The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Archive Index Home
Japan Topics
Yukio Mishima’s “Kinjiki” novels that inspired the origins of butoh are brought to contemporary dance
Photo: Yuu Kamimaki
From June 8 to 11, the first performances of a contemporary dance work titled Kinjiki (arranged, directed and choreographed by Kim Itoh) were held as a production of the Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo.
The Setagaya Public Theatre is a theater that has continued to play a leading role in Japan’s dance scene. By holding programs like the “SepT Dokubu (Solo Dance) Series” of original works by talented dance and physical expression artists, the “Kirin 21st Century Dance” program supported by private sector corporations and the “Toyota Choreography Awards” that have become a proving ground for emerging choreographers, the Setagaya Public Theatre has become a vital center for contemporary dance.
As a production for the “21st Century Dance” program, two Bagnolet. Award (the Rencontres Chorégraphiques de Bagnolet) winners, Kim Itoh and Tsuyoshi Shirai, took on the challenge of creating a dance work based on Yukio Mishima’s “Kinjiki” novels, which deal with the theme of homosexuality. Considering the fact that it was a dance work also based on the “Kinjiki” novels in 1959 by Tatsumi Hijikata that is said to have launched the butoh movement, considerable attention came to focus on this new work even before its premiere.
In contrast to Hijikata’s scandalous Kinjiki, which included a scene of a handsome young man standing on an almost completely dark stage and wringing the neck of a chicken held between his thighs to stress the anguish of the suppressed body and spirit, the 21st century Kinjiki was light and stylish throughout. In the opening duet, Itoh and Shirai appear on stage in the nude and give free rein to their bodies and their sexuality in an affirmative disco dance that succeeds beautifully in dissolving the taboo of “Kinjiki.” Making effective use of a backdrop that reflects the dancer’s bodies in black, this collaboration between Itoh as an inheritor of the butoh tradition and Shirai as a proponent of improvisation produced a highly finished work of contemporary dance that can inspire new appreciation of the butoh dance form.

+ Schedule:
  June 8-11: Setagaya Public Theatre (Tokyo)
  June 24, 25:  Kyoto Performing Arts Center "Shunjyuza" (Kyoto)
  July 3: Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center (Kitakyushu)
+ Setagaya Public Theatre