Reviews of Wildflowers Duo
"Oguri solos with Stunning variations....he and Rudolph filled the space with a sense of wonderment."
"Rudolph's humming, chanting, and drumming visibly draws the spectators into a single somatic energy, while Oguri becomes an extraction, an instant embodiment of their pleasure in an altered state. The excitment of sounds complements the kaleidoscopic juxtapositions of the dance...a ceaseless flowing like fragrance or waves."
INSPIRED BUTOH PIECE DEPICTS A BODY OF WORK
LEWIS SEGAL, Los Angeles Times Dance Critic, May 24, 1999
Less than a year before his death in 1986, the father or founder of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata, recalled staring out into the streets as a child and watching grown-ups. "There was one who walked by," he said, "trying to catch up with his own body, then there was a man breathing hard as he trudged along, chased by his own body."
This sense of the body as something that exists apart from (or out of sync with) identity and consciousness lies at the core of "Earthbeat," a remarkable ongoing collaboration between butoh choreographer-dancer Oguri and composer-percussionist Adam Rudolph at the newly opened Electric Lodge performance space in Venice. Reportedly a structured improvisation that will change at every performance, "Earthbeat" renews the familiar butoh obsession with transformation and the weight of time by reshaping it into a Herculean 75-minute duet: a nonlinear rite of passage in which virtuoso drumming and unsparing dance depict our shifting relationship with our bodies.
The first surprise of the Saturday version came with Oguri's new look: for once, not naked, not hairless, not painted or powdered to appear earthen. Dressed prosaically in a long-sleeved white shirt, dark trousers and street shoes, he stood on the right side of the performance space, with Rudolph and his array of drums, cymbals and pipes at the left. Between them: a long, shallow pool of water raised a couple of inches above the floor--narrow upstage but widening as it approached the first rows of seats.
This pool not only divided the stage between music and dance, it represented another realm of experience, one that Rudolph eventually explored with a long didgeridoo-style pipe (playing above and into the water, then stirring and ladling it), and that Oguri tumbled into during perhaps his last superbly controlled portrayal of infirmity. At such moments, when his body seemed unable to obey his will or even support his weight, Oguri made the pain and desperation of choreography we see that mindlessly celebrates beauty and prowess using 18- to 32-year-old dancing athletes and deliberately ignoring the realities of other ages or conditions in life. Butoh was born to expose those realities, those conditions, and Oguri confronted them with maximum impact on Saturday in amazing sequences that showed his face aging, decaying, growing skull-like and then young again as in a time-lapse or special-effect film sequence. Elsewhere, with Rudolph supplying rhythmic assaults from across the room, Oguri reeled and staggered as if buffeted by the drums--or violently bobbed up and down, over and over, crumpling all the way to the floor and straightening fully up, as if boneless, elastic and totally beyond control.
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The body in crisis may be the primal vision that butoh physicalizes, but accompanying it is the feeling of metaphysical detachment that Hijikata invoked when he quoted an 8th century text in which a monk dreamed of watching his own cremation, breaking small twigs "to poke and stab at his own flaming body," then skewering and flipping it "to help it burn." Complex and somehow compassionate in its own dark way, "Earthbeat" represents exactly this kind of haunting immolation dream, with Rudolph doing the stabbing and Oguri set ablaze.
OGURI & RUDOLPH: EARTHBEAT
ANN HASKINS, LA Weekly May 28, 1999
A spur-of-the-moment party or Zorba the Greek cavort has its charm, but truly great fetes and significant improvisational dance are rarely completely spontaneous. Inspired artists like butoh dancer Oguri and percussionist Adam Rudolph devote considerable thought, planning and rehearsal to an improvisational event. The genius is in knowing how to draw on the preparation in order to trigger creative combustion, let go of the structure and surf the spontaneity. Oguri and Rudolph have toured the world and built a following for adventurous, collaborative explorations. In their newest effort, "Earthbeat," these two artists have augmented their interactive process to include an open rehearsal, two weekends of performances, audience participation and four workshops for adults and teens, examining the relationship between dancer and musician. Backed by a grant from the city of L.A., the free series also inaugurates a new theater in Venice. Electric Lodge is described as a "black box" equity-waiver performance space for dance and theater. "Earthbeat" is part of the new venue's ambitious plans to establish itself as a center for performance and classes. Meanwhile, Oguri and Rudolph's broad invitation reflects not only the pair's far-reaching artistic talents, but an understanding of what every great party hostess knows: Beyond planning and improvisation, success depends a lot on the guests who attend.