Butoh, the theatrical Japanese dance form is gradually becoming part of my life, in a peripheral way. I began photographing butoh performances a few months ago & enjoy the process of engaging with the performer in order to capture their gestures, each at its zenith of expression. This is the challenge I set myself, but, as opposed to the stage, the street environment constantly adds random factors, such as wandering people & inconsistent lighting conditions. Here are a few images Orland (Oracles Teatre) & I collaborated to create recently, captured over a period of about 30 minutes in el barri Gòtic, Barcelona. (Map at end of post).
I have also begun practising butoh myself. The imagination runs wild.......
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On the day we shot these images, there was, in Jardins del Forat de la Vergonya, a community event happening; there being a stage for musical & dance events & another smaller shaded area apportioned for independant dance performers. Orland found neither of these options particularly stimulating. So we wandered briefly until he stopped by a wall of graffiti on the sunny side of the plaça & donned his mask in readiness to immerse himself in an improvised butoh creation.
Click To Enlarge Images
The most common emotion expressed by people was curiosity, but often they seemed to not want to appear to be too interested. A small amount of people paused briefly along their journey, or slowed significantly to take in the unusual spectacle occuring before them. Did they realise the possibility that the performer may have been mimicking their behaviour somewhat?
For my part I needed to gauge the passing elements, including people & ever-changing lighting conditions, in turn moving myself to the optimum position to create & capture a dynamically impactful composition. Throughout the shoot the shadow in the foreground crept ever closer to the building, eventually signifying the end of the improvised performance.
Inevitably, there were children involving themselves, befitting their reputation for being the most curious of humans; they almost became part of the spectacle.
There was also ample opportunity for me to capture the performer simply as part of the environment, like a living ornament adorning the already finely decorated habitat.
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I am a freelance photographer specialising in performance arts.
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