Performances of the Skeleton House (2016)

“Sometimes I dance out my great sadness or happiness. I lost a good friend in the Kobe earthquake, so I went there to the place of destruction and danced my grief. I also dance on the killing fields of war, in Cambodia, Poland, Japan, and continuing on. I want to feel places where great masses of people have died together, to touch the natural human feeling, not in a choreographed butoh style, but directly in my dance. Like everything else, the killing fields are already dancing. So when I enter the dance already taking place, I am asking ‘what is human life, what is darkness, what is death.’ I touch the human crisis there. I look with touch, and touch with looking; something happens inside me when I touch death. After that I don’t think anymore; I pray and I dance.”

 

–  Takenouchi Atsushi, third-generation butoh dancer

In 2006, my grandmother died. I was 12 years old.

 

In 2013, I revisited her grave for the first time in 7 years. Standing in front of her grave, I cried. In the taxi ride after, Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself To Dance kept playing on repeat in my head.

 

This is a 4 hour durational dance piece. Over 4 hours, Daft Punk’s song featuring Pharrell Williams will play on loop as I dance to it. During the course of the performance, I invite audience members to join me in dance.

Originally written as a song “meant to evoke the sense of being unified and connected on the dance floor”, this performance is

 

part-ritual

part-trance

part-celebration

part-performative-gesture

part-prayer

part-ceremony

part-tribute

part-party

Through the act of dancing, the space is energized, a temporary community is formed and transformation happens.

This piece was first performed at Performances of the Skeleton House, a performance event curated by Alicia Radage. A shortened version of this performance was performed a few months later in the Live Art Tent at Latitude Festival 2016, curated by Steakhouse Live.

Documentation by Ian Whitford.