Konpaku Workshop

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KONPAKU 魂魄– the River of Elsewhere

A workshop,

followed by a Butoh dance performed by Teresa Vanderkinchoreographed by Meshi Chavez with sculpture created by Yukiyo Kawano

Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 | 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

George R. White Library & Learning Center, 2800 NE Liberty Street, Portland, OR




◊  5:30 pm Butoh Workshop; registration is required as space is limited. Workshop includes demonstration and audience participation 
◊  6:30 pm Lantern Lighting (registration not required) 
◊  7:30 pm Butoh Performance (registration not required)


Konpaku describes “the riverbanks where the dead and the living come and go, very much at peace with themselves.”  Natsu Nakajima, one of the first female founders of Butoh, emphasizes that the Japanese use Buddhist terms such as higan – the far side of the riverbank for the world of the dead, and shigan – the near side of the riverbank for the world of the living.  “Konpaku is where the dead come and go several times a year crossing the river to their ancestral homes.  It is not a place, but “nowhere out there”.

This workshop is a collaboration between visual artist, Yukiyo Kawano and Butoh dancer, Teresa Vanderkin.  Together, we investigate what exists beyond the visible.

◊  5:30 pmWe will open this one-hour work-shop by sharing a brief description and history of Butoh, followed by a video presentation of a Butoh dance, Suspended Moment: Desperate Bid for Life, performed by choreographer, Meshi Chavez in 2014.

In spring, 2014, Chavez encountered Kawano’s life-sized renditions of the nuclear bomb for the first time. He immediately imagined a Butoh body moving with the object made of kimonos stitched together with strands of the artist’s hair. Kawano, seeing Chavez’s movement in the present, envisioned the unseen history of the past. The dance was thus created, in which Kawano’s work synchronized with the yami (shadowy darkness), in Chavez’s Butoh body. As the dance/story developed and a soft sculpture of the A-bomb rose, participants were surrounded by the history, the present moment, and the possible future. At this energized site, the moment is suspended.

◊  6:00 pm: The last 30 minutes of the workshop will include a session where participants will be guided through the process of creating the Butoh body that “becomes nothing”, by shedding off “what we think a body should be”.

◊  6:30 pm: The workshop will be followed by lantern lighting. We have brought lanterns used in the Hiroshima memorial event recently held in Seattle, Washington and which were floated/released onto the lake.  They will be lit again tonight as we invoke an experience of Konpaku.

◊  7:30 pm: In the dusk, there will be a Butoh performance by Teresa Vanderkin, choreographed by Meshi Chavez  | Sculpture – Yukiyo Kawano

The slow-moving Butoh body of Teresa Vanderkin will find the moment to peel away the illusion of ‘the Human’ and resonate with Konpaku, the infinite world, with all of them as Life. As the dance develops a life-size soft sculpture of the atomic bomb, Little Boy, rises and suspends in the mid-air.  Participants will have an opportunity to carry lanterns in a procession through the field of Konpaku.  What we will experience is a singular view of Japanese history, becoming aware of the performer and the presence of each other in the present as we reflect on the past. So, let our imagination go as far as the night takes us!


Yukiyo Kawano, yuki@yukiyokawano.com