Kenka (Consecration of Flowers)

Produced by Torifune Butohsha and Kayo Mikami
Directed and choreographed by Yukio Mikami
Unity Theatre (4th March 2008)

Reviewed by Ruth Dillon

Torifune Butohsha, an internationally acclaimed dance company based in Japan performed at the Unity Theatre on 4th March as part ot their first British tour since their appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1998.

It had been the vision of choreographer/director Yukio Mikami and creative educationalist Kayo Mikami to bring Buto, a traditonal Japanese dance style to Britain, with the aid of Marc Sebastien Jones Chesire Arts Council, Mereyside Dance Initiative and Government of Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs this vision became a reality.

Kayo Mikami (below right) performed a series of set-pieces across the region as part of Leap 08 and transformed the traditionally male-dominated role with ease and grace.

Kayo MikamiThe pieces were set against a backdrop of lightscapes and sounds that were technically brilliant and added to the landscapes of body and cloth effortlessly.

With each performance the company endeavour to engage directly with their audience and the emotional impact can be quite overwhelming. This, coupled with the fact that they strive to work on a grassroots level and involve anyone who wishes to participate in their workshops, makes for a visual feast with an undeniable emotive impact.

At the Unity the troupe performed Kenka (Consecration of Flowers) and although there is not a linear narrative in the western sense, the story is of a dead mother who wanders through this life and the next in search of her baby. Seven sections unfold, and translate emotions such as pain, loss and grief with barely perceptable movements. As the movements change, so do the feelings. Bringing us through a journey of love, loss, desire and torment to a place of surrender and calm.

I encourage anyone intereted in dance, visual art and storytelling to make a place in their diaries for their next visit. As I and the rest of the audience will be awaitng their return in 2009.

Kenka forms part of the Leap 08 Dance Festival, which runs until 15th March.

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