‘Butoh’ performer brings Japanese theater to Costa Rica

January 13, 2015

Suppose you combined kabuki, pantomime, modern dance, and avant-garde performance art. Suppose you added some haunting, atonal music. Suppose you stripped the performers of most of their clothing and slathered their bodies in paint and liquid clay. The result would be something like “Butoh,” the genre of Japanese performance that has gradually spread around the world since its creation in 1959.

“Descent into the Inferno,” playing this weekend at the Butoh Dance Festival, is based on “The Aeneid” by the Roman poet Virgil. In theory, the performance tells the story of the founding of Rome. But under the direction of Costa Rican artist Fred Herrera, this special Butoh performance promises to disorient and confound the viewer. Using intense physical movement and surreal imagery, “Descenso al Infierno” is a very stylized kind of storytelling.

While viewers may struggle to understand the narrative, “Descenso” is a rare opportunity to see Butoh firsthand, thanks to Herrera.

Herrera seems to have lived several lives: He was raised in Costa Rica, moved to France in 1985, studied mime with legendary performer Marcel Marceau, and traveled extensively in the Eastern Hemisphere before arriving in Japan, where he discovered Butoh. He apprenticed under various Japanese artists, and in 2012 he helped create “Tears of Fukushima” with Butoh choreographer Shigeya Mori. Their collaboration concerned manmade disasters in Japan, including the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.

Back in his home country, Herrera founded the Butoh Dance Festival and has performed his own productions for a Costa Rican audience. “Descenso” is his latest work, following last year’s “Gigante de Sal” (“The Salt Giant.”) To give an impression of what Herrera’s style is like, here is a clip from “Gigante.”

“Descenso al Infierno” will be performed Jan. 16-18 at Espacio Alkimia, “Bodegas Calle Blancos,” Guadalupe. Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. 6,000-8,000 ($12-16). Info: Butoh FestivalDanza Facebook page.

You may be interested

Therapeutic abortion, part II: paper vs. practice
Therapeutic Abortion
168 views
Therapeutic Abortion
168 views

Therapeutic abortion, part II: paper vs. practice

Paula Umaña - February 22, 2018

Part II of a three-part series published in English at The Tico Times by permission of journalism student Paula Umaña;…

Costa Rican scientists discover new bacteria
Science & Tech
265 views
Science & Tech
265 views

Costa Rican scientists discover new bacteria

Katherine Stanley - February 22, 2018

You know you've made it when you've got a strain of Listeria named after you. "Listeria costaricensis" is the official…

Panama firm pleads guilty in FIFA corruption scandal
FIFA
260 views
FIFA
260 views

Panama firm pleads guilty in FIFA corruption scandal

AFP - February 22, 2018

NEW YORK – A Panamanian company that imports and exports soccer uniforms pleaded guilty on Wednesday in New York to…