Butoh Fesitval begins with free performance

Japanese art form to be seen also Wednesday, Saturday

Eugenia Vargas is among the performers who will perform Japanese Butoh in Port Townsend this week.

Eugenia Vargas is among the performers who will perform Japanese Butoh in Port Townsend this week.

PORT TOWNSEND — The third annual Salish Sea International Butoh Festival will begin today with a free street performance at the Haller Fountain in downtown Port Townsend.

The celebration at various venues in Port Townsend of the artform of Japanese Butoh, an avant-garde style of dance-theater that originated in 1960s Tokyo, will continue with paid events on Wednesday and Saturday.

The festival will feature live performances by Japanese artist Kota Yamazaki from Niigata, Japan; Latin-American Butoh pioneer Eugenia Vargas from Mexico City, and Anastazia Louise Aranaga from the San Francisco Bay Area.


• Today at 6 p.m. — Free outdoor Butoh street performance with live music, directed by Anastazia Louise of the Bad Unkl Sista performance ensemble, at the Haller Fountain at 842 Washington St.

• Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. — Butoh Cabaret featuring 12 stage performances combining Butoh aesthetics with cabaret/burlesque at the Zee Tai Building, 918 Water St. Admission is $10.

• Saturday at 7:30 p.m. — The main event of the festival, the Butoh Performance Gala at 7:30 p.m. featuring performances by all three guest artists at Eaglemount Wine & Cider, 1893 S. Jacob Miller Road. Admission is $20 for general admission and $15 for students.

Guest artists

Vargas is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, curator and artistic researcher from Mexico City. She is the founder and director of Laboratorio Escénico Danza Teatro Ritual, a performance troupe and artistic venue that has served not only as an incubator for dance and interdisciplinary projects but also as an artistic residence and formative training space for Butoh in Mexico.

Vargas is co-founder and director of Cuerpos en Revuelta: Festival Internacional de Danza Butoh and is founder of the Butoh México Archive with which she is currently organizing the ongoing Seminar “Thinking from the body with and against butoh.”

In 2022, Vargas organized “Encrucijada: mujeres en el butoh,” an initiative that brought together artists from Japan, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

She has performed in Japan, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Canada and the U.S.

Yamazki, born and raised in Niigata, Japan, was introduced to Butoh under the teaching of Akira Kasai at Tenshi-kan at the age of 18 after training as a music conductor.

He graduated from Bunka Fashion College with a bachelor’s in fashion design in Tokyo. Yamazaki created contemporary dance works in his 30s with Tokyo-based dance company rosy co, from 1995-2001. Since 2003, Yamazaki has been based in both New York and Tokyo, presenting dance works nationally and internationally.

From 2016-19, Yamazaki received artistic commissions from the Japan Contemporary Dance Network, New York Live Arts and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York to create a dance trilogy called the “Darkness Odyssey” that examined Butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata’s dance of darkness and its relation to Gilles Deluze’s philosophies.

He is a current teaching faculty member at Bennington College in Vermont. Yamazaki also has served as the director of the Whenever Wherever Festival, a Tokyo-based cross-disciplinary experimental dance festival since 2009.

Yamazaki has received numerous awards for his work including a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Dance and Performance Award (also known as the Bessie Award), Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant Award (2013), and a 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts award.

Anastazia is the founder and artistic director of Bad Unkl Sista, a performance art ensemble that combines choreography, original and improvised music, couture costuming and physical theater elements to produce site-specific durational performances.

Since 2002, Anastazia has produced hundreds of performances for local, regional and international promoters and festivals. Notable works include “First Breath – Last Breath,” an opera-scale production that spawned two audio recordings and a documentary short film titled “The Space Between.”

Anastazia also choreographed and performed in “Little Match Girl Passion”, an adaptation of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work performed in both San Francisco (U.S.) and Odense (Denmark). Anastazia Louise was introduced to Butoh by Diego Piñón (Butoh Ritual Mexicano) in 2002, and his teachings remain an ongoing inspiration for her performance work. Other influences include Hiroko and Koichi Tamano, Sankai Juku, and Vangeline. Anastazia has also had the privilege of collaborating with internationally recognized artists including Flam Chen, Beats Antique, SORNE, ill.GATES, Human Nature Dance Company, Totter Todd, Soriah, Stellamara, Mizu Desierto, Nathan Montgomery (Syzygy Butoh), Richochet, The L.A. Stilt Circus, and VerbaBola.

Salish Sea Butoh produces an annual festival that features both local performers and guest artists from around the world.

For more information, see www.salishseabutoh.com.

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