Kokoro Dance brings otherworldly performance to Wreck Beach

Kokoro Dance Wreck Beach Butoh performance is one of Vancouver's yearly summer events. I had the opportunity to photograph the rehearsal before the actual performance last month.

It was a gray and cold day. I was dressed quite warmly, but the dancers were of course totally naked, which made me feel a bit sorry for them. There were 10 dancers this year, most of them over 40 years old, except three younger dancers. The Dancers this year were Barbara Bourget, Jay Hirabayashi, Ahn Tuan Luu, Philippa Myler, Irene McDermott, Bill Bevis, Juliette Crump, Martin Pratt, Nina Bialecki and Rober Seaton.

They didn't seem to care about the cool temprature. The dancers looked surreal with white body paint in diffused lights against the blue-gray water and mountains.

The first thing they did was to walk into the ocean. I heard a little scream when their bare skin first touched the freezing water.

After the initiation into water, their performance went on without hesitation.

The natural setting of the Wreck Beach is spectacular, regardless of weather. Once they began their performance, it became something other than an ordinary beach. It turned into a vast stage for the magical happening. The dancers' stark-white, naked bodies created an atmosphere far removed from the real world.

The choreography by Barbara Bourget who is the co-founder of the Kokoro Dance was powerful and moving. As the audience watched them dance, it observed and participated. As they moved to one side of the beach, I moved with them and sometimes joined the others in surrounding them.

At this dance, I had the realization that the naked human body is not really erotic when placed in the vastness of nature. it became just a part of it.

I felt no longer cold after chasing them all over the beach for the whole hour in spite of walking in barefoot in cold puddles and on the wet sand. It was a passionate performance.

 

The dancers themselves had paid to be trained specially for the Wreck beach performance. They had a very challenging two-week workshop.

During those weeks, they had two hour-long morning training classes followed by three-hour-long afternoon studio rehearsals to prepare for the harsh  and challenging conditions of the on-site performance.

 

Kokoro Dance is a Vancouver based Butoh Dance company.

Yukiko Onley is a Vanoucver based free-lance photographer.

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