CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 10, 1999
Hancher Sankai Juku's first American commissioner,
with U.S. premiere of 'Hibiki'
(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Butoh is pronounced boo-toh.)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The shaved heads, white-powdered
bodies and intensely ritualized movements of Japan's Sankai Juku have become
indelible images of contemporary dance during the last decades of the 20th
century, but despite the Butoh company's world-wide popular and critical acclaim,
its work has never been created through an American commission. The University
of Iowa Hancher Auditorium has now corrected that oversight for its 1999-2000
Millennium Festival, and the results will be presented on the Hancher stage
with the Sankai Juku American premiere of artistic director Ushio Amagatsu's
"Hibiki" at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1 and 2.
"Hibiki" had its world premiere at the site of its
co-commissioner, Theatre de la Ville in Paris, in December 1998. Hancher Assistant
Director Judy Hurtig traveled to France for the premiere to represent the
UI, the state of Iowa and Hancher's supporters, and she wrote of the experience,
"As the dancers were taking their bows -- to tumultuous applause -- I was
filled with pride that we, all of us, have played an important role in bringing
this work to the stage.
"It is a work of such large ambition, in which the
movement, music and lighting are tightly integrated. Ushio Amagatsu sets his
vision on the biggest issues of creation, life, reconciliation, death and
the possibility of rebirth. Time seems to slip away; at some point you become
aware that you've lost all sense of the passage of time, and you've slowly
entered this work that is filled with powerful images."
Sankai Juku and Amagatsu are part of the second generation
of Butoh dancers in Japan. Butoh is a new Japanese art form that evolved during
the 1960s as an expression of humanitarian awareness by that country's post-war
generation, particularly in response to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Butoh dancers rejected the traditional forms of Eastern and Western dance
in search of a powerful, athletic and immediate expression appropriate to
a new Japan and the new world of potential apocalypse.
Before he worked in the Butoh style, Amagatsu trained
in classical and modern dance. In 1976, he started a series of workshops that
led to the idea of Sankai Juku. He chose three dancers from the workshop to
help create the Sankai Juku, which means "studio of mountain and sea," and
their enigmatic performances and outdoor happenings created an international
sensation. Unearthly images of Sankai Juku appeared in virtually every arts
and news magazine around the world.
Critics have always struggled to describe Sankai Juku
performances, whose style and content fall outside of conventional dance terminology.
Deborah Jowitt of the Village Voice called Sankai Juku "a luminous rite --
slow, enigmatic, beautiful!" "Hypnotically beguiling" was David Patrick Stearn's
choice of words in USA Today. UI alumna Judith Green, writing in the San Jose
Mercury News, described Sankai Juku as "a world of unearthly beauty," and
Jay Cocks of Time magazine wrote, "The singular glory of Sankai Juku is that
it achieves almost pure metaphor."
Gary A. and Ladonna K. Wicklund and the National Endowment
for the Arts are the major commissioning sponsors of "Hibiki," through the
University of Iowa Foundation.
The Hancher Millennium Festival has emerged as the
most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration in the
United States. The season-spanning festival features 20 major commissions
in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions
receiving their world or American premieres in Hancher. (The number of commissions
recently increased, with the finalizing of the Kronos Quartet programs.)
In addition to the "Hibiki," new works have been created
-- or are being created -- by theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers
Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Bill T.
Jones, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael
Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, and UI alumnus David Lang.
Performances of the commissioned works will be presented
by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance,
the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, the Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company,
the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn
Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.
Tickets for Sankai Juku are $35, $30 and $25. UI students
and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets
available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger
are half price.
Tickets may be purchased at a substantial discount
as part of Hancher's volume-purchase plan. A simultaneous purchase of three
to five events qualifies for a 15-percent discount, and a simultaneous purchase
of six or more events qualifies for a 20-percent discount.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays,
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or
outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois
is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary
services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped
with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
The entire 1999-2000 Hancher season -- including the season-spanning
Millennium Festival -- is detailed in a free brochure, "At This Moment," which
is available from the Hancher administrative offices (319-335-1130) or the
Hancher box office.
Learn more about Sankai Juku and "Hibiki" on the World
Wide Web at <http://www.extremetaste.com/ipa_sankai_juku.html>.
Downloadable images of Sankai Juku are available at <http://www.jpan.org/dance/sankaijuku/sankaijuku-s/pictures.html>.
For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates,
visit the ArtsIowa website, <www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr