Art

Finalist in The Journal Culture Awards

GemArts is a finalist in not one, but two categories of The Journal Culture Awards 2017. This year’s awards received a whopping 1400 nominations, and GemArts Masala Festival has made the final cut for the Arts Council Award, supported by Arts Council England: North, while the organisation is also shortlisted for their work in Trimfest 2016 for Best Event Durham.

    GemArts Masala Festival  600px GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Bollywood Dance procession photo Anna Miller

Both Masala Festival and Trimfest launched their inaugural festivals in 2016, so making the final three in the respective categories of these awards is a fantastic affirmation of the quality and success for everyone who contributed. A common theme for both was the celebration and profiling of diverse arts, something which GemArts and our parent charity have vast experience championing across the North East, and nationally. Our parent charity Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group also celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017, and two potential awards would be a great way to mark this milestone.

Masala Festival, is a weeklong celebration of the very finest mix and blend of South Asian arts. It compliments and builds upon GemArts exemplar year round work, providing an exciting new arts festival for audiences in the north east, bringing South Asian arts to their doorstep. The long term vision of GemArts Director, Vikas Kumar, we were all blown away by the public reaction to the first Masala Festival in July 2016.  “We’re thrilled to be nominated by the Journal Culture Awards as this year we also celebrate the 25th anniversary of our charity, a major milestone.  GemArts has continuously championed the vibrant diverse arts scene, artists and communities within the North East, while bringing the very best national and international artists to the region. The success of Masala Festival, and making the final 3 in the Arts Council Award, is fantastic acknowledgment of the quality and breadth of South Asian arts and culture GemArts has produced and presented over the years, and we are hugely thankful to all our artists, partners, audiences, participants and volunteers for their exceptional support!”

Little Elephant GemArts Masala Festival launch photo Anna Miller GemArts Masala Festival Monks of Majuli and students photo Anna Miller

The 2016 Masala Festival programme included films screenings which explored South Asian LGBT lives, world music jazz fusion bands, big brass band and Indian music collaborations, award winning poets, photography exhibitions exploring Turban culture, rare and sacred Sattriya dance performances, workshops and masterclasses, the very popular GemArts Mini Mela family fun day and lots more, presenting traditional and contemporary South Asian identities. Working with a number of partners GemArts brought the Masala Festival programme to venues and spaces in Newcastle, Gateshead and out to the coast, and the plans for 2017 look even bigger and better.

Trimdon Parish Council wanted to present multicultural events and activities for the local community during October half-term, to bring people together to experience and learn about art and culture across the world, while celebrating Trimdon and the local area too.  GemArts was invited to help programme Trimfest 2016, sharing expertise working with communities and presenting the best diverse arts to North East audiences.

Trimfest Booklet Front Cover - with text IMG_6330

Catering for all ages, Trimfest featured an eclectic mix of music from Brass Bands to The Baghdaddies and Hannabiell&Midnight Blue, a diverse art family fun day, Indian storytelling, Bavarian beer night, the brilliant Home Fires production community and school workshops and lots more. Creating a brand new festival to celebrate art, music and culture from across the world, in a rural area of East Durham, was an ambitious and exciting undertaking for the Trimdon Parish Council. Everyone involved is thrilled that the efforts and high quality of the programme, both events and workshops, delivered over the 10 day festival, have been recognised in this prestigious nomination for Best Event Durham.

“Trimdon Parish Council is very pleased to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award, especially as this was the first time the Parish Council has been involved in such an ambitious festival. It is a great achievement to be finalists for Best Event Durham, and is wonderful recognition of the hard work undertaken by all of the partners, volunteers, residents and artists who made Trimfest 2016 such a memorable event, not to mention a great celebration of our collaboration with GemArts. This nomination will give everyone involved tremendous encouragement as we start our preparations to host Trimfest 2017 later this year”. Anne Delandre, Trimdon Parish Council Clerk.

GemArts is finalising plans for Masala Festival 2017, and in discussions with Trimdon Parish Council to continue work on Trimfest 2017. To keep up to date and find out more visit www.gemarts.org , if you can help support this years festival please consider making a donation here.

Merry Christmas and a look back at a great 2016

Merry Christmas

One of the things I enjoy most in December is looking back over the previous 12 months, being reminded of the wonderful artists, communities, volunteers and organisations GemArts has worked with, and the generous donors and funders who supported our work in so many ways this year.

In 2016 we continued to showcase the best and brightest talent across the arts, while championing creativity and diversity, and always ensuring our artists received the support and profile they deserved. GemArts’ audiences were given access to unique cultural experiences, with people of all ages and backgrounds given opportunities to enjoy and make exceptional music, dance and art, while developing new skills and building confidence along the way. In a year that made many people feel disconnected and alone, we brought people together, and showed what a fantastic and diverse community of people live in the North East.

This year we strengthened relationships and developed new partnerships, allowing GemArts’ performance programme and participatory projects to have further impact across the region and beyond, and our hate crime awareness raising work won us a national award. We’ve picked just a few of our highlights from 2016, and I’m sure you will have your own favourites.
 
On behalf of the GemArts team and GVEMSG, I would like to  thank you for your continued support, and wish you a very merry Christmas, and all the best for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Best wishes and see you in 2017.
 
Vikas Kumar

Director, GemArts

GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Magic Fish banners crowd photo Anna Miller Thank you Feel Good Group glass work  Image by Anna Miller.jpg

Masala Festival – Our brand new week-long festival launched in July, with a mix and blend of the very finest South Asian arts and culture. We couldn’t have done it without the fantastic artists, audiences, participants, volunteers, donors, funders and partners who helped ensure Masala Festival was a huge success. The festival returns on the 17th July 2017, more information coming soon!

Catalyst Evolve – A successful application to Arts Council England’s Catalyst Evolve fund saw us continue to lead a consortium with two Gateshead Arts charities (Equal Arts and The Lawnmowers). This also means we can match your generous donations £1 for £1! Help GemArts deliver life enhancing projects for disadvantaged communities by donating what you can here.

Health and Wellbeing: Feel Good Group – Our Women’s Group brings together women from diverse communities, and this year they have worked with glass artist Effie Burns. They have been busy developing new creative skills to create unique, high quality glass artworks, whilst sharing experiences and developing support networks to tackle isolation and improve health and wellbeing. The women raised a whopping £130 for their project at their first craft fair in December!  

East by North East – Throughout the year our Youth Music funded project offered music making opportunities to more than 130 young people each week. Young participants have really wowed us with their talent and dedication to the project. With new artists also joining the cohort, the last 12 months have truly strengthened the rich offer for music leaders and those they work with in Newcastle. 

Arun Ghosh workshops and performance – In April pupils from Roman Road Primary school were given the chance of a lifetime when they spent three days with international Jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh, creating three new pieces which they performed at the opening of Sage Gateshead’s International Jazz Festival 2016. Mini Melas – Between February and October we packed in not one, not two but THREE Mini Melas, bringing free family arts activity to Gateshead, Newcastle and Durham. In total over 900 children and their families visited us at a Mini Mela in 2016, taking part in arts activity from all around the world.

WILD WOOL at The Late Shows – We were delighted to present a fantastic new co-commission with Apple Yang’s Appetite Dance Productions at the 10th Anniversary of The Late Shows in May. You can catch Apple Yang: WILD WOOL in all its glory at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in 2017.

Trimfest – Not content introducing one new festival last year, GemArts also helped bring a brand new festival offering to East Durham in October. Working with Trimdon Parish Council we brought exciting, culturally diverse performances and workshops to audiences in Trimdon. 

Khyal: Music and Imagination – We took our work with Durham University to a new level with this fantastic project, building on academic research into the ways in how we experience and imagine classical Indian performance, using insights to generate new kinds of engagement and creativity. A beautiful exhibition, on display in November, showcased the stunning new work created by artists and local school pupils, as well as an innovative new iPad app.

 

Sign up to GemArts’ monthly e-newsletter here to be the first to find out about our fantastic new Spring Summer 2017 season.

My week with GemArts Masala Festival

GemArts recently hosted a student placement, Liam Scarth, who helped during the planning, delivery and evaluation of GemArts Masala Festival in July 2016. Liam, a 2nd year BA Acting Community Theatre student at East 15 Drama School in Southend, identified GemArts as an organisation he would like to work with as part of a placement module within his degree course. Listing his main passions as teaching, working with younger people and bringing communities together, Liam was the perfect fit for a placement with GemArts, and he contributed a great deal to the team during an exciting and busy 3 weeks with us. Before completing his placement Liam wrote this great review of GemArts Masala Festival which we’re delighted to share with you.

Masala Logo (Pink) Resized 600 px

For one week Gateshead and Newcastle became a melting pot of cultural activity, as GemArts served up a delectable dish which they had been cooking up for some time. The festival recipe started with a good dollop of inspiring short film, next they poured in a hearty helping of musical artistry, a dash of perfectly palatable poetry, a sprinkle of elating exhibitions, a good handful of performance art, seasoned with wonderful workshops and topped off with a sensational finale. The temperature was set to that of an Indian summer, and then GemArts served up the mouth-watering Masala Festival to a culture-hungry public.

Masala Festival launched on the 11th July with ALIVE! a ground-breaking evening of short films curated by independent producer Bobby Tiwana. ALIVE! celebrated being South Asian and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The beautifully selected, and composed films touched on universal themes such as that awkward first kiss, or the loss of childhood innocence, along with more individual experiences such as dealing with certain stigmas, and stories of hope. It had such a profound effect on people it raised heated debates in the Q and A. What is my identity? How do we find a place of belonging? Rousing speeches from the panel provided new ideas and thoughts for the audience to take home.

GemArts Masala Festival ALIVE post show ID BT photo Anna Miller Little Elephant GemArts Masala Festival launch photo Anna Miller

The festival barrelled on with two mind blowing musical performances; Manjula, a Leeds-based band mixing sounds from across the globe, and Shri Sriram with new project Just a Vibration, where Indian Ragas met British Brass Band. On subsequent nights these two groups had the power to transport you to new continents. One moment I was in a Newcastle or Gateshead venue, the next I was bathing in the heat of the sun, in a South Indian garden. Audiences sat humbled, soaking in the rich melodies.

Masala Festival also introduced us to the varied work of three prolific poets. Identity, politics and mythology; were our themes for the evening. Moniza Alvi, Amali Rodrigo and Arundhathi Subramaniam, although under the same publisher; BloodAxe Books, all had their own take on the themes. The audience came together to listen to poets describing vast journeys, spiritual awakenings, and cultural norms. With every word I understood a little more of countries over the water, and with every hour during the festival I grew fonder of our varied world.

There were also plenty of chances to get your hands into the mixing bowl and take part in Masala Festival yourself. Poet Arundhathi gave an enlightening workshop at Culture Lab before her reading. Artist Emma Sheridan worked with primary schools in the local area, introducing them to beautiful Indian visual arts. Emma inspired children in one school to create bright, colourful silk paintings based on the tale of The Magic Fish. These then filled the sky, on flags and banners, for the Mini Mela finale. Yoga sessions were available to those who wanted to embody the true spirit of South Asia, and DOGA (Yoga for you and wor pooch!) added a quirky extra. For the more energetic few, Bollywood Dance offered people the opportunity to get their booty on the dance floor, or Trinity Square floor!

GemArts Masala Festival silk painting in school photo Anna Miller GemArts Masala Festival Monks of Majuli and students photo Anna Miller

For a real taste of South Asia, Ury Restaurant’s cooking demonstrations shared Keralan cuisine secrets. For those who prefer to skip the cooking but enjoy the eating, Ury Restaurant also provided delicious food at the Mini Mela finale on the Sunday. No one missed out at this festival, all were catered for!

GemArts had yet more treats up their sleeve, as Turbanism a photography exhibition opened in Gateshead Central Library. Photographer Rehmat Rayatt travelled to Rajasthan to document the world of the Turban, and the unfortunate demise of the turban culture. The exhibition didn’t create a feeling of demise, as vibrant colours sprang from the frames, filling the gallery with majestic shades of orange, red, purple and yellow. Alongside the photographs, a selection of turbans sat patiently on display. Upstairs continued on a more personal storyline with images documenting her grandfathers’ love for photography and their family’s migration.

On Saturday Sage Gateshead became the host to India’s sacred arts as The Monks of Majuli, gave audience members a once in a life time opportunity. This was the Monks first visit to Britain, and Gateshead was their final stop on a month long tour. In the pre-show discussion, we were enlightened to Georgie Pope’s PhD work and the pilgrimage of the Monks to see their sacred Assamese tapestry in the British Museum. Drumming, dancing, singing, acting, costume were all elements of the performance offering. All audience members were truly awe stricken by the event. After giving a standing ovation, and wiping some joyful tears from their eyes, audience members left in bright chatter and all in agreement they had witnessed something truly special.

GemArts managed to top off this jam packed week very successfully. The Mini Mela brought the new Live Garden to life on the final Sunday of the festival. With the Newcastle Quayside Market bustling not far away it felt like the perfect day for Sunday celebrations with people from all backgrounds gathered in the sunshine. GemArts filled the garden with free arts activity for all ages, punters could choose from: face painting, henna art, Rangoli art, kite making, elephant model making, sculpture painting or to browse the wares of local jewellery makers. Indoor workshops offered a chance to find your rhythm with Dhol drumming, Bollywood Dance and mini movers classes. At 11am and 2:30pm the square exploded into bright colours and sound as the Dhol drum dropped a beat for local dancers to throw some Bollywood shapes. They were followed by a procession of banners, flags and sculptures held by the eager, paint covered hands of local bairns, all on their way to watch the performance of The Magic Fish. ATMA Dance Company adapted the story of Vishnu, where he comes to save the Earth from the demon No-Knowledge. With a powerful, invigorating and uplifting message, young and old alike went away with a spring in their step.

GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Bollywood Dance procession photo Anna Miller GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Magic Fish banners crowd photo Anna Miller

So there you have it, a mix and blend of the finest South Asian arts and culture squeezed into this review. GemArts Masala Festival served up a vision of South Asian culture today, and with plans for an even bigger and tastier celebration next year, to mark the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence, I think we all better settle down, tuck in our napkins and get ready to chow down on some more wholesome worldly experiences.

Written by Liam Scarth, student Placement with GemArts between 4th July and 22nd July 2016

Images: GemArts Masala Festival credit Anna Miller

Vaisakhi Festival Celebrations

This year Vaisakhi falls on Wednesday 13th April, and later that month GemArts and Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group host their annual celebrations at Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd April, marking this special date in the Sikh calendar. (Call 0191 440 4124 or email info@gemarts.org to book your tickets)

Vaisakhi is a long established harvest festival in Punjab.  It falls on either the 13th or 14th April every year. Vaisakhi is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating Khalsa, and it marks the Sikh New Year.  It is also observed with different significance attached to it in different parts of India.

Vaisakhi in Sikhism

Vaisakhi is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for the Sikh community.  It is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating KHALSA, the establishment of the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikh founded the Khalsa at the Vaisakhi gathering is 1699 at Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh had arranged for followers from all over India to meet him at the Vaisahki fair in Anandpur.  He asked for five people to come forward who were willing to die for their religion. After the prayers he sprinkled AMRIT – water with sugar (strength must always be balanced by sweetness of temperament) and stirred with a steel sword (symbolising the need for strength). He declared them to be the first members of a new community of equals, to be called Khalsa, meaning pure. They will dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice for people of all faiths.  These five people were called the PANJ PYARE, and were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, the five ‘k’s and a turban.

  1.  Kesh (long uncut hair) – The long uncut hair symbolises chivalry, saintness and courage.
  2.  Khanga (comb)- It is needed to keep the long hair set and tidy, symbolises cleanliness.
  3.  Kirpan (sword)-A sword is a symbol for royalty and knighthood
  4.  Kara (iron bracelet)-Symbol of everlasting love for God. It is round like a ring and therefore no beginning or end.
  5.  Kachera (underwear)-Specially tailored shorts and symbolises purity and restraint.

TURBAN: The turban has great significance in Sikhism. Apart from looking smart and handsome, it is considered the CROWN of a Sikh. It is true to say that without a turban there is no Kaur or Singh just as without a crown there is no king or queen.

To end social divisions, the Panj Pyara’s surnames were removed by the Guru, mainly because surnames were associated with ones cast – the Guru gave them (and all Sikh men) the name SINGH, meaning the “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.  At the same time, the Guru gave all Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning “princess” to emphasise dignity and complete equality. The Guru then knelt below the five and asked them to initiate him. Hence, the Khalsa became a community in which master and disciple were equal.

Vaisakhi brings a unique message of tolerance, harmony and equality amongst Sikh communities. In a modern day society, it is clear to observe the equality amongst all citizens, regardless of their class, colour and gender through Sikhism. By working together communities can strengthen themselves with a wide understanding of the rich diversity they are surrounded by.

As far as farmers are concerned, Vaisakhi is not a religious occasion for them, it is the time to harvest the crops especially wheat. On Vaisakhi farmers thank God for the beautiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes, sing, dance and enjoy the best of festival food.

For more information on our Vaisahki Celebrations event taking place on Saturday 23rd April visit here. We’ll see you on the dance floor!

Vaisakhi guest high commissioner credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaiasakhi performance credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi dancer pose credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi guests credit Mohammed Rayaz

Image credit: Mohammed Rayaz

RANDOM ACTS NORTH

Our good friends at Tyneside Cinema have a fantastic opportunity for 16-24 years olds interested in film making. Applications are open until 4th April. Ahead of the deadline Random Acts will be running an information session taking place at Northern Stage on Tuesday 8th March 5pm-7pm. More information available at www.randomactsnorth.org or by contacting randomacts@tynesidecinema.co.uk

TC_RandomActs_Eflyer (003)

Artist Commission and Public Engagement Opportunity “Khyal: Music and Imagination”

GemArts is continuing its work with Durham University in 2016 with a fantastic opportunity for visual artists.

“Khyal: Music and Imagination” is a project which brings together an international team of ethnomusicologists, singers of Indian classical music and visual artists to develop original artwork and deliver public engagement activities.

We are seeking to appoint a visual artist to join the project team, who will work in collaboration with musicians and academics to develop an original artwork, and deliver a school workshop in the North East of England.

The successful candidate will be an enthusiastic and talented artist at the early stage of his/her career, with a degree in visual arts or equivalent, excellent teamwork skills, and an interest in exploring new and collaborative ways of working. While he/she will not be expected to have any technical knowledge of music or previous experience of Indian music, he/she will be willing to develop an original artwork after a period of dialogue and consultation with other team members.

For more information visit www.gemarts.org or www.dur.ac.uk

My week with GemArts

Hello, my name is Hina, I am a student at Joseph Swan Academy. In July 2015 I completed a 1 week placement with GemArts as part of my work experience. While working with GemArts Director, Vikas, and the team, I got to see what goes on behind the scenes at their events and during their other project work.

During my week with GemArts they had an event at the Newcastle Beacon, to celebrate the East by North East project GemArts led which helped young people from Newcastle learn about and create their own music. I helped GemArts Administrator, Jade, make sure there was enough CD/DVDs for the guests, and prepared the room before everyone arrived, making sure that the venue had enough space for the speeches and performances to take place, as well as helping set up the catering and check the sound. We handed out leaflets which included a running order of what would happen during the event. During the event there was a video about the progress young people have made producing their own new music. GemArts also presented some young people with Arts Award certificates which show how much commitment and hard work they had put into the project. Some of the groups also performed their music, which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed. At the end we helped tidy up the venue and had a chat with artists and guests that had attended to say thank you for coming and supporting the event. This opportunity was really interesting because I got to see what goes on behind the scenes of planning events and seeing the types of projects GemArts deliver.

Another interesting part of my work experience week was when I visited GemArts visual arts projects. My first visit was to the project working with a group of young mothers from different backgrounds living in Byker. I went to see this group, who meet up weekly in the Newcastle Byker centre with GemArts’ Project Manager, Alex. The women meet weekly, and work with GemArts artist Emma, learning how to make beautiful artworks using different materials. After seeing this group of women work together it made me think about how art can bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together, where strangers can start to get along like they are old friends. To me it shows how powerful and universal art is, something which I hadn’t previously thought about.

During the rest of my time working for GemArts I learnt how different people had different roles to help maintain the work of the organisation, and how the office runs. GemArts Communications and Development Officer, Sinead, explained how the organisation looks for opportunities and works to increase their audiences and the coverage of their events and projects. Part of this work included updating the school and organisation contacts lists on a database so the team will be able to contact these people about future projects and events.

Overall I really enjoyed my time working for GemArts for my work experience, and I learnt a lot about how they and other groups operate.

Here is a photo of me on a visit to one of GemArts’ secondary school projects holding an Anti Hate Crime posters design created by year 8 pupils.

Post by Hina Khalid

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

Photo by Nigo Chong The Chinese fox having her wedding

BUTOH

Myth of Butoh

Hi it’s Laichee again,

As well as being an MA student I am also a Butoh dancer, when GemArts discovered this they asked if I would write a piece for the blog explaining a bit about this dance form, so here it is.

I first started learning Butoh in 2009 with Malaysia’s first Butoh company Nyoba Kan. At this time I also learned from an important mentor, Yukio Waguri, a Butoh master from Japan. Yukio Waguri was the main disciple of Butoh founder, Hijikata Tatsumi (1928-1986).

Butoh was founded by Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno after World War II, when Japan was ruined and people started questioning their Japanese identity, resulting in Western culture becoming overly influential. Hijikata wanted to find a “true” dance, one that demonstrates the real identity of the dancers. Hijikata did many experiments before he named this new dance form “Ankoku Butoh” (dance of darkness). Unlike Western Ballet dance, in which the dancers try to dance upward and reach to the sky, Butoh dancers try to move downward to the earth, where they try to find their identity in the inner world.

The spirits suffer in Hell Photo by Royer Wan

The spirits suffer in Hell Photo by Royer Wan

Indeed it is not easy to give a definition of what Butoh is, I always forget exactly how I have explained Butoh right after I have told people about it. I would love to share with you the meaning of Butoh, as written by my dance mentor Mr. Waguri, so please read on and enjoy his thoughts on this art form.

What is Butoh?

By Yukio Waguri

[Translated from original text written in Japanese]

Butoh Master and Choreogrpaher Yukio Waguri by Nigo Chong

The Butoh master and choreographer Yukio Waguri Photo by Nigo Chong

The word of the “Butoh” has come from China. It also appeared in Japanese ancient documents 1,000 years ago. Before that the “Butoh” itself meant foreign culture or entertainment. The “Butoh-kai” held during Meiji period also used in the meaning to express the western culture. Currently, an enormous information network was set up all over the world, and the speed of the international interchange has really changed. Nowadays all of us facing with the overflow of the information, but that is necessity to stop once and consider the meaning of the “Butoh” again.

The character [Bu] of the “Butoh” means to turn/spin, over the mind concentration, it caused a de-soul situation then to let the spirit of god or ancestors or ghost to go into the empty container or human body and make them dance. And for the character “toh”, means step cautiously, jump, while the body absorbed the energy from the earth, the existence of the power to confine the bad soul of the underground. Also for the liberation from the daily hard working, the joyfulness of the good harvest, then become a celebration of religious service in the rhythm of nature, a ritual ceremony to call the spirits of the ancestral to return happily, and after that developed into a national level religious event. Naturally these “Butoh” exist everywhere in the world. It is not the unique thing that only occurred in Japan.

Then, what is the meaning of “Butoh” in nowadays? Due to the pioneer appearance of Hijikata Tatsumi/Ono Kazuo in year 1950-60, those arts expression was called avant-garde dance (ankoku butoh). After some time the “Butoh” was recognized and spreads out to the world, from then the name “ankoku” was disappeared and they started to call it “Butoh”. But I think that “ankoku” is the most important part for me. To set one foot step into the totally new area, actually it is an experiment mind for me. That is the reason why “Butoh” is defined as art. Why does the human desire for the light? I think none of them would like to live along in the darkness, neither in the society nor inside the human himself. We can only imagine the Land of Happiness, but the Hell is always in front of us. We must continuously face the darkness and death. Even if we try to ignore their appearance, with only express the existing beautifulness and dreamlike story, it will be turnout to be a poor art performance.

The “Butoh” shows that the existence of human being itself is an art. Currently we believe the harmony between the power and simplistic beauty from Europe, excessive belief to the health, the standard value of the beauty of the proportion, forced to accept the value of the commercialization of the arts. Especially the tendency is obvious in the dancing. So the “ankoku Butoh” began to pose the doubt about them. Isn’t it the “Butoh” rediscovered the human gentleness after the 2nd world war? What is the “beauty”? What is the expression come from the the unique ethnicity body/culture? These questions are the starting points of the “Butoh”. The arrogant humanism, mammonism are covered the world and begin to alienate human being itself now. The uneasiness for the human being actually is the human being itself now.

Although globalization is loudly shouted nowadays, each of us has to find our ways to solve the problems and step forward. “Avant-garde art, zen ei gei jyutsu” isn’t formed by begging hands. False or untrue gentleness and sympathy have nothing to do with “Butoh”, because everyone stands with their own foot to start to dance. And it is necessary to go through a long pupa period to become to flap like a beautiful butterfly. There is hope in the difficulty, after pass through the darkness then the light of the hope is waiting for us. While the world is facing with the political turbulences and the changes of the economy, in fact in our inner side, “Butoh” let us know that there is a boundless space surpassing the reality. The master Hijikata Tatsumi said that “the Butoh learn from nature, the body learn from the things”, I feel that is very meaningful for me. I think that the “Butoh” lives independently in the world, and from now on I will keep on thinking what is “Butoh”?

Post by Laichee (with text from Yukio Waguri)

EX NIHILO/THE HUMAN EDGE

Image: Chris Nash

Image: Chris Nash

GemArts finished November 2014 with a spectacular duo of new works from our good friend Mayuri Boonham’s company ATMA Dance. Ex Nihilo/The Human Edge are a pair of complementary works, taking inspiration from sacred texts of India to explore the metaphysical origins of matter and the ancient questions of creation and human life.

Ex nihilo

There is an intriguing similarity between ancient philosophical questions of India and scientific inquiry about how our universe came into existence. The Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda will drive the choreography of Ex nihilo, which will be juxtaposed against a sound environment created from recordings of The Large Hadron Collider by Bill Fontana as part of his Prix Ars Electronica artist residency at CERN in Geneva.

The Human Edge

In this work Boonham looks at the perceivable aspect of the universe that is within our grasp – the human angle. The story of Sati, the first goddess, the first embodied energy who appears at the start of the Hindu mythological moment of creation. The choreography delves into the drama of Sati’s life, love and dramatic death as a metaphor of a star.

When Mayuri told GemArts about this new project, we were really excited and blown away by the enormity of the themes and subjects she would tackle. Something which also struck us, was the link to CERN and Bill Fontana’s recordings of the Largde Hadron Collider. Not only was Professor Higgs (who is recognised for identifying the Higgs Boson particle and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013) born in Elswick Newcastle, but we also have a superb Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) based at Durham University. To add something extra to the event, we invited Dr Alexander Lenz, Deputy Director at the IPPP, to join Mayuri Boonham in a post show In Conversation.

The performance was fantastic, the two pieces presented in a very unique way, with elements of jagged, almost mechanical movement in one followed by fluid, graceful sequences in the other. The sound and lighting was exceptional, breathtaking some said. Following the dancers performance, Dr Lenz and Mayuri led a lively discussion covering CERN, physics, dance, sound, silence, literature, maths, faith and much more.

You can read Living North’s review of the performance, plus In Conversation here.

Post by Sinead