This Saturday, November 7, choreographer Oguri and the L.A.-based dance company Body Weather Laboratory bring Caddy! Caddy! Caddy! to The Toby. Named for a character in William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and The Fury, the performance features slow movements drawn from the modern Japanese art of Butoh. In the interview below, Oguri puts his work in context.
Interview with Oguri
What’s your mission, or hope, as an artist?
Dance. Basically I feel inspired to dance. I began dancing with Body Weather and Tatsumi Hijikata’s work, but it was not to learn a kind of tradition or to be a ‘dancer’. I was attracted by the spirit and community. Body Weather does not teach one how to move but is an investigation of the body through working with and learning from others and explores the connection of body to space. A lot of people connect Butoh with the atomic bomb and Hiroshima, and I want to make it clear that that is a misunderstanding. Of course that is a very strong human experience and everything is related, but Butoh is not a direct expression for that. Rather the dance is a possibility for human understanding. Butoh is revolutionary, but it just means ‘dance’. Dance doesn’t have a goal. I work between my body and myself.
How did Caddy! Caddy! Caddy! come to be?
Because of my interest in William Faulkner.
How does Caddy! relate to the Japanese performing arts tradition?
I found Faulkner through Japanese literature. Oe and Nakagami were inspired by him, and if they are like my fathers, I wanted to meet my grandfather. When Faulkner visited Japan in the mid-1950s after World War II, he said I am like you. I come from the south–the losers country. There is physicality in Oe and Nakagami’s work, and for me that is dance. I find the same thing in Faulkner’s work.
What influence has Butoh had on you as a performing artist?
Butoh is respect of Tatsumi Hijikata’s dance. In Japan, there was folkdance, ballet, and modern dance. There was a society where performers presented seven-minute pieces for a classy, sophisticated audience. Hijikata comes along half naked and shines the light in the audience’s eyes. He brought the idea of homosexuality and sex and eroticism on stage. He killed a chicken on stage, and the little girls fainted and he was kicked out. After he was expelled, people sought him out because he seemed so cool, and at the time, many people had the same antiestablishment sense. He did a lot of collaborations and events, but it was very avant-garde, very strong cutting edge work.
This year’s Spirit & Place theme is “Inspiring Places.” Does Caddy! take its sense of place from Faulkner’s writing?
William Faulkner lived his entire life in one small county town. From there he created hundreds of characters and lives full of memories and imagination. He invented a fictional place, Yoknapawtawpha, that the reader feels and travels through. In the dance we carry the spirit of the stories.
Can you describe what it’s like to perform this piece?
I have the opportunity to be in Faulkner’s imagination, to dance his stories in space and explore many different characters and the strength and depth of humanity.
What do you ask of the audience who attends this performance?
If you have a chance, please read Faulkner.
Caddy! Caddy! Caddy! The William Faulkner Dance Project is Saturday, November 7 at 7 pm in The Toby. Tickets are $10 for the public and $7 for IMA members. Purchase tickets online
BONUS: Show any Toby ticket stub and receive half off the ticket price for Caddy!