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Yumino Seki is Under the Moon at the museum

So often you hear in Hastings, the phrase “Aren’t we lucky”– about the weather, the sea, the culture and the diverse creativity of art and music. Surprisingly, amongst this diversity is Butoh dance, created, choreographed and performed by Yumino Seki. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths talked to her about her latest production at Hastings Museum, Gekka, Under the Moon.

Butoh is a form of Japanese avant-garde dance. It emerged from the post war chaos in Japan after WWII when the country grappled with the clash between new Western technology and traditional Japanese values. Butoh was called ‘the dance of darkness’. Self-identity was integral to the dance, radically explored with visceral and complex expression.

For Gekka, Under the Moon, Yumino has been inspired by a 16th century Japanese Sumie painting, Gekka Shourin Zu, which portrays a pine forest shrouded in mist.

Sumie is Japanese black ink, simple, monochrome art featuring landscape, trees and plants, animals and birds. Simple but complex with cultural symbolism and metaphor. It is thought that a Japanese artist only draws when he/she has emotionally felt what it would be like to ‘be’ a plant or animal – only then, emptying themselves of all other thoughts, do they put brush to paper, feeling their way towards the image.

It is as if Yumino has aped the Japanese painters’ technique, opening herself instinctively to the influences of the moon and the mystery of the pine forest; emptying herself and pouring her emotional reactions onto her own unique canvas. She explains, “We are so action-based that when we stop, it is only then we can start perceiving.”

Keeping the tenets of Butoh – the subtle, minimal but powerful movements intact – she has interwoven intuitive, symbolic stories together, eastern and western cultures, traditional with contemporary, incorporating shifts in time and space. Yumino and three other dancers – all from different cultural backgrounds – connect and evoke physical and emotional effects of the moon in subtle, powerful, ritualistic movements.

The dance explores the pine forest, there are horses, a troop of blind people communicating through their senses in their blackness; birth and death; the feminine energy of the moon; her own exploratory solo, ending in a light-hearted contemporary, surreal, dream-like sequence.

 Image by Maxi Della-Porta

Image by Maxi Della-Porta

Yumino Seki has performed before in Hastings: Hyakki Yakou, A Night Walk of A Hundred Demons (2013) at Hastings Museum; and Manjusaka, The Equinox Flower (2015) at The Stade.

Gekka, Under the Moon sees her back at the museum. The Durbar Hall seems to mesh serendipitously with Yumino’s work. The museum’s eccentric, ancient, modern and somewhat surrealist exhibits and atmosphere range from around the globe and the hall’s two levels gives her the ability to play with shifts in  space and time.

At times the dance will feel dark and dense, other times light-hearted and contemporary. Let your mind flow, go with the movement, the different senses of sight, hearing and smell. Be inspired. “We are so lucky” to be able to experience that in Hastings.

Gekka, Under the Moon Directed by Yumino Seki, performed by Andrada Jichici, Helen Adove Hawk, Sunara Begum and Yumino Seki. Soundscape by Caleb Madden and Nick Weekes. Supported by Theatre Arts @ London Met.

There are three performances at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, Bohemia Road, Hastings TN34 1ET, on Saturday 29 September at 6pm and 8pm and on Sunday 30 September at 5pm. Tickets £5 from Eventbrite, £8 on the door. (As the museum has a limited capacity, early booking is recommended).


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Posted 18:56 Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018 In: Performance

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