~Butoh at the Joyce - I've never been very interested in dance performances, but when a friend invited me to see the Japanese Butoh dancers Sankai Juku perform their 2008 piece, Tobari As if in an inexhaustible flux, at the Joyce Theater last week, I figured "What the hey? Why not?", and I'm so glad I did. Performed by a troupe of eight, bald, male dancers whose bodies are entirely powdered in white (sometimes resembling marble sculptures, sometimes resembling ghosts, and sometimes stupidly reminding me of that movie Powder), the performance was beautiful, emotional, and powerful. Everything from the graceful and controlled movements (which often released snowy wafts of powder), the gorgeous costumes, the dramatic lighting, and the music (which reminded me of a low-fi version of The Knife), was perfect and merged to create a poetic and hypnotic experience. I know this description won't do it justice at all, but it's like a mixture of modern dance (minus the jazz hands), kabuki, tai chi, and slow-motion kung fu, mime, and vogue poses. I know that sounds down-right awful, but the choreography is complex, fluid, and disciplined, and the overall production, that explores life, death, and rebirth, was elegant, evocative, and haunting - almost moving me to tears a few times.
Founded in 1975 by lead dancer, director, choreographer and designer, Ushio Amagatsu, Sankai Juku introduces a new work approximately every two years (!) and has performed in 41 countries and over 700 cities around the world. According to the Playbill, Amagatsu's works present "an abstract vision of the infinite, evolutionary movements, the relationship of the body to gravity, and the relationship of gravity to the earth and the environment." Butoh emerged in Japan after WWII and is attributed to two dancers - Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno (who died June 1, 2010 at the age of 103 and is featured on the cover of Antony and the Johnson's 2009 album The Crying Light). Whether you're a fan of dance performance or not, go see Tobari performed by Sankai Juku before it ends October 17th. Learn more at Joyce.org.
~Levi's Photo Workshop pop-up - Levi's just opened up in Soho a Photo Workshop - a "community-oriented space" that will host photo exhibits, classes, events and parties. Open through December 18th, the space has a small shop area selling books, jeans, and jackets and more importantly has a fully equipped photo studio available for rent, vintage cameras available for rent, and rows of Macs and assorted printers for visitors to use free of charge! Check it out at 18 Wooster Street and learn more at workshops.levi.com.
~The Simpsons Meet Banksy - I've gotten into the habit of only half-watching The Simpsons since the last few seasons haven't been as good as they used to be (though it's still a heck of a lot better than most anything else on television), so when I glanced up mid-way through last night's couch gag showing a dank and miserable Chinese sweatshop producing cheap Simpsons merchandise I thought, "Huh?" Then when I noticed during the end credits that Banksy created the politically-scathing sequence it all made sense. Had I seen his name tagged throughout Springfield during the opening sequence I would have saved myself some confusion. This airing is very apropos to further irking China alongside Liu Xiaobo's recent Nobel Peace Prize win. Anyhoo, you can see the show's opening below.