By Sondra Horton
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Extra info for Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo (Routledge Performance Practitioners)
Yoshito provides us with an account of his father through the eyes of a son who practiced and danced with him from a young age, first performing under his father’s watchful eye in Hijikata’s very controversial Kinjiki when he was just twenty. In a video production of Ohno’s life, 96 Years Old: Lifelong Butohist, Dancing in My Hometown, one sees the complete dedication and respect that Yoshito has toward his father in his old age, and how he so tenderly takes care of him (ETV 2003). Ohno gets constant attention and love from his wife and family, especially his son and dancing partner, and he continues to participate in dance by being present in the classes that Yoshito teaches in their now famous Yokohama studio carrying on his father’s work.
OHNO’S INTERNATIONAL STAGE Ohno is butoh’s ambassador: Butoh’s best moment is the moment of extreme weariness when we make a supreme effort to overcome exhaustion. That reminds me of my show in Caracas. I was covered in sweat. My body had grown old and I was working like a rickety old car, but I was happy. Is that what we call wearing oneself out for glory? (Ohno Kazuo in Slater 1986: 8) Achieving world renown at the age of seventy-four, a time when most dancers have long since retired, Ohno became the leading international representative of butoh.
Most of the dances that became part of Ohno’s repertoire were from this late period of collaboration – with the younger Hijikata BUTOH SHAPESHIFTERS 33 34 BUTOH SHAPESHIFTERS as director and the elder Ohno as dancer. Ohno sometimes spoke of his attraction to Hijikata’s dance methods: “The most important thing that I received from Mr. Hijikata was the power and strength of eroticism; he could show that it was so exquisite, something so strong that people were afraid of it” (Ohno in Slater 1986: 8).