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Yuko Kaseki

Yuko Kaseki

Yuko Kaseki
Image Credit: Barbara Dietl

Dorothea Schlegel Artist in Residence, Research Area 2: "Travelling Matters"

October – November 2023

Female Embodiment in Myth and in Reality

Who wrote the stories of women in myths and tales? Currently, 90% of the information on Wikipedia seems to be written by men. We do not know who wrote Gilgamesh and the Bible, two ancient collections of stories, but there is a clear gender bias in both. The world has been written by men.

Kaseki created a stage piece called DIVINE, based on the ballet Giselle and the Kabuki ghost story Oiwa. In the stories, women are either young, beautiful and devoted to men, or old, ugly and frightening. Misogynistic stories abound in the East and the West, ancient and modern.

In this research project, Kaseki will be DOING Hiromi Ito's works.

Ito's writings often allude to her own life blending fiction and non-fiction.
In this case, Ito offers a new perspective based on a story written by a man.

Anju Himeko is Hiromi Ito's creation based on a Sekkyobushi (sutra-based ballad) called Sansho-dayu and the Kojiki (Japanese Records of Ancient Matters). Using the Sekkyobushi as nature literature and aural composition as a foundation, Ito depicts and tells the story of the past and continues it to the present day at a breathless pace, making it even harsher, crueller, more carnal and more numbing beyond resignation, though it is presented as ordinary everyday life. There is despair, but there is also the manifestation of bright and strong life. Ito narrates the story, her daughter Kanoko Nishi improvises on the Koto (Japanese harp) and Kaseki dances to make the literature three-dimensional. How can the fate of a Japanese woman be physically translated in Germany? How can the artists apply their bodies to it, transcending the differences in language and physical space?

Butoh has a strong affinity with language. Both Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, the founders of Butoh, danced the female form. Kaseki makes a new attempt to return the body to the hands of a woman, together with a woman's words.

Yuko Kaseki has been a director, choreographer, Butoh dancer, performer, improviser and teacher in Berlin since 1995. She studied Butoh dance and performing arts at HBK Braunschweig with Anzu Furukawa and danced in her company Dance Butter Tokio and Verwandlungsamt from 1989 to 2000.

Yuko Kaseki co-founded the dance company cokaseki in 1995. She has been involved in various projects with international musicians, performers and artists. Solo and ensemble performances as well as improvisations took the company to about 30 countries. Those creations are accumulations of poetic and vivid images that incorporate the spirit of Butoh, performance and live art. Her performance aims to reflect the outsider's existence. Her recent interests revolve around physical statements reflected by social viewpoints and diverse lives.

Her collaboration with Theater Thikwa (Berlin), which works with people with a broad range of disabilities, allowed her to redefine the concept of her dance and had a great influence on later activities. Her strong interest in breaking down the limits of physical expression have led and continue to lead to many collaborations with mixed ability artists such as Roland Walter (Berlin), Sung Kuk Kang (Seoul) and Zan-Chen Liao (Taipei).

She was an Artist Fellow at the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at Freie Universität Berlin in 2012-13.