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(Photo: Peter Green)
(Photo: Paul Freestone)
(Photo: Paul Freestone)
(Photo: Paul Freestone)
(Video still: Peter Glyn Jones)
(Photo: Natalia Latoch)
The way in which people join Café Reason is an organic, rather than a formal one. New dancers are absorbed into the company by becoming regular attendees at class and (usually subsequently) by developing and performing work with us and contributing to our projects. The point at which someone is ready to perform depends on their level of experience and growth (and enthusiasm for lunatic adventures) and also on what we are trying to do at the time. Some Café Reason members have been involved since the very beginning, some are newcomers, while others may have not danced with us recently but have a long-standing association with the group. Each person brings to the mix their unique life-history, body-form, and artistic contribution. We also work with many 'associated artists' – musicians, singers, photographers, film-makers, and visual artists – and these creative relationships enrich all our endeavours.
Jeannie Donald-McKim studied butoh in Japan for several years, choreographing and appearing in numerous performances. On her return to the UK she founded Café Reason and has conceived, choreographed and directed most of their major work. She runs butoh classes and workshops and is a practising dance therapist. She uses imagery from the unconscious, body-based sensation, and responses to the environment, words and music to inspire her dance. "For me, butoh is a way of approaching images and emotions that lie very deep, of exploring the territory between inner and outer worlds and expressing the essence of the shifting boundaries."
Ayala Kingsley is a founding member of Café Reason. She graduated from the Central School of Art & Design, London in 1976 and is a graphic designer and poet. Although she studied ballet as a child, Ayala came to butoh through Shintaido, the innovative Japanese movement system with its roots in the martial arts, which she practised for 9 years. "Butoh allows me to discover, distil and reveal the essential truth of inner experience and give it honest, meaningful and playful expression."
Fabrizia Verrecchia began her love for dance at the age of eight, attending Indian classical dance classes. She has studied with the Academy of Indian Dance, currently performing and giving demonstrations. She runs regular workshops and classes in Bharatanatyam and yoga. One of the original members of the group, Fabrizia has performed with Café Reason from the beginning.
Ana Barbour is an independent dance artist specialising in improvisation, site-specific work, cross-art-form collaboration and, more recently, dance film. With a background in a variety of dance forms, she studied Indian classical dance (Odissi) at the Temple of Fine Arts, Kuala Lumpur, and trained in butoh under Lena Ang. Performing extensively and later choreographing and teaching with Taro Dance Theatre in Malaysia, she then returned to the UK and continued investigation of butoh under a number of butoh masters. She joined Café Reason in 1999 and became a core member of the group, sharing teaching, choreography, and direction.
Paul Mackilligin has been practising butoh with Café Reason since 2001. His main artistic interest lies in the interaction between performer and audience. "Butoh dance gives me a context for intimacy with an audience which is quite unique I think. On good days I leave my personality behind - like taking off an overcoat or peeling off a skin - and what I find underneath is a thing that the audience recognises even if they have no words for it. Butoh is not a polite thing to do to an audience, but it is an act of solidarity."
Cath Blackfeather joined Café Reason in 2014. She has no formal training but over 25 years’ experience working in movement and expressive arts in social and therapeutic contexts. She has always been interested in the more abstract and avant-garde aspects of contemporary dance and physical theatre. "I see Butoh as both a delving deep within myself to find the roots of movement and allowing myself to be permeable to outside, intangible forces that can manifest through me. I was once asked, during a class, to feel myself moving into an infinite space with all past human history behind me and moving through me. To me, that is the perfect expression of what Butoh is all about."
Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? Obsessed with existential questions of what it means to be a human being, Karen Goonewardene has spent a lifetime in search of self through the visual arts. From carving and contemplating three-dimensional forms, Karen embarked on a journey of ambiguity and discovery through an MA in Contemporary Art at Oxford Brookes University, where she developed her practice in installation, sound art, film projection and performance art. Enticed by the historical beginnings of Butoh in Japan, she became fascinated with the freedom of self-expression this new discipline offered. “…it was a revelation, something I’d always known was inside me!” Karen joined Café Reason in 2016. “It is giving me the opportunity to experiment with the interactional space between people and to explore expressing my life experiences through different qualities of dance movement.”
Robin Cooke began training with Café Reason in 2015. Given longstanding attractions to dance theatre and oriental arts, a step into butoh at Café Reason may have been just around the corner. Robin has practised Tai Ki Kung under the guidance of Ming Wong C Y. He now also immerses himself in Yumiko Yoshioka's 'Body Resonance' approach to butoh training. Of the charms of Café Reason he says, "I've always fallen for those thoughtful cafés where the reasoning is variable. While not exactly a place, Café Reason offers inebriating space to bodies and mind."
Michelle Azdajic is an independent dance artist. She began dancing at the age of three. Her roots are in classical ballet and modern dance, followed by release technique, contact improvisation, and authentic movement. In 2001 she graduated from the University of South Florida, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance Performance. She has performed with Moving Current Dance Collective and Gaudere Danza. She was introduced to butoh while under the direction of Elsa Valbuena, which transformed her approach to movement and performance entirely. She’s staged her own works, performed and taught throughout the USA, in Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bolivia, and Costa Rica. Her research in authentic movement led her to facilitating dance workshops for inter-ethnic reconciliation and addiction rehabilitation in Bosnia and Kosovo. She now resides in the UK. “It’s Michelle like the song. I’m here. I really don’t know. Just him. No thanks, I prefer coffee. I was 8. Why do you want to know?”
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