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South Bank
Millennium Walk, January
Broad Street

The Forest That Sailed Away
Minster Lovell Hall

Reflecting Narcissus
Botanic Garden

Millennium Walk, December


In 2000, Cafe Reason undertook a Millennium project, marking the year by bringing butoh into the streets of Oxford, responding to the changing seasons and, through dance, trying to rediscover and transform the familiar places of the city, both for themselves and for their incidental audience. These 12 improvisations were the starting point for a very diverse range of site-specific projects, which moved on to include gardens (Oxford Botanic Garden, Rousham Garden), ancient ruins and groves (Minster Lovell, Wittenham Clumps), allotments (Elder Stubbs), monuments (St. Giles), and many more.

The linking principle of all this work is that of willingness to enter the spirit of a place: an exploration of and interaction with the environment that is innocent of preconception, that is sensual, intimate, unafraid. While much butoh dance is sourced from inner experience - memory, emotion, imagination, the impulses of the body itself - there is also a butoh response to the landscape (or cityscape) which connects the internal and external experiences; the dancer is not separate from or in opposition to the space, but co-existent.

The space between
Butoh in the Botanic Garden

There must be ghosts here
more quiet than us, white-painted,
waiting to begin. Perhaps clasped
in the shadow of the arch
or the ramp of sunlight,
in the warm heave of the soil
or the round black eye of the lily pond.

Through the fennel fronds
in the herbaceous border
the sky is a thousand blue fragments.
When I blink they will scatter
like the notes of the koto;
they will freckle my cheeks
with the scales of butterflies.

We seek interstices ­
the space between phloem and xylem,
the cleavage in the rocks,
the pause between chimes, between breaths,
the still centre.
We dance the unspoken thoughts
spilling between words.

Monet, painting lilies,
knew about this. He pulled
a curtain of light onto his canvas ­
motes and scintilllas, reflections and shadows,
there and not there;
and slowly, as his eyes clouded,
he began to lose blue.

To span the bridge
linking act and intention,
my steps must not ripple the air:
Keeping the moment impeccable, infinite,
out on the edge,
I will leave no footprint
and the water will bear me.

Ayala Kingsley