I felt both dazzled and skeptical about Sankai Juku’s recent visit, which I reviewed for the Chronicle yesterday, and I can’t say I’ve yet resolved my ambivalence:

“It’s not hard to see why Sankai Juku is the leading popularizer of Japanese butoh, so wildly loved that co-presenters San Francisco Performances and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts counted themselves lucky to book a sold-out, two-night midweek run at the YBCA Theater.

Bald and covered in white body paint per now-standard butoh cliche, these dancers look like eerily wise, ancient tortoises.

And yet they have the alabaster allure of mannequins in a Neiman Marcus window, so bathed is their every deliberate movement in brilliant light.

In “Kagemi,” the 2000 work now on national tour, they also have a stunning set: a ceiling of giant white lotus leaves that hover as though floating on water. Choreographer and founder Ushio Amagatsu has subtitled his work “Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors,” and apparently he intends us to see the dancers as though peered through the reflection of a lake, swimming in some primordial subconscious state. But whether you see “Kagemi” as flowing with watery meaning or flooded with empty butoh stereotypes may depend on the consciousness you bring to it.”

For the full review, click here.

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