Kowloon Walled City: A Butoh Interpretation (舞踏九龍城寨) is a collaborative project between a group of Japanese artists and local HK dancers/musicians based on the theme of “Kowloon Walled City.”
Butoh (暗黑舞踏) is a style of dance that originated in post-war Japan. It was a dance style that was created in rebellion against both Japanese classical dance and Western modern/contemporary dance, because those beautiful, stylised dance styles seemed inadequate to capture the trauma of this post-war period.
Kowloon Walled City (九龍城寨) was also described sometimes as City of Darkness. Not only was it considered to be a morally dubious place, but architecturally, the density of the dwellings made it a dark maze. Nevertheless, there is something wild, anarchical and organic about the Walled City which fascinates people, foreign and local alike.
Why is the Walled City so compelling? Is there something about the spirit of the Walled City that we feel is missing in our more “civilized”, sanitized version of Hong Kong or Tokyo? What lessons can we learn from our history and mythology?
Through the process of research and imagination, the group hopes to create a dance performance that goes beyond a historical recreation into our own Walled City to make a dance piece that taps into our own yearnings and courage to be responsible for our own survival and governance.
Entitled the “Second Tower of Babel”, the performance alludes to the temporal hopes and ambitions of the inhabitants living in the city (the city was the first port of call for many immigrants on their way to a better life), as well as the folly of a cross-cultural collaboration to access something that is no more.