A Japanese friend named her first son Hibiki ("resonance"). It's one of my favorite Japanese words. Sankai Juku's "Hibiki" astounded me tonight at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, perhaps my favorite space for dance in the San Francisco Bay area.
I won't attempt to write about what butoh actually looks like. (I didn't even think it was possible until I heard poet Forrest Gander's work about Eiko and Koma this summer at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.) All I can say is Hibiki was one of the most affirming and exhilaratingly meditative stage works I've seen--ever.
I admit I'm a Japanophile. I've lived and worked in Japan and there are many, many Japanese intersections in my personal life and work. This, perhaps, predisposes me to connect with butoh, which, as I see it, is in full possession of that quintessentially Japanese trait: deliberateness.
The movement in Hibiki, from birth through the self's eventual return, is beautifully considered and minimally ecstatic. When the bisque colored backdrop returned in the final segment; when the performers repeatedly stood, reached upward and fell in their blessed semi-circle; when the music swelled beyond its harness and poured from the stage and into the audience--I wanted to praise. I didn't know what I wanted to praise but I was filled with understanding and it was praiseworthy. I hugged a friend at the end and said it was like church. No. It was better than that metaphor. It was independent of anything written and codified.