Day 5 with Hiroko Tomano and Butoh warm up at The Headwaters

Today was intense.

Woke up at 10am… rushed out the door.

12pm Start class at The Headwaters.

Today in class… well, we did a variation of the wind back exercise which is a lot of deep plies with some strong upper chest isolation and micro-arching. We also went through a series of movements which had us invite the universe to our belly button (deep contraction) hip moves flat, uncurl spine, cup hands to present energy from the heart and a deep reach out while balancing on one foot… then curl back in and repeat on each side and front numerous times. This to me was very challenging but the kind of technique I’m living for in this class. Very clear imagery with a focused, present and very challenging yet achievable movement vocabulary. It’s some deep core work having to squat, curl, flatten, reach, balance and replace on a loop for 15 minutes. Sometimes Hiroko will start the section then start to make adjustments with folks and SOMETIMES she stays with that person for a while and the others are left to continue repeating or phase their movement out until H. is watching again. I say, all of that is valid cause this dance is strenuous and day 5 of this you start to see folks cracking a little.
The cracking. The mystery of this dance form for me has multiple levels and layers… One part art therapy, butoh (at least the classes I’ve taken with Diego Pinon and Hiroko Tomano) verges on being a healing modality by fusing symbol, imagination, deep somatic core work and community support. It feels really good to be around a bunch of dancers from all types of technique, age and experience level stumbling through to keep up with Ms. H. It’s also good to watch other people “get it” and then kinda fly with this realization and physical luminosity when the sensation of imagery is REAL. Getting cracked open is the time in a workshop or class or personal growth moment when you give up the preciousness of wanting to be seen and be good and sink into the meat of the work and start working your muscle, your tendon, your joints and, yes… your ego. Sometimes you gotta be big before you can drop it… and when it cracks open it is beautiful and ugly to watch. Personally, I haven’t cracked open into the blissful-ugly space yet but I can feel the burn from all the squats, twists and stress. Later in the day during the rehearsal part of my day with Hiroko she had me be a puppy and I WAS NOT HAVING IT. I had to sit down on my ankle (ouch) chest out shoulders back, chin up and out and learn to howl silently inside my head. I did it because I need to learn how to be adaptable… and cause H. said so and this is her ship so…. But yeah, didn’t want to be a puppy, I didn’t want to be reminded my body is boney and oucy on the floor, I didn’t want to be reminded of my limitations and inexperience and in that way I cracked because I had to give up wanting to look good on stage in butoh.


cause honey, authenticity isn’t always rainbows and entertaining glances.

Tune up class today was very squatty, and archy. We had lots of deep breathing moments… also… some jumping in the air and seeing how long you could stay in the air. FUN!


After tune up and rehearsal I ran home to get dolled up for PEEP show. Then I went to see my friends movie TRANNYSNATCHERS, and THEN wen to Peep Show to perform a number I had created for my sister Raijah (whom I donated all my tips to)

Guess who showed up!

Hiroko and Maria from class! So, of course I get a little EXTRA nervous but it was too late to do anything cause I saw they were in the front row AS I WAS WALKING ON STAGE and yeah, the show must go on regardless of whether I feel I’m ready or not.

The piece went lovely and magical. H. Maria and I hung out with Lillian and some friends and chatted up Hiroko who gave us an earful about how the lighting could be better and how much fun she had. She said she loved the blonde unicorn (Racheal Palmer) very much and LOVED Melody Awesomeamazing’s outfit.

Oh, H. also taught me how to vogue…

ALSO, H met my performance partner and bon vivant Carla Rossi who promptly said “Hi, nice to meet you Hiroko, this is my demon baby Flarla!”

Preciousness incarnate.



About Kaj-anne Pepper
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