Ledoh offers a new interpretation of butoh with Suicide Barrier: secure in our illusion at ODC
Ledoh lives in Sonoma and San Francisco. His daughters, whom he had to take to their piano lessons between a rehearsal and this interview, live in SF. The eternal commute between the two places may well have sown the seeds for what has become Suicide. The Golden Gate Bridge Authority is considering installing a wall and a net to discourage jumpers. The intent may be to save lives but, in all likelihood, an ancillary purpose may be avoiding lawsuits. It's a very fractured approach to seeing reality.
For Ledoh, this act of wall-building became an image of a self-deception that inevitably alienates us from full consciousness. For some, that blindness is hubris; for others, it means an inability to see the "other." In his work, Ledoh tries to penetrate the false sense of reality and security that he observes everywhere in contemporary life. It's in the dancer whom he sees only as a reflection thrown back by a mirror — and in the shopper who walks the aisles of a supermarket. He finds it even in the Ka-Ren, who, with the advent of ecotourism, "are now stuck in a game reserve of a natural forest."
In a publicity shot, Ledoh is shown with a white flower stuck in his mouth. Is it a chrysanthemum, a funeral flower in many cultures? "It is a Gerbera daisy, and yes, it is a mourning flower for me," he explains. The Ka-Ren grow them — for export.
Ledoh is not naïve about our ability to break through the walls we build around ourselves. He calls it "chasing our tail and never biting into it." In his art, he tries to get as close as he can. Butoh, he says, is the means to "keep it honest, not to stylize," which would distort the perspective. Working with the exquisite, ballet-trained Ho, he whispers images to her: "brush it away"; "reach for the apple." These images, he later explains, are grasped by the mind that then has to let them sink inside the body. Gradually, Ho transforms herself into a vessel beyond what she thought she was. Then the choreographer encourages her to open and neutralize her eyes. When she no longer focuses, her eyes have become lenses through which we can look inside.
SUICIDE BARRIER: SECURE IN OUR ILLUSION
Fri/3-Sat/4, 8 p.m.; Sun/5, 7 p.m., $15–$18
3153 17th St., SF (415) 863-9834 www.odctheater.org