A movement that will not be fixed: Kazuo Ohno and La Argentina has been organized to coincide with the presentation in the Museum, in collaboration with the Teatros del Canal Canal, Comunidad de Madrid, of About Kazuo Ohno (2013), a piece in which the Japanese choreographer Takao Kawaguchi uses audiovisual documents to build up an imitation of the movements of the dance maestro Kazuo Ohno (1906-2010), an admirer in his turn of the Spanish dancer Antonia Mercé y Luque, known as “La Argentina” (1890-1936).
The centerpiece of the show is a photograph of the premiere on November 1, 1977, of the famous solo Admiring La Argentina, created by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in an attempt to retrieve the movements of the Spanish artist. In the photograph, Hijikata holds Ohno’s aged body in the air during the audience’s ovation. The photographer Naoya Ikegami captured this moment, which could be related metaphorically to the fact that dance, even when performed as a solo, is always imbued with the movements of other bodies in what the art historian Georges Didi-Huberman called a “companionable solitude peopled with images, ghosts and memories”.
La Argentina, whose ambition was to transform popular dance into avant-garde art, sustained her movements on the corporalities of others, and her pieces incorporated elements of traditional dances from different cultures, like those of the Philippines and Japan. Her performance in 1929 at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo made such an impact on Kazuo Ohno, that he left the Japanese College of Athletics, where he was training as a gymnast, to devote himself exclusively to dance. Both La Argentina and Kazuo Ohno became symbolic representations of societies in the throes of transformation – that of Spain prior to the Civil War in one case, and that of post-war Japan in the other – not only because of the urge to experiment that distinguished their dance, but also because of their significance and enormous influence.
With photographs, drawings, annotations, posters and films, the show is based on the study of crucial aspects of Kawaguchi’s methodology, such as the copy, the tracing, and the relationship between fixed image and movement, generating a constellated display that connects moments which are not spectacular but are of symbolic importance for the three protagonists: La Argentina receiving her decoration, and her voyage to Japan; Kazuo Ohno rehearsing with Hijikata in his dressing room, or the notation of his choreography; and Takao Kawaguchi carrying out his process of pencil tracing on the screen. Other resonances are included too, such as Rocío Molina’s reconstruction of La Argentina’s filmed dance, which she deprives of music to leave only the sound of the castanets.
In short, the show offers an emotional itinerary that explores how movement is transferred from one body to another, and how new images, traces, drawings and rhythms appear with every attempt to fix it.
Isabel de Naverán. Materials on Kazuo Ohno selected in conversation with Toshio Mizohata, director of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio.
A movement that will not be fixed: Kazuo Ohno and La Argentina follows on from the research initiated by the exhibition 1930. In the Pact of San Sebastián. History and Syncope (Sala Ganbara, Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea) within the framework of the Peace Treaty project curated by Pedro G. Romero for Donostia-San Sebastián European Cultural Capital 2016.
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