International Culture Lab

International Culture Lab

is a performing arts organization dedicated to providing opportunities for artists from across the world to explore contemporary issues through jointly created projects.

We believe that art has a responsibility to contextualize and promote the diversity of cultures and to encourage, celebrate and learn from their differences. To that end, ICL collaborates with artists from other countries to explore our shared human condition.

What happens when Butoh meets cabaret and burlesque...
when the sacred meets the sensual...
when ceremony meets performance...



The Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival marks International Culture Lab's (ICL) third consecutive year probing the fantastical dancing partnership of ritual and entertainment on Coney Island USA's burlesque stage. In March 2017, ICL and CIUSA presented the Coney Island Butoh and Theatre Festival and in March 2016, the Coney Island Butoh and Beyond Festival.

This year ICL, with Brandon Perdomo as curator, has assembled an array of performance artists, musicians, and dancers, all of whom have been tasked with presenting original works that define "ritual cabaret" through the lens of their own particular aesthetic, discipline and lineage.

As a point of reference and inspiration, ICL looked to the origins of Butoh. Its founder Tatsumi Hijikata developed this ritualistic dance form hand-in-glove with the cabaret scene in the late sixties. During the day, Hijikata trained his dancers in exercises and techniques that would become Ankoku Butoh. At night they experimented with bringing their exploration into the competitive marketplace of cabaret/burlesque. "His shows got a reputation for being a kind of 'weird, funky cabaret' in which female nudity appeared along with surrealist and Dadaist images." (Rosemary Candelario, Flowers Cracking Concrete: Eiko & Koma's Asian/American Choreographies)

March 23 (8pm), March 24 (8pm) and March 25 (4pm)
Coney Island USA Mainstage, Surf Avenue at 12th Street.
All tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at, or at the door, night of performance

Also appearing with his own distinctive approach to sacred entertainment is Mexican master teacher Diego Piñón Body Ritual Movement (BRM). Over the past two years, though his intensives and ensemble performances at CIUSA, Piñón invented the term "ritual cabaret" as the defining aesthetic that resulted from his immersion into the historical and contemporary Coney Island. Following up his work at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center this past summer and an exploratory workshop at CIUSA last October, Piñón now deepens his ensemble's ritual cabaret study with another intensive workshop that will culminate in three unique nightly performances.

Cabaret, burlesque, vaudeville, and circus sideshow have had a long and storied history in Coney Island. And for over three decades now, ICL has endeavored to support CIUSA in meeting its mission: "Preserving and championing a set of uniquely American visual and performing art forms, we seek to create an international forum for cultural preservation and discourse, and where Coney Island represents these impulses, we strive to make it once again a center for live art and entrepreneurial spirit." We have now undertaken to merge the two companies' respective focal points in a powerful new way.

ICL's exploration of physical theatre began in 2000 with their collaboration with Argentine physical theatre ensembles El Rayo Misterioso and Willaldea where we produced our first Butoh-influenced theatre performance, Ubu Macbeth.

In subsequent years, ICL continued their study of Butoh with masters Diego Piñón, Atsushi Takenouchi, Yukio Waguri, Akira Kasai, Su-en, Yumiko Yoshioka, and others. In 2005 and 2007, we helped produce the CAVE New York Butoh Festivals. And in 2006 we produced FridgeFest in Philadelphia, debuting our Butoh-based production Diva Divan, which was reimagined and restaged in 2014 through workshops and performances with Margo Korableva Performance Theatre in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The NYC/Tbilisi exploration then led to the ICL and CIUSA production of The Coney Island Butoh and Theatre Festival in March 2016, and the Coney Island Butoh and Beyond Festival in March 2017. March 2018's Coney Island Ritual Cabaret Festival marks ICL's third year in Coney Island with Diego probing the fantastical dancing partnership of ritual and entertainment.