Excerpt from the first annual CONEY ISLAND BUTOH & BEYOND (video by Christopher Miller):
ALSO FEATURING: Underground performance and burlesque artist Miss Mary Cyn, who will provide an alt-burlesque tribute; contemporary performance explorer; former Naropa University Guest Artist Jen Hix, who will give us a unique and original work, and Brooklyn artist, teacher, and actor Erin Mansur to excerpt Shakespeare's Prospero.
CONEY ISLAND is famous for its historical exhibitions of living forms – human, non-human "and beyond." Displaying everything from “freaks, geeks and human curiosities” to a bewildering assortment of captured and caged animals, the menagerie was central to the often exploitative thrills of old Coney Island.
For 3 evenings only, International Culture Lab gathers an idiosyncratic “menagerie” of 20 Butoh performers who—under the guidance of Mexican master teacher Diego Piñón—will explore this history through body rituals on Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore stage. Joined by a revue of acts beyond Butoh but exploring these central themes, each evening will be a unique extravaganza.
INTERNATIONAL CULTURE LAB, especially early in its history as Thieves Theatre, examined the role of "the other" in contemporary society with a series of controversial landmark productions starting with its 1982 collaboration with a group of ex-mental patients called On Our Own in a production of Marat/Sade; to its world premiere in 1987 of Fassbinder's "unproducable" Trash, the City, and Death; and perhaps its best known project, the 1990-1993 Nomad Monad: The Making of Thieves Theatre's Last Stand where the company's directors erected an authentic Sioux tipi, handmade from 78 US#3 mailbags, in the then oldest Manhattan shantytown at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. [see Spring 2015 issue of PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art]
DIEGO PIÑÓN's Body Ritual Movement is the distillation of his extensive research in body-based energy methodologies since 1975. BRM is primarily derived from Piñón's Mexican heritage with traditional energetic practices and Japanese Butoh under the guidance of Kazuo Ohno, Yoshito Ohno, Min Tanaka, Natsu Nakajima, among others. He performs and teaches throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico using BRM as a means to transform personal and collective divisions through the dancing body in order to cultivate a deeper connection to our shared humanity. Piñón proposes the possibility of developing an aliveness on stage beyond the personal ego that can be carried equally in art, in ritual, and in our daily lives.
CONEY ISLAND USA exists to defend the honor of American popular culture through innovative exhibitions and performances. Presenting and producing exciting new works, the organization's approach is rooted in mass culture and the traditions of P.T. Barnum, dime museums, burlesque, circus sideshows, vaudeville, and Coney Island itself. Serving both New York City and an international community that includes visitors to Coney Island and enthusiasts of various cultural forms, Coney Island USA's signature activities include the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, the Coney Island Museum, and new theatrical work.