The otherworldly Japan-based ensemble Dairakudakan returns in celebration of award-winning Choreographer/Artistic Director Akaji Maro’s 45th anniversary with the butoh-theatre company. Maro has advanced butoh considerably through dramatic choreography and theatrics, coupled with a distinct focus on individuality within the group. Here are Maro’s thoughts on Paradise…“When I was thinking about a new work, these words came to my mind: paradise, paratyphoid, paranoia…. It sounded like a disease. When you think about hell, there are a lot of ideas. For example, there is The Divine Comedy by Dante.
In Buddhism, there are eight forms of hell. In real life, hell is killing each other in the battlefield. But, I don’t know much about paradise. We can imagine as much as we want, but I wanted to pursue something more realistic. The origin of word “paradise” is from an old Persian word and it means “enclosed garden.” In a hot desert, a garden would have been paradise. At that time, I think there was an idea that the world was tough and hellish and to contrast that, the idea of paradise must have been created. In Buddhism, hell is called Sukhavati or Western Paradise (Gokurakujodo in Japanese). In our environment, there are a lot of things such as severe cold weather and typhoons that threaten creatures. Under these circumstances, animals will hibernate and remain still. When humans face something insufferable, we try to work it out. For example, our brain produces endorphins and transforms pain to pleasure. In other words, pain can transform to paradise within our body. Paradise can be called a product of perseverance. How you work around pain and how you seek pleasure can be limitless. People won’t feel the fighting in a war when they are having a good time in an opium den. From the outside, something may look miserable; from the inside, maybe it’s paradise.”