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Release: Jan. 19, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Dairakudakan is pronounced "dai-ra-koo-dah-kahn.")

Dairakudakan brings primitive edge of Japan’s butoh movement to UI Hancher Auditorium

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dairakudakan will bring the raw extreme of Japan’s butoh tradition to the University of Iowa in a performance of the landmark work "Sea-Dappled Horse" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 in Hancher Auditorium.

Like the more famous ensemble Sankai Juku, which participated in Hancher’s Millennium Festival last season, the dance/theater company Dairakudakan is part of Japan’s post-war, anti-establishment butoh tradition. But while Sankai Juku is elegant and stylized, Dairakudakan is raw, primitive and shocking.

The work that Dairakudakan (which means "Great Camel Battleship") will perform is founder Akaji Maro’s "Sea Dappled Horse," a work of over-the-top theatricality and humor that transports its audience from the creation of the world to an underworld of hellish spirits from Japanese folklore.

Created in 1982, "Sea-Dappled Horse" is considered not only one of Maro’s masterpieces but also a landmark of modern dance, and it has been revived for this rare, four-week American tour of Dairakudakan. Performed by a cast of 20, this work juxtaposes symbols from Japanese traditions and stylized Kabuki action with Christian icons and an ultramodern expressionist approach.

A review in the New York Times called Dairakudakan "visionary theater -- powerful, largely grotesque, as much a nightmare as a dream . . . Mr. Maro expresses it all. Anger, vulgarity and sensitivity are pitted against one another, controlled by his razor-sharp sense of timing."

Maro emerged on the Japanese performance scene in the mid-1960s, becoming a protege of the butoh choreographer Tatsmi Hijikata. In 1972 Maro established Dairakudakan, which performed for a decade in Japan before touring internationally, including the Festival d’Avignon and the American Dance Festival in 1982.

The large-scale ensemble has served as the training ground for butoh companies, including Sankai Juku and Buto-Sha Tenkei, which have attracted devoted followings in the West. Dairakudakan received the Japan Dance Critics Association’s Award in 1978, 1987, 1996 and 2000.

The performance of "Sea-Dappled Horse" includes some nudity.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen is the corporate sponsor of the Dairakudakan performance, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $30, $27 and $22. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with zone 2 and 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>. Learn about Dairakudakan at < >.