The Empty Room, a diverse program of international performances led by butoh dance theater artist Michael Sakamoto with renowned artists from Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and the U.S., will be presented at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2 at Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica.
Named after a 13th century Zen koan that calls for letting go of distractions and ego, The Empty Room is a dance and music journey into the crisis of consciousness in contemporary society, event organizers said. The performance addresses themes of desire, identity, self-awareness, the environment and the hope of democracy.
Each segment of The Empty Room is a 20-30 minute work that combines butoh with other dance and music forms, including hip-hop, traditional Thai, classical Cambodian, Balinese mask, postmodern dance, new music mixology, and koto/guitar improvisation.
The performances, which are inspired by the butoh concept of the “body in crisis,” address a wide range of social and global crises, including environmental devastation, urban sustainability, and the search for meaning in a post-industrial, consumer landscape, organizers note.
Collaborating performers include hip-hop choreographer-dancer Rennie Harris; new music composer and electronic percussionist Amy Knoles; Japanese performers Mao Arata and Tetsuro Koyano; Thai dancer Waewdao Sirisook; Cambodian dancer Chey Chankethya; and Vietnamese-American dancer Nguyen Nguyen, with additional music by Japanese musicians Reiko Imanishi and Shinichi Isohata.
Program works include:
“Flash” – choreographed and performed by Sakamoto and Harris;
“White Screen” – dance by Sakamoto and Sirisook, music by Knoles;
“Genjokoan” – dance by Koyano, Arata, Sirisook, and Sakamoto; and
“Soil” – dance by Chankethya, Sirisook, and Nguyen, directed by Sakamoto, music by Imanishi and Isohata.
Tickets are $20 for general admission, or $15 for students/groups. For reservations, (310) 315-1459, or to purchase tickets online, www.highwaysperformance.org.