In memory of a companion and wonderful artists - Ko Murobushi

Kajo Nelles

On June 19, 2015, the world's highly respected and revered Japanese Butoh artist Ko Murobushi past away at the age of 68 years. Ko Murobushi was very blessed: He was artistically active until his decease. He left this world full of inner inspiration and creative energy.

Personally, I met Ko Murobushi in the year 1988. In the late eighties to mid nineties James Saunders and I invited him regularly to our summer and winter festivals in the Dance Projects Cologne. There he taught with enthusiasm “choreographic butoh studies” with amateur students. On our stage he showed, among other works the duet “Out of ephemeral” (1989) with Urara Kusangi, “EN 89” (Solo 1989) and here he also brought the unforgettable solo “White Presence” for Urara Kusangi (10.7.1993) to Premiere.

I had the pleasure and honor to meet Ko in recent years again at the Yokohama Dance Collection and we revived our relation. I was very happy to hear and witness that he after all these years of success in Europe and in many counties around the world, he earned a lot of respect and appreciation from old and young in his native county. I could see that he enjoyed this reunion!

At the award ceremony Yokohama Dance Collection 2012 Ko Murobushi held a short speech in which he explained his views to the dance and the life. For me he expressed in this speech the essence of this view on art and life:

The happiness of presenting a prize is filling my heart especially when I recall the surprise in Ms. Suzuki's face shining with a heart-warming smile. When joy is topped with surprise the way I happened to have experienced at this presentation, I feel deeply moved.

I doubt whether I am a qualified person to present a prize, but since I was selected as one of the judges I feel extremely happy that I was allowed to witness this touching scene.

We all who have been watching the joy in the faces of the prizewinners are filled with some kind of surprise. It is my understanding that “dance” is nothing but a task or an art that pursues such a surprise. I believe that every day life is a kind of experiment. The reason of this perception is my conviction that “to live” means moving toward an unknown future. As for dance this is being lived with our own bodies and at the same time given shape, which makes dance a very challenging task. To succeed I advise that you never loose the feeling of surprise.

It was written that the Akutagawa-prize for novels is an incident. I consider that prize giving is a festival, an experiment that leads into an unknown direction and allows leaving footprints into a virgin future.

At this moment there is no final conclusion.

Of course I expect those who received a prize to strive for perfection. But I also hope that all the others who failed this time will not give up, but rather live the experiment of life day after day.

Ko Murobushi


“toward <outside>! toward <transit>!”