Kazuo Ono (1906-2010) collaborated with Hijikata in the earliest days of butoh, before it even was butoh, and continued to work with Hijikata periodically until Hijikata's death, yet his art took a very different route. The heart of his work remains improvisation, striving to reveal the spontaneous life of the universe in every moment. Unlike most butoh artists, his work is full of emotion, yet still rooted in the vivid internal imagery that is the hallmark of the form. He is often described as the light that contrasts the darkness of Hijikata's Ankoko Butoh.
Ono stopped performing for many years, but returned to the stage in 1977 at the age of 71, inspired by a painting that reminded him of a glorious dancer he had seen as a youth. The performance that came out of this epiphany , "Admiring La Argentina," is among Ono's most famous.
Even into his late 90's, Ono remained a solo artist of unparalled expression and depth. He turned 101 in October of 2007, and though confined to a wheelchair now, his spirit is still strong and his hands still dance. Though he never directed his own company, he is renowned the world over as a teacher and through his classes and performances has profoundly influenced several generations of dancers.
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