Nicole LeGette's angst-free butoh | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Nicole LeGette's angst-free butoh

The Blushing Poppy founder gets playful with Of Marrow, Moonlight & Mirth


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Inasmuch as butoh was born out of the devastation of post-World War II Japan, the work created by Nicole LeGette's ten-year-old butoh organization, Blushing Poppy, is surprisingly angst-free. Discussing the "fever dream" that yielded her new Of Marrow, Moonlight & Mirth, LeGette says, "This is me being the seven-year-old playing, only heightened." The 75-minute solo consists of three vignettes—one set in the realm of the everyday, another in dreams, and the third in the emotions—plus a reprise and coda. Master vocalist Louise Cloutier acts as an onstage "narrator" (LeGette's air quotes), delivering poetry by Katherine Kronis and Sally Cooper.

The aim of butoh, LeGette says, is to "affect the invisible space." But the stage itself also plays a crucial role in her work. To create a magical, immersive environment, LeGette fashions all her own set elements and costumes (she describes her sartorial taste as "a cross between the Peking Opera and Erté"). For Of Marrow, which is often suffused in semidarkness, she's using bare branches, dollar-store LED lights, waxed paper, and a shattered mirror to suggest fireflies and a starry night.

A brief excerpt from LeGette's Believe Your Beauty opens each evening. It's performed by the Empowered Fe Fes—a group of young women with disabilities—together with female Blushing Poppy performers.

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