Kyoto-based French photographer Stéphane Barbery has worked with a number of Noh actors in Kyoto over the past few years, and has developed a special eye for capturing meaningful moments in the performance. Photographers working with Noh have to endure the torment of being assigned a fix position from where they can only shoot using a powerful zoom, hence losing much of the tridimensionality that the Noh stage in particular is able to convey to its audience. Stéphane mostly works with B&W which allows him to sharpen details and recreate depth even in low light conditions. I am sure you will agree he has done a wonderful job.
I am reposting a couple of stills from Kiyotsune(both the performance and the dress rehearsal) but I invite you to visit his Flickr page to see more of his amazing work!
On Sunday 21st April I led a Noh theatre workshop for foreigners at the HUB Kyoto, Kyohakuin. It’s been a wonderful experience and a great chance to meet foreigners who share an interest in Noh and who are willing to try their best with Noh utai chant and shimai dance. Kyohakuin is an ex-school featuring a Noh stage which was not used for several decades. Recently the kagami-ita backdrop pine tree has been restored by Kim Hea-Kyoung and Ichimiya Keiko, and the participants of this workshop as well as myself had the privilege of dancing the shimaiOimatsu (‘Aged Pine’) in front of the renovated pine tree for the first time.
Teaching absolute beginners is a very instructing experience for the teacher, too. Teaching a full, albeit brief, dance to people who never even walked the suriashi sliding step is very challenging, yet I find fascinating how all participants identify dance elements differently and focus on various parts of the dance according to their own decoding tools and processes.
Photographer Stéphane Barbery joined us and took the awesome picture you see on this post. Stéphane has a long-term project on Japanese traditional arts, and has photographed a number of Noh professionals so far. You can check his work on his Flickr account here.
THANKS to Lucinda Cowing and Eri Suzuki of the HUB Kyoto for helping organise and promote the event: I very much enjoyed this workshop and I am looking forward to the next one!