Crazy Cloud

an inkBoat production
travels with 3 Dancers + 1 Technical Director | 60 minutes

“The simplicity and rigor of the tiny gestures appeared to come from somewhere outside time. The force with which they repeatedly fell or threw themselves to the floor looked propelled by more than earthly gravity.”
-Rita Felciano, Dance View Times

Available for touring in 2021.

About the Performance

Crazy Cloud expands fractional moments of time, allowing the space to develop a movement, scene or situation into a foreign world, rooted in the familiar. Distortion exists in the relentless way the dancers continue to live and thrive in a singular world. A bare stage, stark lighting and sand set the scene.

We took inspiration from Ikkyu (1394-1481), considered one of the most significant and eccentric figures in Zen Buddhism. The facts of his life have perhaps morphed into myth, but he remains a folk hero to many.

He is renowned and respected for his irreverent and straightforward insights into life and the human experience. Ikkyu’s life and work were filled with contradictions, shining examples of the paradox that is Zen. Master of poetry, calligraphy and music, as well as vagabond and patron of brothels and bars, he was immersed in both “high” and “low” culture. He was sharply critical of formalistic religion and the false piety he perceived in the Buddhism of his time, yet reached a position of high stature in Daitoku-ji, a prestigious temple in Kyoto. In this man, polarities collided – the refined and the crass, the frank and the esoteric. His name roughly translates into “One Pause,” signifying his moment of enlightenment that fell in the space between two crow calls. In contrast to this name, which conjures images of peace, is Ikkyu’s nickname, Crazy Cloud.

The Artistic Team

Crazy Cloud Artistic TeamDirectors/Choreographers
Crazy Cloud was originally choreographed by Shinichi Iova-Koga and Ko Murobushi (1947-2015). Ko, who was in his lifetime recognized in Japan as a leading inheritor of Hijikata’s original vision of Butoh, influenced the spare, “down to the bone” aesthetic of Crazy Cloud. Shinichi, whose performances reveal his own history with Butoh, brings a martial arts dynamic to the body, ready to wholeheartedly meet the ground in one moment and to build restraint in another.

Shinichi first met Ko in 1996 in Rome, Italy, where both were performing on a shared program. 11 years later, the book entitled “Crow with no Mouth” by 15th century monk Ikkyu Sojun became the glue that united these two artists.

Dancers Dana Iova-Koga, Sherwood Chen and Peiling Kao are integral to the creation of Crazy Cloud. The story of Ikkyu’s young lover, the blind musician Shinjo, became an entry point for Dana’s relationship with the poet monk, and offered the sensual feminine counterpoint and muse to Ikkyu’s masculine eroticism. Peiling Kao offers her own interpretation of what it means to exist without sight and in love. Sherwood’s subtly potent presence suggests a meditative quality, a calm constant.

The collection of musicians known as “Causing a Tiger” (Shahzad Ismaily, Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi) crafted the sound score. Working intimately together for years with inkBoat, this trio is known for creating textured dreamscapes, cobbled together from fractured memories and travelogues. Bossi describes the paradoxical experience of sculpting the sound for Crazy Cloud:

Recording the score for Crazy Cloud was like a waking dream in which a trusted ally tells you that everything is the right answer, but that the EVERYTHING must be distilled, essentialized. It represented the co-mingling of complete freedom, ultimate restraint, and unbridled bravery. A chance to record something so real, that you might smell it over the stereo. A chance to reveal something so honest and outside of yourself, that you might just die in the making of it.

Kihlstedt remembers this:

“More space,” Shinichi said, and then, again, “more space!” . . . until we were stretched and lengthened and until pulse and meter evaporated and we were left with just the bones of a sound. Breaking egg shells, the wind shield wipers of an old bus in a rain storm, snapping pencils and sticks, the in utero heartbeat of my daughter, a Transylvanian garden, crumpling paper, crows, bees, gongs . . . these are only a handful of things we experimented with in the process of making this score.

What is Butoh?
“Though Butoh Dance evades definition, it’s generally agreed that it originates in 1960’s Japan, that it’s connected to counter-cultural movements and that it’s currently part of an international investigation/exploration into what dance can be. It has a particular taste, contrasting with Western contemporary dance, though sometimes the manifestations parallel each other. Butoh Dance changes and in this way, lives.”  ~Shinichi

Video/Audio Links
2010 Research & Process by MANCC

Crazy Cloud  (2012 version, excerpt of show start)

Crazy Cloud  (2010 World Premiere version, condensed edit)

Audio discussion (once at the MANCC page, click the icon with the music symbol)

2008 process documentation

In Memory of Ko Murobushi (1947-2015)

Ko was one of the best known and most acclaimed Butoh artists in the world and was recognized in Japan as a leading inheritor of Tatsumi Hijikata’s original vision of Butoh.  He studied with Hijikata in 1968, briefly ‘giving up’ dance to become a “Yamabushi” mountain monk. Coming back into society, he founded the Butoh-Group Dairakudakan together with Ushio Amagatsu, Akaji Maro and others. He created the Butoh-magazine, Hageshii Kisetsu (Violent Season), and founded a female Butoh Company, ARIADONE, for which he choreographed a number of pieces. Two years later, he founded an all-male Butoh-group: SEBI.  He also created his unit Ko&Edge Co. with three young Japanese dancers, with whom he presented Handsome Blue Sky at the JADE 2003 Hijikata Memorial in Japan.

“Hurling and butting, Murobushi shatters the traditional Western dance aesthetics. In the process, he shatters into pieces himself. From the rubbish rises up his body like a plate of steel as if an ancient body in a catacomb starts to tremor.”

Tatsuro Ishi, Dance Critic

Article Link
“Gray Zones: Ko Muroboshi’s Hand in the Development of inkBoat’s Crazy Cloud” by Sherwood Chen, In Dance May 2010

“Have a good look–stop the breath, peel off the skin, and everybody ends up looking the same. No matter how long you live, the result is not altered. Cast off the notion that “I exist.” Entrust yourself to the windblown clouds, and do not wish to live forever.”

The presentation and tour of Crazy Cloud was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Additional tour funding comes from Performing Arts Japan, a program of Japan Foundation.

Crazy Cloud is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund/Forth Fund Project co-commissioned by Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica in partnership with San Francisco International Arts Festival and NPN.

The world premiere of Crazy Cloud  at San Francisco International Arts Festival 2010 was produced by inkBoat, the U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network, Inc. and the San Francisco International Arts Festival, developed through a residency at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at The Florida State University and has been funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project (NDP) with generous support by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation as well as National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, Bernard Osher Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Zellerbach Family Foundation, National Performance Network Creation Fund, and National Performance Network Forth Fund.

Social Media Links

Produced and Presented by: inkBoat, U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network and San Francisco International Arts Festival

Shinichi Iova-Koga
Ko Murobushi (1947-2015)

Performed by any 3 of these 4 dancers
Dana Iova-Koga
Shinichi Iova-Koga
Peiling Kao
Sherwood Chen

Carla Kihlstedt
Matthias Bossi
Shahzad Ismaily

Lighting/Technical Direction
Allen Willner

Frank Lee

Production Coordinator/Sound Operator
Gretchen Jude

Pak Han

Premiere May 27, 2010.

Crazy Cloud has been performed at these venues:

Crazy Cloud | NPN Conference at Painted Bride | Philadelphia | Dec 15, 2012

Crazy Cloud | SFIAF, Marines’ Memorial Theater | San Francisco | May 12, 2012

Crazy Cloud | Painted Bride | Philadelphia | May 5, 2012

Crazy Cloud | CAVE | New York | May 1, 2012

Crazy Cloud | Highways | Santa Monica | April 27, 28, 2012

Crazy Cloud | Arcata Playhouse | Arcata | April 19, 2012

Crazy Cloud (World Premiere) | Theater Artaud | San Francisco | May 27-30, 2010

Crazy Cloud (work in progress) | Noh Space | San Francisco | September 14, 2008