October 20, 2015 – OTTAWA (Canada) – The renowned Japanese dance company Sankai Juku will bring an exquisite Butoh performance to the National Arts Centre with its latest creation, UMUSUNA - Memories before History, on November 3 in the Southam Hall. An old Japanese word meaning “the place where humans connect with nature”, UMUSUNA explores the notion of opposites that complete each other. It refers to the ephemeral existence of human beings and the eternal universe in which they live. Ushio Amagatsu, choreographer, dancer, artistic director and founder of Sankai Juku, engages himself and eight other dancers in a meaningful dialogue with nature, shaped by a very subtle but complex choreography.

Known for his strong ability to communicate his ideas through imagery, Ushio Amagatsu has separated the stage in half, playing on the human body’s duality; two hands, two feet, two sides that become one. Amagatsu creates a visual illusion of time passing as a constant stream of sand falls to the ground and envelops the dancers, symbolizing life as a vertical line.

Starting from a standpoint that a stage is independent from what lies in nature, Amagatsu’s use of lighting and sound also becomes very important to the symbolic component of the show. The four elements, earth, air, fire and water, are strategically represented by bright colored lights throughout the performance.

As part of Sankai Juku’s 2015 North American tour, UMUSUNA - Memories before History will be presented exclusively in Canada at the National Arts Centre in the Southam Hall on Tuesday November 3, 2015, at 8 p.m.. 

“...a beautifully surreal performance experience … a must see.” – Katie Colombus,


SANKAI JUKU is a Butoh dance company founded by Ushio Amagatsu in 1975. The company has premiered a new piece approximately once every two years at Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, a centre for contemporary dance, which has commissioned the company continuously for 35 years.

Ushio Amagatsu, trained in both classical and modern dance before he became immersed in Butoh. For Amagatsu, Butoh expresses the language of the body. In the 1970s, Amagatsu drew mostly on his own individual experience for inspiration. During the 1980s he spent most of his time working in Europe and the inspiration for his work became more universal, presenting an abstract vision of the infinite and explores evolutionary movement. Major themes that he examines are the relationship of the body to gravity and the relationship between gravity, the earth and the environment.

In 1980, Sankai Juku was invited to perform in Europe for the first time. The company went to the Nancy International Festival in France with the firm conviction that Butoh would be accepted. This engagement marked a major turning point and made a name for both Sankai Juku and the term Butoh throughout Europe. The company has toured internationally since 1980 and performed in over 700 cities in 45 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. They have been highly praised in different cultures for over 35 years which is a testament to the universal nature of Sankai Juku’s work. While crossing over geographic boarders and appealing to diverse audiences, the company has been developing the themes of their work while searching for and moving towards new realms. Sankai Juku received the Japan Foundation Award in 2013.

For more information:

UMUSUNA - Memories before History (2012)


MUSIC: Takashi Kako, Yas-Kas, Yoichiro Yoshikawa

SOUND: Akira Aikawa, Junko Miyazaki

COSTUMES: Masayo Iizuka


The presentation of UMUSUNA is supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program. For the 2015 North American tour, Sankai Juku is supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan, Shiseido Co., Ltd, and Toyota Motor Corporation.


Sankai Juku performs in the Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre on Tuesday November 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $41 $53, $66, and $76 for adults and $22.50, $28.50, $35, and $40 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card).

Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices; to reserve your seats, call 613 947-7000 x634 or e-mail

Tickets are available for purchase:

  • • In person at the NAC Box Office;
  • • At all Ticketmaster outlets;
  • • By telephone from Ticketmaster, 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS); and
  • • Online through the Ticketmaster link on the NAC’s website (
  • A service charge applies on all purchases made through Ticketmaster.

Join our email list for the latest updates!