It’s All About Butoh

I first stumbled across Butoh at the Edinburgh Festival seven years ago. A show called Zeitgiest by Brisbane-based Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre was receiving rave reviews, and although it didn’t sound like something I’d normally choose to see, I put my faith in the critics. And, boy, am I glad I did. My friend and I left the theatre in stunned silence: Did that just happen? What just happened? Can we go back and see it again, please? Just a few of the questions whizzing around our seisimically-stimulated neurons.

Butoh is an avant garde Japanese performance art founded by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in the early 1960s in rejection of western dance and rigid Japanese dance traditions. Over the years Butoh has drawn on and fused together elements of different historical periods and influences, including expressionism, the rebellion of the 1960s, surrealism, Flamenco and mime. The result is a kind of ritualistic, primal earth-dance where the internal is externalised and the external internalised by the performer. Butoh’s unconscious improvised movements, which rely on strength, flexibility and balance, allow the body to move authentically, free of social constraints. In Butoh it is often said that ‘the dancer should not dance, but be danced’.

” Butoh is a hybrid form of art, incorporating elements of theatre, dance, mime, Noh, Kabuki and at times the Chinese arts of Chi kung and Tai chi. It is up to the individual artist to find their own dance. But it should be a “dance” of discovery, rather than a calculated series of movements meant to manipulate the audience into a desired response.” – Don McLeod

Today Butoh is an ever-developing art form which is practiced and performed across the globe.

Zen Zen Zo’s Zeitgeist is an example of Butoh at its most raw, erotic and nightmarish. Think Dali meets David Lynch with a side order of Tarantino. The show, directed by Lynne Bradley, perfectly embodied the philosophy of Butoh dance to its core: naked bodies painted white, writhing, stretching, contracting and contorting: from their eyelids to their little toes it seemed every part of each performer’s anatomy was involved in this wild, visceral fantasy. At one point they cracked raw eggs into their mouths and spewed yolk up over each other and the front row of audience. It sounds grotesque. It was. But in no way was it gratuitous – in a strange way, it was beautiful.


I got back from Edinburgh, wanting to know more about this fascinating dance form. I Googled Butoh and discovered there was a Butoh workshop taking place in Brighton the following month. That’s one of the things I love about this city: you name it, there’s a workshop for it. And more often that not, it’s here at Evolution Arts, winky face. On this occasion, however, the workshop was run by Butoh Brighton. 

Eight years on, Yael Karavan, an award winning performer, dancer and director, and one of the three founding members of Butoh Brighton, came to Evolution Arts to deliver her Butoh Dance Workshop, and I was lucky enough to be among its participants.

Israeli born Yael has trained with several Butoh Masters including Kazuo Ohno and Tadashi Endo and her passion for this dance tradition was evident from the off.

Over the course of the two days Yael took us through a series of exercises that allowed us to discover and experiment with the basic elements of Butoh. The power and intensity of Butoh became clear early on, and proved both physically and emotionally challenging, especially for those in the group with no previous dance experience. But this didn’t stop any of us from taking part and exploring the art form in the safe, encouraging and fun space Yael had created.

At times, we were separate entities growing from inside each individual cell of our body, at others we were working in pairs, responding intuitively to our partners movements and creating a spontaneous conversation with our bodies. At times, we became one large connected being, changing form and shape like the starlings over Brighton Pier.

In the very last exercise Yael put little white paper hats on our heads and transformed us into Warriors of Peace. We walked up and down the studio in the slow crouched Butoh walk – our synchronised bodies pulled along by an invisible external and internal force -, an exhausted but joyful united front calling for: ‘Peace, Health, Love, Kindness, Empathy and Justice.’ A perfect end to a unifying and powerful workshop. And, not an eggy face in sight.

Another dance workshop, CREATIVE LAND, is happening at Evolution Arts on 25 & 26 March. Run by Marcos Rangel and Rodrigo Carinhana (pictured above), this workshop welcomes any adventurous spirit, be they performer, actor, dancer or anyone in the mood for discovery. The work will focus on the quest that nourishes us, and its motivation. Using elements of Afro-Brazilian tradition (songs, rhythms and dances – see below), you’ll be encouraged to open your imagination and discover true – rather than mechanical – action and seek creative answers to the deepest demands of our being. On the way, you will discover how to listen, stay aware, react, imagine, and be entirely present in yourself. Physical training, awareness of the space, voice work and song will help create a structure of individual and collective action – a Creative Land. Book your place here.

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Time to Take a Stand – UP!



Whoever said laughter is the best medicine wasn’t far wrong – although they obviously hadn’t tried Valium.

The physical, psychological and social effects of humour and laughter are as bountiful as Donald Trump’s frontal hair shelf. Studies show that humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. In fact a good old belly laugh can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

Making people laugh is therefore giving them a unique gift. And the amazing thing about laughter is that it’s free – unless of course you’re lucky enough to be at one of Brighton & Hove’s many brilliant comedy nights, in which case it can cost you anything from £3 – £30, depending on the experience of the comedians.

If you’ve longed to have your entourage in stitches, but can only ever seem to muster a joke from last year’s Christmas cracker, then help is at the end of your funny bone.
Louise Stevenson

This October, Brighton Comedy Course is teaming up with Evolution Arts to offer a 6-week beginners course in the art of stand-up. Run by Louise Stevenson (pictured above) a Scottish stand-up who started her comedy career in 1999 on the New Zealand circuit, Brighton Comedy Course is for anyone who wants to:

  • Improve Confidence
  • Enhance public speaking ability
  • Increase presentation skills
  • Write and edit comedy

And who knows, you could go on to be the next stand-up sensation like several previous graduates, including the hilarious Phil Jerrod.The world is your Apollo!

comedy course

Brighton Comedy Course Graduates

I met up with Louise after Brighton Comedy Course’s most recent graduate gig at The Verdict in Kemp Town to ask her a few questions about life in the laughter lane:

Q. What made you get into comedy?

A: Honestly, I love making people laugh and thought I could. I had just moved to Wellington, NZ and I shared my aspirations with the first woman comic I saw performing and she just happened to have space on her comedy course which started the next day, fate maybe.

Q. What are the highs and lows of being a stand-up comedian?

Highs are coming off a stage with a big audience who’ve really enjoyed you. Lows are the travelling from town to town staying in places on your own (there’s a lot of cinema!), And the combination of a high and low is where a woman comes up and says “ My boyfriend totally laughed his arse off and he never thinks women are funny!”

Q. Who is your favourite comedian and why?
Kevin Bridges, because he’s hilarious and talks about a lot of things that I can relate to coming from Glasgow.

Q. How has being a comedian changed you?
Now there’s a question, well it’s given me much more confidence over the years, it also gives you the balls to share something you thinks funny without worrying what the response will be. Who cares-you won’t know its funny till you put it out there.

Q. What are 3 main things you hope people will get from your course?
Confidence, the ability to perform a tight set, and a love of comedy.

Q. TEll us a joke.!
Southern Rail-need I expand?

Give yourself and others the gift of laughter today by booking a place on the Brighton Comedy Course at Evolution Arts here.
Comedian & Brighton Comedy Course Graduate Phil Jerrod

Jerrod informs us, deadpan, that he’s the most boring man he knows, then riffs off into a fantastic set of perfectly delivered, perfectly timed and perfectly glorious comedy.” BROADWAY BABY

Certainly one to keep an eye on. His tortured ramblings about being white and middle-class run on like the nightmare I imagine it isn’t and made me genuinely laugh out loud” – The Brighton Argus


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Salvage Cafe – art, coffee and comedy on tap!

Brighton’s creative folk love an independent café where they can relax and wile away the hours deep in artistic thought or conversation, one hand on their laptop, the other on their Mochaccino. Café Salvage on Western Road is a Mecca for such sorts, attracting a mixture of writers, designers, artists, performers, filmmakers and general café-goers through its doors every day.

Salvage’s owner Tazz, a former fine art student from Nottingham with a passion for good coffee and fine teas, rebranded and opened Salvage Café in April 2015. Tazz says:

“I opened Salvage because It had always been a personal dream of mine to run my own coffee shop and I felt Brunswick town didn’t have a community cafe where locals could come and have delicious affordable food and drink.”

But Salvage isn’t just an independent café with vintage furniture, ambient lighting and a great play-list. Everything in the café including the upcycled tables, huge railway mirror, pharmacy pigeon holes, postbox and traffic light is for sale. Tazz says:

 “I loved the idea of a shop where if you like the chair you are sitting on, you can take it home!”

At the moment that might be the vintage cinema chairs or a 1940’s recliner.

Passionate about art and photography, Tazz recently introduced a programme of arts event at Salvage including a monthly poetry evening, a fortnightly acoustic music event and a bi-monthly comedy night. In fact, Evolution’s own Sarah Charsley and newcomer to the Brighton comedy circuit will be performing her latest standup routine there on Friday 5th February. Sarah says:

“Salvage café is a great place for a cool and kooky comedy night such as Comestible Comedy. For £10 you get a tasty Indian veggie meal and laughter on tap. And if you fancy it, you can even go home with a traffic light.”

If you’re in the mood for a giggle and fancy writing your own comedy or even taking your first step into standup, Evolution Arts is launching its brand new Comedy Writing Taster, a VIP tour through top tips to tickle, led by BBC Comedy Producer & Director Diane Messias. Also guaranteed to put a grin on your face is Mahasukha’s celebrated Soulful Singing, an ode to joyful living if ever there was one.

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What do, Joan of Arc, Wes Anderson, Clowns and Lepidoptery (the study of moths) have in common? The answer is they have all been themes of The Drawing Circus  life drawing events.

The Drawing Circus is a troupe of Brighton-based artists, models, art tutors, musicians and performers who seek to promote a sense of wonder at the visual world through innovative drawing events

drawing circus photo 2

Drawing Circus events aren’t your average structured life drawing classes. Far from it. These events, which are rarely tutored, straddle the boundary between workshop and performance and aim to leave all participants feeling inspired and informed. Most events are held in collaboration with innovative Brighton venues such as the Old Market and The Spiegeltent, with each event based around a different theme. Members of the collective make the costumes for the models to pose in and musical entertainment is provided by the Drawchestra, a collective of musically inclined life models who perform at Drawing Circus events. Drawchestra members add musical flourishes to poses and guest musicians are often invited to play alongside them.


Evolution’s Carole Gledhill has first hand experience of The Drawing Circus, both as model and artist. A former art student, Carole got into the Brighton life drawing scene four years ago when she started tutoring for a company that run life drawing hen parties. Carole says:

“I love life drawing, it’s like meditating, you have to be so focused and you leave feeling relaxed and challenged.”

Carole last modeled at a special Drawing Circus event at the Booth Museum in November last year, dressed as a lion (see drawing below by Geo Parkin, with other model Naomi Wood). Here, she posed alongside several other costumed models including a monkey-mermaid and a bat .



“The loveliest thing about the themed events is the amazing costumes you get to wear and the social aspect. Also, it’s a novelty to pose alongside other models. As an artist I enjoy going to events at the Old Market as they’re the only times I get to have a G&T whilst I draw – I think it actually helps my drawing!”


The Drawing Circus is the brainchild of Jake Spicer. Jake is head tutor of Draw who run drawing events all over the South East. In 2009 Jake started a tiny, 6 person life drawing class in the corner of his studio hoping to meet other people in Brighton who were keen on drawing. Both models and sketchers in the class had all of these wonderful ideas for unusual life draiwng sessions, so when he was asked to put on themed event for White Night 2009 he gathered a crew around and put on an amazing tarot themed life draiwng all-nighter which attracted 750 people who turned up to draw. Jake says:

“The classes expanded and we ran more and more events and eventually we split The Brighton Life Drawing Sessions into Draw and The Drawing Circus, with the Drawing Circus run more democratically by Emma, Francesca and myself with ideas for all our sessions coming from members of the troupe. It is a privilege to be working alongside such a passionate and creative crew of artists, models and musicians.”

Brighton Life Drawing Sessions form the core of Draw’s adult education program. Most sessions take place at New England House and include Mixed Pose, Short Poses Long Pose and Themed Pose sessions. The latest themed pose was David Bowie.

The Draiwng Circus is a non-profit making organisation. The sessions are open to all abilities and they especially encourage complete begginers to come give life drawing a go. The next Drawing Circus will be held at the Old Market Bar on 16 February and will be on the theme of Star Wars. All jedi, droids, ewoks, Tusken raiders, wookiees welcome.

If you are interested in other drawing practices,  Evolution Arts run a range of art courses and workshops for all levels.

May the drawing force be with you!

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Brighton Street Art – make your mark through art

Brighton and street art go together like Essex and spray tans. Here at Evolution Arts we heart street art not simply because it adds vibrancy and intrigue to the urban landscape, but because it champions the idea that anybody can make art, whilst making art accessible to all.

Street art and graffiti as we know it today first emerged in the 1970s in the guise of tagging – distinct signatures used by kids in the Bronx for marking territory. Since then it has become a popular international art form and artists such as Banksy have become household names, with kids today more likely to recognize a Bansky than a Bacon or a Botticelli.

Graffiti is a legitimate and treasured part of the Brighton experience and over the years a dazzling array of styles and talents has adorned our city’s walls. As well as showcasing its own famous painters such as Aroe, Gary and Roid, Brighton has attracted graffiti crews and artists from across the globe.

One artist who has contributed to Brighton’s technicolour concrete canvas is Andy Hutch. Brighton-based Hutch has been throwing up his art on walls around Brighton and London since around 2000. Hutch says:

“I was always into the sticker culture, which grew out of the skateboard scene, that’s how I started on the street around 2000. This progressed into larger pasted up posters and with the street art scene growing around that time a lot of likeminded people got together through the Internet sharing details and photos leading to group shows, live painting and a lot of illegal fun.”

Jewel Runner

Nowadays Hutch is more likely to be found working from his studio, producing prints for galleries and commissions for private clients as well as selling art through his website

“I don’t have any art remaining on walls in Brighton. Apart from most derelict areas being done up or knocked down there’s not many places left to do it. I’m happy enough producing work from my studio for now, but I’ll hit the streets now and then when the mood takes me.”

Hutch prefers figurative art due to the curves and contours being more fun to draw and hand cut. His medium of choice nowadays is rubylith acetate film, which, once an image is cut, can be underlayered with a print or other details on Perspex or paper giving depth.

Following a working-morning spent doodling to get his brain juices flowing, Hutch sketches from photos and memory, then scans all the bits into the computer before cutting and pasting them together.


“Art has sometimes driven me mad and sometimes saved the day. I rest easy when I have at least 3 projects going on at the same time, then, satisfied when completed, I suddenly think what next?! I can never sit idle for long as I’ll always turn to my notebook or sketchbook to jot down ideas. This keeps me motivated and if the ideas aren’t coming I’ll listen to music, read artist interviews watch movies. I’ll go back to my sketchbooks and find an idea in something I never thought about before. I always make a note in ink of every creative thought.”

Hutch image 3

Hutch has just this minute completed a print edition commissioned by Brighton gallery Art Republic called Internal Piece which is screen printed, hand painted gold with green spray paint finish.

Internal Piece


You can learn more about Brighton’s graffiti history by joining a Brighton Graffiti Tour.

If you’re not ready to make your mark on the streets, at Evolution Arts we offer a range of Art Courses where you can express yourself and practice drawing and painting in a fun and safe environment.

Feeling inspired? At Evolution Arts  we offer several courses and workshops focusing on arts and crafts, the body and mind, writing, acting, photography, dance and music. Find a new challenge, discover a new passion and become part of the Evolution community. Call the centre on 01273 204204 or click here for more information and to book.


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