Superimposing behavioral ages-of-man images onto cycles of nature, Min Tanaka's "Seasons" solo defined inner and outer landscapes with the unsparing intensity that has always characterized the contemporary Japanese butoh idiom.
Periodically retreating into the corner of the performance area at La Boca (Sunshine Mission/Casa de Rosas) on Friday, Tanaka pushed and twisted against the walls, intently absorbed in the possible relationships between their unyielding surfaces and his body.
From these confrontations with environmental reality, he emerged with a new set of movement capabilities and limitations: sometimes swirling youthfully through light-footed dancelike passages, in other sections hobbling and lurching sightlessly, his face a grotesque mask of pain.
A cruel vision dominated the early portions of the work, with Tanaka depicting powerful bursts of energy inside a broken body or someone at the mercy of pitiless natural forces. Hurling water around the room, on himself and onto some of the audience members seated on two sides of the performing area, he created a sodden, slippery storm-center which, again, he explored through touch: stretching out on the wet floor, curling up on it, sliding across it.
Complementing this remarkably tactile view of his theme: bold contrasts in accompaniment (flamenco, tango, rumbling thunder, silence). At 50, Tanaka no longer conveyed the overwhelming ferocity that marked his last local appearance at LACE nearly 20 years ago. But as "Seasons" brightened toward the end, Tanaka's progressive accommodation to nature--and his connection to it through the senses--suggested that even the dark, irrational world of butoh has room for hope.