body telling lab

Belgrade February 2018
At the age of 35 after finishing university education Adrien Gaumé decided that writing reviews of cultural events for the local newspaper was not his destiny. Living in Tours, France his girlfriend took him to butoh dance lessons that changed his life. He became fascinated by this form of body awareness and made the choice to step into a different way of living following his passion.

I meet him in Belgrade where he leads his body telling lab at Stanica Dance (dance station) in a building in the Savamala district. I notice his soft and tranquile presence from the first moment. His life is that of a traveling dance master, though he prefers to be seen as the facilitator for body awareness and self development. He speaks thoughtful and carefully weighs his opinions so as to be precise and avoids to be harsh. The world is painted in grey tones for Adrian.

Adrian Gaumee

The dance form butoh originated in Japan after the second world war as a protest against conventional dance. As many protest avant garde movements butoh developed rules and fixed methods where originally exactly the absence of rules was a key element.

It was surprising for Adrian to see how a dance form that represents freedom, became so restricting for those who practice it. He blames it on human nature that seems to generate rules and customs in order to remain systematic. It is a process can be seen too in religion or ideologies.

After his first introduction into butoh he also noticed that specific methods used by teachers can lead to arcticulations (dance movements) that can be alien to the performer. For instance the body of a Japanese person differs in build from a European. Articulations are part of the body and can therefore differ, must differ as a matter of fact depending on the performer.

He noticed that the human mind seems to look for certainties by adhering to dogma’s and fixed ideas. Some butoh masters in Japan do actually recognize this process and proclaim themselves that what they teach today can be different tomorrow. In a way self development neccesitates  throwing away the ladder that brought you somewhere to be able to progress further.

These new insights led him to yet another turn in his life. He left butoh and after training by several teachers he went his own way, combining other elements (including button) into his own approach. He was frowned upon by others not following one teacher or immersing himself in pure bhuto as is customary practice.

Later during his development he learned that another useful element is to share (verbally) the experiences of those who take part in his sessions. The sharing process results in a “collective smartness” that can only be achieved by a group and transcends individual capabilities.

Adrian Gaumee at work

Now his teaching includes many elements of body awareness methods even to the extend of using some techniques of Feldenkreis, a physical development method with roots very different from Japan. When asked about yoga he says: it should be forbidden. It gives no place for the own identity of the performer.

As a result of his search Adrien now gives classes on many international locations. He is a traveling dance master. But he has some preferences in geografical location:

“the further East I come in Europe the more interesting it becomes”.

The spirit of the sixties and seventies seems lost in western Europe:

“we have all the answers but have forgotten the questions”.

Especially in the former communist countries questions are still asked and people are searching, all in their own way. These countries provide Adrian with an inspiring environment. I recognize this and share his view.

His choices affected his personal life too as his girlfriend actually encouraged him to travel and find new inspiration though this cost them their relationship. To conclude Adrian confides: In a way I am in a way trapped into this lifestyle, I landed into it an we will see where it leads me.

Stanice dance
Stanice Dance Belgrade Foto courtecy Lina Smit

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