Kaihogyo

The kaihogyo ("circling the mountain") is a practice of "extreme self-denial" performed by Tendai Buddhist monks, in which they walk a route on Mount Hiei over either 100 days or 1000 days. The monks are able to withdraw from the journey at any point during the first 100 days, but if they decide to give up after those 100 days in pursuit of the full 1000-day route, they must take their own life. Only 46 monks have ever completed the 1000-day journey. Mount Hiei is littered with the unmarked graves of those monks who failed.

 

This work draws a parallel between the quest of kaihogyo and the pursuit of lifelong contentment amidst various trials and tribulations. The dancers will be following their respective distances traveled over the course of the piece using an activity tracking device, and will use these real-time measurements as cues between different sections and material. At least one dancer will be running at all points throughout, as if the four dancers are taking part in a kinetic, fully exhaustive relay race that periodically exchanges four compartments of the same mind.

 

The piece ends with one dancer remaining; this "champion” dancer will be selected blindly before each performance, so that each dancer only knows if they are or are not the chosen one, but does not know the role of any other player until the very end. In a way, they don't know the fate of the group any more than the audience does. The nature and chemistry of the work will vary each night the piece is shown, the elements at play never yielding the same result.

Video by Jake Kruty