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Millennium Walk - January
January - Radcliffe Camera

Millennium Walk - August
August - Botanic Garden

Millennium Walk - September
September - Christchurch Meadows

Millennium Walk - December
December - Ship Street


On the first day of the new millennium, Café Reason put on black suits and took a 'butoh walk' into the centre of Oxford. This became the first in a series of monthly street improvisations to mark the millennium. It brought butoh to an unsuspecting public, provoking a range of reactions from surprise and bemusement to confusion and hostility, and sometimes even a desire to join in.

It saw us: riding buses, queuing, hanging off railings, knocking on doors, standing still in bustling streets, walking slowly, racing in circles, crawling, balancing, jumping in puddles, stopping traffic, and adorning and highlighting numerous historic Oxford buildings and sites.

Over the course of the seasons our costumes changed: a snowdrop for February, daffodils in March, spring posies for April, giant roses in June. In August we wore the bright orange of goldfish and lily flowers for our first performance at the Botanic Garden. As the year turned, there were dark, transparent plastic macs for a wet September, knitted ochres, oranges, and browns for October, eyeless balaclavas for November, and mysterious papier-mâché masks for the last day of the year - when it seemed we performed for an empty city.

Each walk was a response to the environment and to the moment and depended on a high level of group awareness and commitment. While the first few walks were strongly structured and quite formal, as the year progressed and the group's confidence and experience grew, the performances became freer. Although initiated and led by Ana as training through performance, the concept of the walks and the strength of the group meant that the project continued and developed after Ana left for Indonesia. The Millennium Walks expressed Café Reason's commitment to accessible (if sometimes baffling), non-theatre performance - (our 'guerrilla butoh'), and the belief that butoh makes visible the details of not only the dancing body but also the space around it; giving the opportunity to performers and audience to see and experience the everyday and familiar with fresh eyes and beings.

Ana Barbour