Hisatoshi “Poppo” Shiraishi came to NYC by way of Tokyo, then London in 1978. Poppo and his girlfriend Tsuya had met at fashion school in Tokyo during the early 70’s. After graduating Poppo and Tsuya had traveled to London, being captivated by the punk scene there at the time. Poppy began studying Butoh, the avant-garde dance form, and after some to and further travelling, he and Tsuya moved to New York City, attracted to the vibrance and excitement of the downtown scene.
In New York, Poppo began performing his form of Butoh on the streets of the city, and soon began performing at many of the downtown Manhattan clubs: The Mudd Club, Pyramid and Danceteria, among others. His work was raw and mesmerizing and began attracting large audiences. By the early nineties Poppo had become a celebrity in the NYC East Village arts scene.
“Naked save for a loincloth, and spray-painted gold from head to toe, he danced sometimes with a burning dummy, amid fires he’d set on the sidewalk, or he surfed atop passing taxis, or he stood still for twenty minutes, barefoot, on a block of ice.” – Nick Paumgarten, The Wall Dancer, The New Yorker, January 2016
By the late 80’s Poppo founded a troupe, Poppo and the Go-Go Boys which performed at many downtown NYC theatres, La MaMa, The Kitchen and The Joyce. Poppy and his troupe, with as many as 20 dancers also toured internationally.
This clip documents Poppo performing at The Earshot festival in Newcastle, England in 1990 along with sound from Nocturnal Emissions, a sound art project founded in the late ’70s by Nigel Ayers along with collaborators Danny Ayers and Caroline K.
Poppy has retired from his Butoh practice and now coaches his daughter Ashima in her world-class rock climbing career.