DAIPAN Members

Sheri Brown | Helen Thorsen | Joan Laage | Diana Garcia-Snyder | Kaoru Okumura | Lela Besom | Erica Akiko Howard | Shoko Zama

Sheri Brown

Artistic/Programs Director

DAIPANmember_SheriSheri Brown has served as Artistic/Programs Director of DAIPANbutoh Collective since its inception in 2009. Her dance practice arises from a cross-pollination of deep spiritual exploration, her experience as a mathematics teacher, and her study with butoh masters Diego Pinon, Katsura Kan, and Joan Laage. Sheri has performed internationally in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Sweden, Greece, Mexico, and Argentina. Her choreographic work, such as Divided by Zero has been performed at the Seattle International Dance Festival, Clackamus College, Velocity Dance Center, and Seattle Center. Sheri considers her work as a butoh teaching artist inseparable from her work as an unfolding human being. www.sheribrown.com.

Helen Thorsen

Managing Director/Treasurer

DAIPANmember_HelenHelen is native of Chicago, graduated Columbia College with an emphasis in Dance Therapy and choreography. She was a founding member of The Yuni Hoffman Dance Theatre in Chicago, a Graham based modern dance company. She discovered Butoh dance in 1980 through the dances and workshops of Eiko and Koma. Thorsen was a founding member of Joan Laage’s Dappin Butoh, and her choreography has been seen in various venues through out Seattle. www.helenthorsendances.com

Joan Laage

Production Manager/Marketing Coordinator
Member Portrait

Joan is known as a NW butoh pioneer. After studying with masters Kazuo Ohno and Yoko Ashikawa in Tokyo in the late 80s and performing with Ashikawa’s group Gnome, she settled in Seattle and founded Dappin’ Butoh in 1990. While living in Poland she took the performance name of Kogut (rooster). In May 2011, she was featured at the butoh symposium at UCLA. Joan performed at the New York, Chicago, Portland, Boulder, Seattle and Paris butoh festivals. With a Ph.D. in Dance & Related Arts (Texas Woman’s University, 1993), her dissertation focuses on the body in butoh. Joan is featured in Sondra Fraleigh’s books – Dancing into Darkness: Butoh, Zen, and Japan and Butoh: Metamorphic Dance and Global Alchemy. She frequently creates site-specific work for the Seattle Japanese Garden where she is a docent. The year of 2013 includes a 4Culture Historical Site-Specific event, The Engendering Project supported in part by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, and teaching a butoh course at Cornish College. www.seattlebutoh-laage.com

photo by Kaoru Okumura

Diana Garcia-Snyder, MFA

Graphic Designer/Fundraising Coordinator

DianaDiana is currently dance lecturer at the University of Washington in Bothell. She encountered butoh through Maureen Fleming’s performance in 2003 after more than two decades of international professional ballet and modern dance professional career. This same year she began her training with master teacher Diego Piñon who became her mentor and good friend. Diana is originally from Mexico and holds a Masters in Dance Pedagogy, research and choreography from the University of Washington in Seattle. She currently performs and teaches a hybrid butoh inspired movement strongly influenced by Butoh Ritual Mexicano and since 2007 she has been deeply interested in multimedia-butoh-inspired interactive installations collaborating with international Korean media Artist  Eunsu Kang. She is also a yoga teacher and certified Pilates instructor. http://www.motion33.com/

Kaoru Okumura

Technical/Cultural Communications Coordinator

20151015TSI - SQ120Kaoru Okumura is a Japanese Butoh performer based in Seattle, US. A fan of Butoh since the 1970s, Kaoru studied Butoh in 1993 at Asbestos-Kan in Tokyo with Akiko Motofuji, the wife of one Butoh’s originators, Tatsumi Hijikata. This is where Kaoru first performed. She started Butoh activities in Seattle in 2008. Since then, she has enjoyed performing with Danse Perdue, KOGUT Butoh, and others, where she experiences how a body bridges the soul and the world. Recently she is focusing on solo work, periodically premiering new pieces at various venues. Kaoru had more than 20 performances in 2016, including Seattle International Dance Festival, and 9E2 Seattle in collaboration with Google Deep Dream, which was also supported by Google AMI (Artists & Machine Intelligence).  www.kaoruokumura.com

Lela Besom


Lela BesomLela Besom is a multidisciplinary artist from Arkansas. She began practicing and performing butoh in Seattle in 2013 and studies regularly with DAIPAN teachers. She has also studied with Vangeline France, Diego Piñon, Yuko Kaseki, Ari Rudenko, and Natsu Nakajima. Lela created Virtual Butoh Theatre and collaborates with Sheri Brown and Marina Sossi on Trio De Femmes. She is interested in pre-cultured bodies, social issues, beauty, and experiences that shift individual and collective consciousness. (Photo by Bruce Clayton Tom.) www.lelabesom.com

Erica Akiko Howard

Grant Writing Lead/Web and Social Media Support/Editor

Erica Akiko HowardErica Akiko Howard is a dance artist with training in butoh, modern and contemporary dance, ballet, and some traditional dances. She first performed butoh-inspired work over a decade ago in Madison, WI, but began studying seriously in Seattle in 2013. She engages with butoh as a performance modality, as a somatic and contemplative practice, and as a vehicle for exploring her mixed Japanese and American heritage. She is an artist-in-residence at Studio Current. Her current work explores the nexus of Earth/Body/Home. (Photo by Madeline Ostrander.)

Shoko Zama


Shoko ZamaShoko Zama is a Japanese visual artist and an instructor of Taijiquan and Qigong who has co-directed the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle for 27 years. She debuted as a butoh performer in 2013 with a solo piece, “Prayer, playER.” Since then, she has studied and collaborated with Joan Laage, appeared with Kogut Butoh, and studied with Mushimaru Fujieda in Japan. She feels butoh is deeply connected with her roots. (Photo by Kaoru Share.)



  • Mary Cutrera
  • Neal Fadlan
  • Gerard Erikson
  • Tom Belic

Special thanks to our amazing photographers:
Briana Jones and Kaoru Okumura