Limen Theatre was founded by Sylwia Hanff in 2002, as a result of her 10 year theoretical and practical exploration of authentic body language and the essence of physical presence for a performer. Hanff's theoretical studies concerned Antonin’s Theatre of Cruelty philosophy, Artaud, theatrology (mainly theatre of form), anthropology of the body, dance and theatre, as well as other topics. Physical training included Western and Eastern body techniques: ballet, modern and contemporary dance, Hindu dance (bharatanatyam and manipuri), Aztec, African, dance improvisation and body symbolism, pantomime, choreography, nō theatre and martial arts. However, the essence of Henff's work was not to get a purely technical education, but to raise consciousness and get the ability to operate using different energies, overcome limiting technique, liberate the body and find the source of expression. Meditation practices, aimed at developing a specific type of concentration and careful consciousness of all processes taking part in body and mind, are also important parts of the training of Limen's founder.
The most important discovery in the course of her creative research was butoh as a dance, which rejects safety of techniques and transgresses the everyday body towards liminal experience; experience transcending the division between thought and feeling, body and mind, individual and collective, consciousness and subconsciousness. Butoh is a specific state of being – perfect presence, in which we tell the body to evoke the unknown, not bringing it to the known. As Hanff writes: “it is a dance coming into being from impulses arising inside butoh-tai (butoh-body): dead body, living body, body-memory, pushing a dancer and the audience into the dark zone, lying beneath the rational order of the world”.
Studying with masters such as Ko Murobushi, Carlotta Ikeda, Daisuke Yashimoto, Atsushi Takenouch, Tadashi Endo, Kan Katsura as well as Yuko Kawamoto, Yumiko Yoshioka, Fran Barbe allowed Hanff to learn the technique of butoh experts: Tatsumi Hijikata, Kazuo Ohno and methods developed by three generations of dancers. All these experiences influenced her individual artistic style. The landmark moment was her performance Empty Place or the Ocean’s Dreams.
"Butoh is like a virus spreading all over the World. It will become global. People in various countries will internalize it in their own bodies" (Akaji Maro). Limenbutoh (from limen – Latin “threshold”) it is a result of not only spreading the virus, but also searching for the European butoh-body, placed in other historical and cultural contexts.
The composition of the Limen Theatre is constantly changing. It is open for collaboration with artists from different fields – visual arts, music and theatre, allowing them to exchange creative energy and mutual inspiration. To date, the theatre has collaborated with performers including: Atsushi Takenouchi, Beata Ciecierska-Zajdel, Iwona Wojnicka, Justyna Jasłowska, Katarzyna Orowiecka, Tomasz Bazan; musicians: Robert Jędrzejewski (also video-art), Andrzej Turczynowicz, Elżbieta Piasecka, India Czajkowska; visual artists and photographers: Jenni Ramme, Zuzanna Szydłowska, Andrzej Turczynowicz and Janusz Matuszewski.
So far the group has produced seven performances, four short works and many improvisations. Lunatix featured Japanese butoh dancer Atsushi Takenouchi. In 2006 Limen Theatre took part in a joint project with Chorea Theatre Association – a performance Dance of the Forest (choreography by Kan Katsura).
The current Limen's projects are Ukiyo, exploring hokotai – step of Emptiness and floating world as a state of mind; and CZARNA LATIFA exploring Butoh as meditation dance and quality called by the artist “butoh of the other shore”. Performances which are the outcome of this work are Ukiyo – the floating world, Ukiyo-Teika, 8 Deserts, group performance SIMRAN and a solo performance ARYA (presented for the first time in October 2011).
An important part of Henff's work are solos – in particular due to a difference between solo, creating distilled, intimate situation between the dancer and the audience, and group butoh choreographies, perceived by the audience mainly as aesthetic pictures. In solo performances, intense presence and the process taking place in the performer's mind is transferred to the audience; it is more difficult to achieve this effect in group choreographies.
Limen took part in numerous international festivals, including FETA (Gdańsk), Street Art (Warsaw), Fortalicje – International Festival of Intuitive Arts (Zamość), Mandala Performance Festival (Wrocław), Maat Festival (Lublin), Gutek Film’s Japanese Night, Japanese Days, under the patronage of the Embassy of Japan in Międzyzdroje and in numerous centres in Poland (Stary Browar – Poznań, Centre for Culture in Lublin, Kalambur Theatre – Wrocław, Warsaw centres and others).
The group has been awarded several prizes in theatre and dance competitions.