For the Curious: More about Butoh

Koichi and Hiroko Tamano, SSII: Post Butoh Fest
Koichi and Hiroko Tamano

Doing some research in preparation for SSII: Post Butoh Festival coming up, I came across this very concise list of essential concepts in Butoh. I tend to use these concepts in my own teaching, and so I am contacting Florencia Guerberof, who compiled the list. She is carrying out an ongoing investigation on Butoh movement, and I am curious as to how it is going. She shares these Essential Concepts simply: 

The empty body does not move intentionally. It is rather moved by something. The body is a blank canvas subject to infinite transformations. The body is a black charcoal absorbing the light. “What is expressed should not be something that a dancer tries to display. A dancer should concentrate on absorbing.”  Nario Gohda from Yukio Waguri’s site: http://www.otsukimi.net/koz/e_yw_antho.html   

The desublimated body. Decay is the dance of the living organisms. We stand in between life and death. The beauty of fading out in dance. Different ways of vanishing. Snow melts, a rain of cherry tree petals falls and the moon hides by quarters.

Beauty in the horror of the grimace. The distorted, the uncanny and the grotesque. The coexistence of the painful and the pleasant.

The Inside. Movement emerges from a remote zone which hides in the darkness of our own body.

The unleashed body. Movement without thinking in the search for the body’s own unconscious impulses.

The Avant-Garde body. Fragmentation and dissociation. Influence of modernist art in dance. The hands, the face and the feet going their own separated ways. The mask.

The power of the gaze in dance. From a particular gaze a  determined way of  walking flourishes. Eyes migrate through different body parts. The empty eyes. The whole body as a big eye. Seeing through the other senses. I see with the soles of my feet. To see becomes to feel.

The ground. The worshiped surface from which everything originates.

Presence. Practice one’s own existence into space. Carrying one´s own body weight.

Connecting with the outside. The ego melts into space. Becoming the universe.

The other. Internalizing different beings and their existence. Transforming from one state into the other. Female and male energy, animal spirits, animated and inanimate objects.

Sensing. To sense the essence of things generating movement from our relation with different materials, textures, atmospheres, temperatures,light and darkness.

The space in between. Importance of the invisible space between things. Air circulates around  hidden joints and cavities. The space can become small. Hands can turn diminutive. The smallest detail makes a big difference. Subtlety and delicacy.

Published by

Sara Zalek

artist butoh dancer entrepreneur musician fluid lover

One thought on “For the Curious: More about Butoh”

  1. Thank you! This is fascinating and concise. I have been interested in Butoh for years and love reading more about it.
    Ann

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