History of Our World

Butoh | Shades of Darkness

Posted in Dance, Performance by B on June 1, 2010

Kazuo Ohno, Water Lilies, 1987. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine. “Steps of the dead carrying love, bewilderment of the dead searching for love.”

Kazuo Ohno, Dead Sea, 1985. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine. “The dead start running…”

Tatsumi Hijikata, Shizukana le, 1973. Photograph by Makoto Onozuka. “I keep one of my sisters alive in my body when I am absorbed in creating a Butoh piece, she tears off the darkness in my body and eats more than is necessary of it…when she stands up in my body I sit down impulsively.”

Tatsumi Hijikata, Shizukana le, 1973. Photograph by Makoto Onozuka. “My mother used to say: Run with the heart of the blind.”

A Dairakuda-Kan member after a performance in their theatre, 1983. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine.

U. Amagatsu, Unetsu. Photograph by Masafumi Sakamoto.

Unetsu. Photograph by Masafumi Sakamoto.

Sebi. Photograph by Mitsutoshi Hanaga.

Ariadone. Photograph by Mitsutoshi Hanaga.

Natsu Nakajima, The Garden, 1982. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine.

Renai Butoh-ha, choreographed by Tatsumi Hijikata, 1984. Photograph by Masato Okada. “Our bodies love tradition; I feel Butoh when I face my traditional body…Avant-garde is an intense love affair with tradition.” – Min Tanaka.

Emerging from Japan during the turbulent 1960s, Butoh has become one of the major developments of contemporary dance and revolutionized the way in which people view what dance is, and can be. Butoh is a form of expression that draws upon traditional Japanese movements, such as the mincing steps that one must take when wearing a kimono, and by allowing the body to speak for itself through unconscious and improvised movement. By combining these and other elements such as, mime, theatrics, Noh, Kabuki and even the Chinese arts of Chi kung and Tai chi, hybrid movements have developed that belong neither to Western dance nor to traditional Japanese dance. Thus, Butoh’s powerful imagery and its radical new approach have stirred the imagination of a growing audience and become a strong source of inspiration for dancers the world over.


Butoh | Shades of Darkness

Jean Viala: Toshiaki Suzuki: Nourit Masson-Sekine





Kazuo Ohno

Tatsumi Hijikata