Q: What is butoh?
Ankoku Butoh (dance of darkness) is a style of dance and philosophy of creating total theatre originating from Japan in the mid twentieth century. Sometimes marked by grotesque imagery and taboo themes, the main aim of the work is to reveal tacit knowledge hidden in the body, and to promote self-realization through discovery of your most authentic movement. Butoh training promotes physical endurance and expressiveness, spiritual consciousness, and creativity.
Butoh was founded by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in the late 1950’s. The first performance “Kinjinki – Forbidden Colors” premiered on September 5, 1959 and featured Hijikata, Ohno, and Ohno’s son, Yoshito.
As we enter the 21st century, butoh is now a global phenomenon encompassing artists and practitioners from all walks of life with varying aesthetics, processes, and approaches. For more about this author’s personal approach to butoh and what he sees as the emerging core philosophy, read his blog post here [upcoming].
Q: Where can I learn more about butoh?
- “DANCING INTO DARKNESS: BUTOH, ZEN, AND JAPAN” by Sondra Fraleigh
- “HIJIKATA: REVOLT OF THE BODY” by Stephen Barber
- “KAZUO OHNO’S WORLD: FROM WITHOUT & WITHIN” by Kazuo Ohno & Yoshito Ohno
- “Butoh Masters: Natsu Nakajima & Ankoku Butoh” by Natsu Nakajima
- “Beyond Darkness – Butoh Is a Life Journey” by Bonnie Bonetti / Yumiko Yoshioka
- “How Butoh, the Japanese Dance of Darkness, Helps Us Experience Compassion in a Suffering World” by Jeff Goldberg
Q: Where can I take a class?
Check out my quarterly list of Butoh Training Opportunities in the USA.
Festivals / Events. A few notable recurring festivals and events dedicated to butoh include Seattle Butoh Festival (USA), UNFIX Festival (Scotland, New York, Japan), Asheville Butoh Festival (USA), Chicago Post-Butoh Festival (USA), and many more.