About Butoh

Butoh History: Originating in post WWII Japan, butoh is a potent and revolutionary dance form. Butoh uses the body brazenly as a battleground to attain personal, social or political transformation. In its early forms, butoh embraced and referenced Western artistic movements; German Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Existentialism and Fluxus, all of which pervaded the Tokyo underground and the avant-garde arts scene at that time. In fact, the cofounders of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno trained in German modern dance, which was integral to the development of German Expressionism. But, eventually they took opposite approaches to their dance making. Hijikata’s work became known as ankoku butoh (dance of utter darkness); and, he embraced the grotesque and the absurd, exploring themes of sacrifice, struggle and death. Ohno’s butoh was playful, humorous and filled with light and life. Today’s butoh is influenced by both Hijikata and Ohno and wrestles to balance those contrary approaches. Philosophically, butoh slips between the cracks of definition in order to reveal the fervent beauty of the unique human spirit.