Butoh, originally called Ankoku Butoh, began in 1960s Japan as a new form of dance by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno. It was traditionally performed in white body makeup with stillness and slow movements.
On the contrary to dance like Ballet which has a certain music, rhythm and beauty of form, Butoh has no set style. It attempts to expose the joys and sorrows of life, exploring the most fundamental elements of physical and psychological existence. While butoh does not have a codified classical technique, there is a “physical language” called Butoh Fu to pull out movement from imagination and word.
It is quite conceptual with no movement at all as Hijikata said, “Butoh is a corpse standing straight up in a desperate bid for life.”
Impression of Butoh (by flamenco dancer)
I knew little about Butoh before the lesson, I was just curious about white makeup. However, it was a kind of cultural shock, since to me dance meant certain movement style and rhythm.
I was expecting a basic movement at the beginning, but instead I was told to stop breathing, stand still, walk super slow, and even convulse.
He told me that the theme is often something outrageous and extraordinary. However, flamenco do expresses negative emotions in your mind such as sadness and loneliness, so I thought there’s some similarities, just the way of expression is different. Anyway, it was totally a new “dance” experience to me and probably expanded my view of dance.