Un sin nombre
o helado agosto
una fiesta de difuntos
de dientes rotos y palabras secas.
Butoh - Dance of Darkness
The Japanese character for butoh consists of two elements:
bu - dance
toh - step
toh - step
Literally: stamping dance.
For many people it is a strange kind of theatre. Not everybody considers it a dance form. The birth of this extraordinary dance lies in post-war Japan. To be precise: the performance of Kinjiki in 1959. It was a short piece, without music, and it raised a scandal. In the piece a young boy (Yoshito Ohno) enacted sex with a chicken by strangling it, then butoh is called shocking, provocative, physical, spiritual, erotic, grotesque, violent, cosmic, nihilistic, cathartic, mysterious .
The word Ankoku Butoh - later abbreviated to butoh - was introduced by Hijikata. It means Dance of Darkness. The best thing is to describe it as a mixture of elements of traditional Japanese theatre, Ausdruckdantz and mime. It breaks with the established (dance) rules and leaves much room for improvisation. Characteristics one often sees are the white painted bodies, the slow movements, the bold heads and contorted postures. The dance evokes images of decay, of fear and desperation, images of eroticism, ecstasy and stillness.
Butoh has undergone influences of the Ausdruckdanttz. In the twenties a lot of Japanese dancers went to Gemany to study the european dance. Upon their return to Japan they founded ballet schools in which Kazuo Ohno and Hijikata got their first lessons. Those two founding fathers of butoh met in 1954. It turned out to be the beginning of a co-operation for years. Hijikata would direct and choreograph many pieces for Ohno. Hijikata's studio became the centre of the butoh movement, a movement with as many faces as there are dancers. There is an enormous difference between the aesthetic butoh of Sankai Juku and the raw, playfull and extreme formes one can see at Byakko-sha and Dance Love Machine.
Butoh connects the conscious with the unconscious. Movement is not dictaded from the outside, but, appears in the interaction between the outer and inner world.
Some people say that the essence of butoh lies in the mechanism through which the dancers stops being himself and becomes someone or something else. This is a different conception of dance then the conventional where the body of the dancer expresses an emotion or abstract idea.