舞踏 Butoh
September 30, 2012 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Dance of Darkness (Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt.4) is a documentary about the Japanese art form, Butoh. (Video links are generally NSFW:Nudity)

Butoh Artists and their Works:

Tatsumi Hijikata Kazuo Ohno Kaoru Okumura (Seattle Butoh Movement)
Taketeru Kudo
Minako Seki Miscellaneous Contemporary Butoh
posted by lemuring (12 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

Nice of you to compile all these pieces. My introduction to butoh was through the movie Cherry Blossoms, and was frankly blown away by this form of dance. It's so raw, heart-searingly honest and beautiful.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:24 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

excellent post!
posted by quazichimp at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2012

Holy shit. So this is where that super fucking creepy scene in Pulse came from.
posted by Mothlight at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2012

That scene from Pulse, if anyone's interested. I don't know how this plays out of context, but in the film it's incredibly scary.
posted by Mothlight at 12:16 PM on September 30, 2012

One of the things that fascinates me most about butoh is that it's a contemporary art style, developed after and in some ways in response to World War II. On first exposure, I'd assumed it was a traditional art form on the order of noh, which I guess shows that I don't know much about dance.

(Interestingly enough, in an obituary for a prominent Japanese immunologist, I learned that he was also famed for writing noh plays, something I didn't think happened anymore. Many of them can also be seen as a response to WWII; while I don't want to fall into an orientalist trap, I wonder if the indirect expression available in these art forms allows for reflection on a topic that current Japanese cultural norms make hard to discuss directly.)
posted by monocyte at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2012

I saw Kazuo Ohno perform in the mid-90's, when he had to be almost 90 himself. I didn't know anything about butoh and had gone on a whim, but I remember being blown away by his utter control of his movement. It was like he had conscious control of every individual muscle fiber in his body. I've never really enjoyed dance as much as other art forms--I think I'm just fundamentally too verbal--but that performance really resonated with me and remains one of the formative artistic experiences of my young adulthood.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 1:22 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Besides the Silent Scream scene in Baraka, I had no idea what this was until this moment. Reading about it, it almost seems like butoh served the function of rock and roll after WWII.
posted by hanoixan at 2:23 PM on September 30, 2012

I find these kind of perplexing to watch as videos, but I think I would really enjoy it live, and will look for opportunities. Thanks for putting this together.
posted by Forktine at 3:21 PM on September 30, 2012

Thanks lemuring. I have just become interested in this form... since seeing Theatre Gumbo who are currently performing their Japanese Australian Butoh Cabaret Extravaganza DasSHOKU SHAKE! as part of the Melbourne Fringe.
The performance took me on an emotional rollercoaster - it was amazing!
posted by sconbie at 6:30 PM on September 30, 2012

One of the perfomers was Yumi Umiumare
Watching Umiumare dance butoh is like watching a stainless steel mannequin ram a knife into a toaster Vibewire online Melbourne 2005
posted by sconbie at 6:40 PM on September 30, 2012

Seattle, where I live, has a large number of Butoh and Butoh-influenced companys. The Degenerate Art Ensemble, Death Posture, DaipanButoh, and numerous individuals who do solo work or move through these ensembles. It might be the Butoh capital of North America.

As for Dance Of Darkness, I watch it at least once a year. It's a beautiful document that destroys conceptions of Butoh being some gothic, slow-moving meditation on depression and death. There is that for some, but not all practitioners.

Minako Seki brings strange joys, Joan Laage is obsessed with the beauty of nature, Katsura Kan is a symbolist and a devotee of the absurb and the profane, Su-en Butoh Company is on some weird, ultra-disciplined other shit. There's still many places for this artform to go that haven't even been explored. As a former practioner it's interesting for me to see its influences appearing in other forms of dance.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:04 PM on October 1, 2012

Thank you for this amazing post!
I was super happy to get a book on Ohno from a picture retrospective in Tokyo a few years back.
posted by Theta States at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2012

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