Kazuo Ohno. Photo by Arika Inoue (1992)

“He had a completely liberated soul and body on hand to exchange unseen energy with the audience…”

Butoh (舞踏, Butō) is the collective name for a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement inspired by the Ankoku-Butoh (暗黒舞踏, ankoku butō) movement.

The first butoh piece, Kinjiki (Forbidden Colours) by Tatsumi Hijikata, premiered at a dance festival in 1959. It was based on the novel of the same name by Yukio Mishima.

The work developed beginning in 1960 by Kazuo Ohno with Tatsumi Hijikata was the beginning of what now is regarded as “Butoh.” In Jean Viala’s and Nourit Masson-Sekinea’s book Shades of Darkness, Kazuo Ohno is regarded as “the soul of Butoh,” while Tatsumi Hijikata is seen as “the architect of Butoh.”

“Form comes of itself, only insofar as there is a spiritual content to begin with.” Kazuo Ohno

“I have never heard of a butoh dancer entering a competition. Every butoh performance itself is an ultimate expression; there are not and cannot be second or third places. If butoh dancers were content with less than the ultimate, they would not be actually dancing butoh, for real butoh, like real life itself, cannot be given rankings.” Iwana Masaki

Kazuo Ohno passed away on June 1st at the age of 103.

Sources and Further Reading:

Kazuo Ohno
Tatsumi Hijikata
Butoh Legend Kazuo Ohno Passes Away

Related Posts:

Bandō Tamasaburō V


2 thoughts on “Butoh

  1. Excellent post! I am very glad to have discovered your blog and I will visit often.

    Ellie in Wisconsin, USA

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