Via Tokyo Stages, thrilling news from Japan about a dance form I’ve feared and loved and enjoyed and hated and question constantly since undergrad. I was lucky to learn more than the average dance major about this dance form, since a few of our professors had direct interest and connections to Butoh dancers living in America. and while in Japan, I was intrigued to learn that Butoh isn’t quite marketed the same as more classical national art forms are like Kabuki or Noh.
Butoh-kan (Butoh Hall) has its first performance on July 7th, after which it will offer two dances every Thursday. The organisers say it is the first dedicated Butoh theatre of its kind in the world… Butoh-kan has also made a bold promise to “create the world’s most comprehensive” website about Butoh. This is also a timely and valuable project, providing it lives up to its claim.
To connect to the entire situation in contemporary Western dance and ballet, Butoh has also been predominately led by male directors and teachers, though there are many cultural differences at play too. What does Butoh in the 21st century look like? It’s such a young art form with so much potential to enrich and engage with a wide range of audience members.
The performers are Ima Tenko and Okaeri Shimai, making this a relatively rare female Butoh venture in an increasingly male-dominated scene. It also yet another reason why Kyoto should be considered one of the centres of contemporary Japanese theatre.