" The Body as Dance "
An Introduction to The Study of Butoh-ology (3)
("Dance Seminer a nishiazabu" chapter 3 English Version)

written by keisuke Sakurai
translated by Asako maruno

9. Noteworthy Butoh Dancers are Considering the Problem at the Point in Time Hijikata Quit

"Sankaijuku" for example, its origin is Hijikata or his pupil Akaji Maro (1943- ). To put it rudely, "Sankaijuku" streamlined the original style of Ankoku-butoh by removing the tangible and fine folk custom-like details of "north eastern" and or Japan. The only things remainingt are bowlegs, bandy legs, and low bent posture etc. But these are the major elements and if these are some kind of a reduction, it may be a modernistic reduction. They thought that by making the contours clear, they will be able to obtain internationality (universality). That is why they presented in alphabet "BUTOH", as an Asian body expression as something that can be captured as an anthropologic paradigm by obliterating the outer layer and the fine details which were absolute conditions for Hijikata. Are not the simple body after removing the detailes or the abstractive expression after reducing , hakkoichiu ("one home under the heaven", a slogan used at the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of Japanese militalism)? They removed the outer layer since they thought it was only an outer layer, then to the contrary, the body underneath became the outer layer, so then the reality and materiality of the body no longer possessed a strong meaning. In other words, such "Asian bodies" are only symbols that do not exist anywhere, but there are details in each Asian dance when we look at them. They might have forgotten the fact that details support dances. Even if we do not so far as to say it is "hakkoichiu", it may only be "Asia as an illusion" which does not exist. On the other hand, things do not work that smoothly for the dancers such as Yoko Ashikawa and or Saga Kobayashi who were once thoroughly schooled by Hijikata. In their cases, their Ankoku-butoh style are already in the nature of being "bonish" flesh masked. Under these premise of the "body that has become", they have to start all over again. Moreover, different from the time they were dancing under Hijikata, in order to dance now, they have to accept as a matter of course that they are subjects themselves. And so, they haveno choice but to return to where the dancer, Tatsumi Hijikata quit once. No matter how they try to dance, they present the reflex influenced body first. By going against their own body movements, from the opposite direction of Hijikata, they may be able to establish a place where the body and form conflict. That is to say, it is competely different from inheriting Ankoku-butoh as a mere traditional performing arts. So, I do not think it matters if the quality of Ankoku-butoh is changed by people like them who stand on particular footing. I think it is an inevitable change. In addition, there is Masaki Iwana (1945- ) from a field unrelated to Ankoku-butoh. Until ten years ago, he had been doing a performance kind of thing, for instance, standing naked for one hour, and or just walking, taking a long time. However, to look back on it, I think that he was thinking of the possibility of objectifying a normal body in a different sense from Hijikata's. (Same thing can be said for Min Tanaka.) Athough he still does not move much, he is now in a more dance-like field. He stands on tiptoes near naked and bears this position for a long time, (not wearing toe shoes). He starts shaking gradually, then of course he falls down at the end. Or in a sitting position, he winds his foot behind his head bringing it over the opposite shoulder to the front, like in Yoga, and licks his toes. He takes a long time to achieve these. So much detail can be seen during this time. It is a beautiful passing of time. Concerning "to become", the time seems to lay at rest forever until it "becomes". Various lines will be drawn in his movement since he takes so much time doing that. The friction between the force that "tries to become" and the physical resistance can be seen clearly. If you look at this as a possible extension of Tatsumi Hijikata's dance, it is very meaningful. Or there is Setsuko Yamada. She is a pupil of Akira Kasai. Like in yoga, aikido and or "tamafuri" (soul shaking, one kind of training in Shintoism) she considers soul or something spiritual as energy, and she has transformed it as dance form. Wherever the energy comes from, what surprises me is that there exists several force arrows in various moments of her movement. That means that the force is working everywhere. Moreover, the center of gravity is dispersed so it seems like it exists in more than one place. This is quite surprising. Of course, if it is a crouched, tired body like in Hijikata's dance, it can be said that movement is of numerous minute force and the center of gravity is clamoring. In her case, it is different. Her movements are big and the ouline of the form is very clear. In other words, it can be considered at the same level with regular dance. For example, in comparison with the level of "poly-centralized" Forsythe or Cunninghams' simple disjointed movement, Setsuko Yamada's is very fissioned. I do not know where it is brought out from but, the energy acts and amplifies in the body. It is a "tamafuri". As energy amplifies in the body, it tries to go beyond the limit or bounds of the body. As a result the body gets controlled. But the will power tries to control the energy and formalize. There is this conflict of force function and disfunction. I think in this, there is also a possibility as we saw in Hijikata. Her dance that can be seen this way is like the "hitofuri" (one movement) in Noh composition mentioned earlier, not the dancer itself becomes the energy. But the materiality and presence of the body as a footing, the soul or rather the energy is made visible by vibration of air. The image remaining there is her dance. I feel that all the noteworthy dancers are now thinking about the problem of the time Hijikata quit. Although there are more dancers I should talk about, the people that I mentioned here are typical and are considered noteworthy possibilities in Butoh. Also, there are many foreign students studying Ankoku-butoh. They are trying hard to make their faces like a crumpled man or turning up their eyes. You can see how raw the materiality of foreign bodies are and so different from Japanese. Their bodies somehow cannot become "objects". They tend to be flabby. Their resistance to killing something living, the Japanese way of immoderated use of physical power is strong. The "I do not want to be like that " consciousness may be acting somehow. Therefore they move softly as well regarding forms. For instance, people often say that "Ankoku-butoh is wriggle", but the wriggle is really quite rigid. When foreigners do it, they are at the tracing level since it is snake-like at a glance. But I will be surprised if their bodies after much traning acquire the materiality and presence, become the bodies "have become". Their Butoh must be realized from their bodies that have basicaly different quality from the Japanese bodies. I would really like to see that.                  (1994 ) !!! No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized without permission. !!! [ This essay is included in "BUTHO KADEN ", two CD-ROMs and an extensive guide book which revails BUTOH's choreographic notation orally handed down to Hijikata's disciple, Yukio Waguri. ]

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