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butoh (Photo credit: Kamila Stępniowska)

Butoh – it’s a form of contemporary dance that emerged in Japan after the World War II. This dance is often called dance of the darkness – Ankoku butoh. It was created in the atmosphere of revolt and was supposed to be opposite to the traditional Japanese dance and theatre scene, but also to domination of euro-American culture.

Butoh refers to the ancient beliefs, rituals and demotic aesthetics of the ugliness. A huge influence on its inception had tragedy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That occurrence – likewise the holocaust in Europe – doesn’t leave any doubts as to the aspects of human nature. Therefore butoh relates to that dark, sometimes very brutal side of human and world.

Butoh dance is the celebration and ritual within itself, setting an inner energy out and exploring the murk of subconsciousness. With premeditation emerges forbidden of yet expanses of life. Butoh touches upon the torment, madness, illness, senescence, death. It opposes the denial of those aspects of life in our modern world where beautiful is only young and fit body from the magazine covers, whereas death and suffering ‘don’t exist’; yet it is not its purpose to emanate with the ugliness or death. On the contrary it is the affirmation of life as it really is and noticing that true grace in its each manifestation.

Akaji Maro, creator of one of the greatest butoh groups – Dairakudakan, once said:

”Butoh is like a spreading throughout the world virus. It becomes global. People in different countries ‘internalize’ it in their own bodies”.


Part of Swiss Butoh dancer Imre Thormann’s performance at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Shiga (Japan) in summer 2006. The live music is by Swiss jazz pianist Nik Baertsch and his band “Mobile”.



Aída Miró. 2011