BUTOH (bootō): A minimalistic, expressionistic dance form that arose in post-war 1960s Japan in reaction to the atom bomb. Featuring talc-covered dancers and stylized, often convulsive movements, this theatrical art form has been described as “unclassifiable.”
Japanese choreographer/director/designer Ushio Amagatsu and his company Sankai Juku are revered around the world for their contemporary butoh creations—sublime dance-theater experiences steeped in elegance, technical precision and emotional depth. Influenced by French surrealist theater, German expressionist dance and Japanese forms such as kabuki, the butoh movement philosophy arose from Japan’s experimental performances of the 1960s. In an ever-unfolding, color-saturated landscape, the monumental Umusuna delves into the mystery of the creation of the world—a mystery that has haunted mankind since the beginning. This transcendent meditation on time features music by Kako Takashi, YAS-KAZ and Yoshikawa Yōichirō.
Dancers: Ushio Amagatsu, Semimaru, Sho Takeuchi, Akihito Ichihara, Ichiro Hasegawa, Dai Matsuoka, Norihito Ishii, Shunsuke Momoki
Co-Produced by Biennale de la Danse / Opéra National de Lyon; Theatre de la Ville Paris, France; Kitakyushu Performing Arts Center, Fukuoka Pref. Japan; Sankai Juku, Tokyo
Production Management by Pomegranate Arts, Linda Brumbach, founder and president
The presentation of Umusuna is supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program.
This performance is also made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
For the 2015 North American tour, Sankai Juku is supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan, Shiseido Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation.
Butoh: A bibliography of Japanese avant-garde dance
by Shea A. Taylor
Recovering the Body and Expanding the Boudaries of Self in Japanese Butoh
by Catherine Curtin
The representation of affect revealed by Butoh dance
by Laura MacFarlane, Irena Kulka, and Frank E. Pollick