Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Has everyone come across a dance form called butoh? Butoh is a genre of performance art that comes out of Japan. It began in the late 1950s, so only has a roughly 60-year old history, but it has spread internationally during that time. On this course, we will be focusing on the world’s first butoh dancer, Tatsumi Hijikata. So, to introduce myself. I am Yohko Watanabe, a curator at Keio University Art Center. The Art Center is a research institution which focusses on post-war Japanese art. And one of our activities is managing the Tatsumi Hijikata Archive. Tatsumi Hijikata created butoh dance having studied modern dance and classical ballet.
Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds He shaped butoh both as a rejection of those preceding dance forms and in response to the influence of European philosophy and art. So, we might want to ask exactly what kind of context could have given rise to butoh? We will begin this course by exploring Hijikata’s creation of butoh dance from the 1950s to 1960s, in order to get a sense of what is meant by the term “butoh.” From here, we will turn to the revolution of butoh during the 1970s, which will be the focus of week 2 of the course. In the 1970s, Hijikata began to explore new ideas, themes, and techniques, at the same time as refining a new choreographic method.
Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds So, it was during this period that the butoh method, as such, was established. Butoh dance uses notation, just as music uses a score. And it is this form of butoh notation, or “butoh fu,” that will be the focus of the third week. Building on your understanding of Hijikata’s butoh method from week 2, we will be delving into the world of Hijikata’s “notational butoh.” This will be framed in relation to the other ways in which dance notation has developed internationally. Though it is over 30 years since Hijikata passed away in 1986, the dancers who learned butoh under his direction continue to preserve the heritage and aesthetics of his dance form.
Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds In the last week, we will be looking at the dissemination and reception of butoh internationally, and at the international research of butoh. Finally, we will wrap things up by thinking about the development and future of butoh. Throughout the course, we will be making use of archival documents housed at the Art Center. We will also be inviting guest teachers like Rosa van Hensbergen, who researches dance notation and butoh dance to offer you a wide range of perspectives on the dance form. Our hope is that, through learning about butoh dance, your eyes will be opened to a new art form, created in the far East in the late 20th century.