Butoh is an avant garde performance art, that has its origins in Japan in the 1960’s. Its founders were a young rebellious modern dancer named Tatsumi Hijikata (1928 -1986), and his partner Kazuo Ohno (b. 1906).
Hijikata was dissatisfied with the Japanese modern dance scene, feeling that it was merely a copy of the work being done in the West. He wanted to find a form of expression that was purely Japanese, and one that allowed the body to “speak” for itself, thru unconscious improvised movement. His first experiments were called Ankoku Butoh, or the Dance of Darkness. This darkness referred to the area of what was unknown to man, either within himself or in his surroundings. His butoh sought to tap the long dormant genetic forces that lay hidden in the shrinking consciousness of modern man.
Butoh loosely translated means stomp dance, or earth dance. Hijikata believed that by distorting the body, and by moving slowly on bent legs he could get away from the traditional idea of the beautiful body, and return to a more organic natural beauty. The beauty of an old woman bent against a sharp wind, as she struggles home with a basket of rice on her back. Or the beauty of a lone child splashing about in a mud puddle - this was the natural movement Hijikata wanted to explore.