Butoh Performances in China: “Butoh: The Great Spirit”

Butoh Performances in China: "Butoh: The Great Spirit"

The Japan Foundation is organizing a program titled "Butoh: The Great Spirit" to introduce Japanese butoh in Beijing.

Butoh, which was started by Tatsumi Hijikata during the 1960s, grew out of a new concept of the human body unlike that of traditional dance in the West, and was established as a reform of the concept of dance in Japan. Now, 25 years after Hijikata's death, his groundbreaking physical philosophy and the great artistic quality of his dance have received high praise in Europe and every other part of the world. Butoh is now evaluated as an established genre of the performing arts. In China, which has a proud history of classical Beijing opera and other excellent traditional performing arts, the introduction of contemporary dance from Japan has been extremely limited to date. The economic development and policies of openness in recent years, however, have brought rising interest in contemporary arts there, particularly in Beijing and other major cities. As one genre of contemporary dance, Japan's butoh is also receiving new attention.

This program will include showings of butoh performance films, with a focus on butoh founder Hijikata, live performances by butoh dancers, lectures by specialists, and exhibits of a photographic record and performance posters. This program is not limited to the single genre of dance, but provides a comprehensive retrospective of the fine arts, photography, film, and other avant-garde arts whose flourishing in the 1960s to 1970s was closely linked to the development of butoh. In addition to this view of butoh, the program also examines that genre’s influence, which extends even to contemporary dance in Japan today. The films screened will be Nikutai no hanran (Rebellion of the Body) and Hosotan (Story of Smallpox), which depict representative works from Hijikata’s world of butoh. The stage performance will be given by Yukio Waguri, who studied directly under Hijikata. Waguri choreographed this piece, and will perform it with Yuko Kawamoto, who is also active in her own company, Shinonome Butoh, together with Lai Chee Yeow, who studied butoh in Malaysia, and performers of numerous nationalities who took part in Beijing workshops. The spiritual world of Tatsumi Hijikata, which inspires and moves people across national boundaries, will be represented.

Film Screening and Lectures

Date and time: February 26 (Sat.), 2011
Film screening and lecture from 2:00 pm

Venue: Japan Foundation Beijing Japan Culture Center
Films: Nikutai no hanran (Rebellion of the Body), Hosotan (Story of Smallpox)

Lecturer: Takashi Morishita (Tatsumi Hijikata Archive, Research Center for the Arts and Arts Administration, Keio University)

Date and time: February 27 (Sun.), 2011
Film screening and lecture from 4:00 pm

Venue: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
Films: Nikutai no hanran (Rebellion of the Body), Hosotan (Story of Smallpox)

Lecturer: Takashi Morishita (Tatsumi Hijikata Archive, Research Center for the Arts and Arts Administration, Keio University)

Butoh Performances

Yukio Waguri and Kozen-Sha Butoh Performance Tamashii no tabi (Journey of the Spirit)
Date and time: March 5 (Sat.) to 6 (Sun.), 2011
Performances start at 7:30pm
Venue: TNT Theater in Nine Theater
Performers: Yukio Waguri, Yuko Kawamoto, Lai Chee Yeow

About Tatsumi Hijikata

Tatsumi Hijikata (1928 - 1986)

Tatsumi Hijikata is widely acknowledged as the founder of butoh. In the 1960s, he launched an avant-garde movement and developed an experimental form of dance in an attempt to transform the concept of dance in Japan. This new form of dance expression ultimately evolved into butoh. During the 1970s to 1980s, Hijikata sought new challenges never before ventured in the world of dance and continued to cultivate butoh's spirit of innovation by developing revolutionary methods of drawing forth the potential of expression from within a body constrained by Japanese culture and customs.
The revolution of dance brought about by Hijikata inspired many dancers who now perform butoh on the world stage. However, in addition to the dance genre, Hijikata has also had a profound and widespread influence on various other art forms, including theatrical art, fine arts, photography, images, and even literature. While initially renounced as heretical, he has left an undeniable mark on post-war Japanese cultural history.
Hijikata's unique philosophy of the body produced the physical art of butoh, and its subsequent spread throughout the world in turn created an ideological foundation that accepted butoh as a distinctive movement in the history of performing arts. Hijikata also displayed exceptional talent in the literary world, and produced many masterpieces, including Yameru maihime (Ailing dancer), which embodies Hijikata's idiosyncratic perception of language. His literary works are compiled in Hijikata Tatsumi zenshu (The Complete Works of Tatsumi Hijikata).

Program Details

Films (in order of production):

Nikutai no hanran (Rebellion of the body) (1968 production / black & white)
Director: Hiroshi Nakamura
Starring: Tatsumi Hijikata

Hosotan (Story of smallpox) (1972 production / black & white / short version)
Director: Keiya Ouchida
Starring: Tatsumi Hijikata


Tatsumi Hijikata's Butoh
Takashi Morishita (Tatsumi Hijikata Archive, Research Center for
the Arts and Arts Administration, Keio University)

Stage performance:

Tamashii no tabi (Journey of the Spirit)
Direction and Choreography: Yukio Waguri
Butoh Performers: Yukio Waguri, Yuko Kawamoto, Lai Chee Yeow
Music and Lighting: Masaru Soga

Exhibition: Under consideration

* Films and exhibition items are tentative.

* Note that the program, date, and time of the films, performances, lectures, and exhibition are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances.

Profile of Performers

Yukio Waguri

MINOSUKE NISHIKAWABorn in Tokyo in 1952, Waguri is a butoh performer who studied directly under Tatsumi Hijikata. He possesses the expressiveness of a hard yet supple body capable of holding beautiful, clearly defined poses and forms and delicately dancing subtle nuances. The diversity of his dancing, which is enacted principally by the transformations of that expressiveness, points to new possibilities for butoh of the future. Waguri has inherited Hijikata’s choreography using the unique Butohfu (Butoh Score), which evokes bodily images by means of words, and further developed his own choreography. He has also devoted his energies to collaboration with artists in other genres. In 1998, he published a CD-ROM titled Butoh kaden (Transmission of the Butoh Flower), which created an occasion for a reevaluation of butoh, with a focus on Hijikata’s dance composition method. In addition to a variety of performance activities, Waguri currently holds widespread butoh workshops at universities and research institutions in Japan and other countries.

The principal works he has performed in are Shiki no tame no nijunana ban (27 evenings for the four seasons), performed by Tatsumi Hijikata (1972); Shizuka na ie (Quiet House), performed by Tatsumi Hijikata (1973); and Hakutobo renzoku koen (Hakutobo Performance Series) (1974-1978). His principal choreographed works include Shizumeru taki (Sunken Waterfall) (1995), Butoh kaden (Transmission of the Butoh Flower) (1996), Erora – ishi no yume (Erola: Dream of Stone) (1997), Chi no hone (Bone of earth) (2000), Tamashii no tabi (Journey of the Spirit) (2003, work for participation in the New York Butoh Festival), and Nikutai no meikyu (Labyrinth of the Body) (2010), among others.

Yuko Kawamoto

Kawamoto began studying under Yukio Waguri, one of Tatsumi Hijikata’s disciples from the later period, in 1992. From then until she left his company in 1998, she was active as a principal dancer for Yukio Waguri and Kozen-Sha. In 2000, she started the Shinonome Butoh Company.
With an established reputation for a presence so substantial that she can change the entire atmosphere just by standing still, Kawamoto also has many fans for her humorous works. Her appeal and power to draw people are not limited to the stage, but show also in her workshops and her process of creating works. Kawamoto learned the Hijikata method from Yukio Waguri, making her one of only a few younger butoh performers to carry on in that line. Lately she has received numerous requests to hold workshops and choreograph works at universities and high schools in other countries.
Kawamoto’s principal works include Hitobire (A Human Presence) (2000, work for participation in the 4th Park Tower Next Dance Festival), and Haru no uta (Spring Song) (2007), while jointly choreographed works include 0120 (Yuko Kawamoto and Tenmetsu, 2008) and Curators of Metropolis (with Frances Barve, invitational work for the London Butoh Festival, 2009), among others.

Profile of Lecturers

Takashi Morishita

Born in 1950, Morishita has been involved with the production of butoh performances since 1972 as a member of Tatsumi Hijikata’s butoh studio Asbestos Hall. After working at a publishing company, on the occasion of Hijikata’s death in 1986 he participated in the establishment and management of the Tatsumi Hijikata memorial museum. He has since engaged in planning and organizing exhibitions and symposiums related to Hijikata.
Today, Morishita manages the Tatsumi Hijikata Archive located in the Research Center for the Arts and Arts Administration at Keio University. He is also a part-time lecturer in the Faculty of Letters at Keio University and representative chairman of the NPO Butoh Souzou Shigen. His literary works include Tatsumi Hijikata, Butohfu no butoh Kigou no souzou, houhou no hakken (Tatsumi Hijikata, butoh based on the butoh score—the creation of symbols, the discovery of method).

[Contact Us]

The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Section, Arts and Culture Dept., The Japan Foundation
Y. Kitagawa (Ms.)
Tel: 03-5369-6063 Fax:03-5369-6038

Page Top