King River Press is pleased to announced that our newest verse collection by our writer/founder, Jodie Hawthorne, is now available in PDF format. Cover image (above) by Felix Brönnimann. Content images by Kohji Asakawa (edited and used with permission)
Ankoku Butoh or Dance of Darkness is loosely described as a combination of spiritual dance and movement theatre performance. Personal, free and fluid in nature, Butoh is a fusion and therefore, and perhaps deliberately, not easy to describe. Ankoku Butoh has also aptly been translated as, foreign dance of darkness.
Initial founder-practitioners, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno pioneered this radical and unorthodox practice in Japan’s vulnerable post Second World War environment. Butoh and imitations of it are still practiced today by dancers in Japan and internationally. Athough Butoh was formed on Japanese soil, the author does not see Butoh as being a Japanese form of dance, nor that its origins are in any way connected to Japanese traditional culture, quite the contrary.
The works of Hijikata and Ohno were heavily influenced by Weimar Germany’s Tanztheater and other avant-garde European creators such as, Antonin Artaud, Jean Genet, Antonia Mercé, Harald Kreutzberg and Mary Wigman. Butoh was inspired by the dark and modern influences of some of their performances and in it’s orginal form has been described as primal, sexual, savage, cruel and violent.
Traditional and modern Butoh experiences have produced mixed results. Much of what we now publicly see in modern Butoh are watered down versions and far from its very dark beginnings. Sadly, there are also hints of exploitation of women practitioners both in the past and present. This work is an outsider’s creative response to researching and viewing the practice. Jodie came to know of Butoh through her interest in Japanese traditional culture, particularly Zen Buddhism and the writing of haiku and related verse; these influences may be apparent in the poems of this collection.
Please do take a look at the references included below as they inform this introduction and the poetry collection.
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The Tree House earth elements wasted on childhood dreams a controlled breakdown white sun black heart underthinking overestimating the light
The Afterlife Gruidae figure screaming to be understood timeless serpents possess this dreamtime no space for emotion layers of the searching self
The New Beginning prohibited the house of pain gloom smears the land of the rising sun internal darkness on display hideous traits of humankind unstoppable corruption is born
References and Further Reading
A Short Introduction to Butoh – Sadler’s Well Theatre
Butoh Dance Performance in Japan
The Art of Butoh and Danny Elfman
Dancing in Between – Portrait of Butoh with Tadashi Endo
The Unravelling of a Dancer – New Yorker by Rachel Aviv
Drawing us in: The Australian Experience of Butoh and Body Weather – Jasmine Robertson
Woman as Plaything? Configeration of the Feminine in Japanese Butoh – Catherine Curtin
An Inquiry into the Creative Processses of Butoh – Pao-Yi Liao
The Originating Impulses of Ankoku Butoh – Orlando Vincent Turner