trance dance: 暗黒舞踊 Ankoku Butoh

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 therefore, and perhaps deliberately, not easy to describe.

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.

The modern Butoh experience has produced mixed results. 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. This influence may be apparent in the poems of this collection.

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Sample poems


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

General Information

Butoh – Wikipedia

A Short introduction to Butoh – Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Videos

Butoh Dance Performance in Japan

Kazuo Ono, The Dead Sea

The Art of Butoh & Danny Elfman

DANCING IN BETWEEN – A PORTRAIT OF BUTOH WITH TADASHI ENDO

News Stories

The Unravelling of a Dancer – New Yorker by Rachel Aviv

Academic Writing

The originating impulses of Ankoku Butoh – Orlando Vincent Truter