“International Butoh and Design after Dance”
at Laurete at International University in Sao Paulo, November 15 2016
at Howl! Art in New York, November 13 2017
“Our Day with a Crisis”
Shigeo Ohyama, Research of Asahi-Newspapers investigation center, Tokyo
“My attraction to Butoh is based on the world of technology. As a journalist I have been dealing with information technology and computers. Doing such work I became aware, through my all senses, of all what is happening in our day life, and this made me aware of a strong sense of crisis in the future of the human mind’s image.
As far as I understand Butoh is not a dance merely trying to express some ideas or feelings through the body, but is trying to express the body itself, the root of the body. Of course, as a form of art Butoh has diversity, but I think that as excellent Butoh dancer should feel the crisis of our time. So, I had entered the Butoh’s world and I met Tetsuro Fukuhara there. When I saw his dance for the first time he was dancing in the center of the stage. As a tree growing he held both arms straight up in the air. The highly raised right hand was moving slowly, and even more slowly did his fingers do so, but nevertheless his body was advancing. At that instant, as if in a spark, I remembered something deep down. It was nonverbal, a sense appearing like a wave – motion way? down my own body. This movement happened simultaneously with the movement of Fukuhara’s dance, which was cutting the space in a minimal but intense way. The intensity locking me down. I was surprised that his dance could express the original sense of the body for a movement”.
 WHAT is BUTOH?
Now, Butoh is still one of the major art forms as the cultural scenes not only in Europe and America but also in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. We can find many Foreign Butoh Dancers in the world.
Butoh has two styles, one is “Butoh of Darkness“, other is “Improvisation Butoh”. I belong to “Improvisation Butoh” as the second generation. I carry on Butoh as “New Butoh Space Dance“, then I have created “Space Dance” to socialize “Tacit Knowledge” based on Butoh as a value for the general public by the collaboration of “Dance + Architecture + Information + Design“.
In the second half of 1960, in Japan, with a special support from Yukio Mishima, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno could create “Butoh of Darkness” to unify the difference as a big problem between the traditional dance & its culture before Edo-era and the modern dance & its culture after Meiji-era. Then, Akira Kasai could create “Improvisation Butoh” through “Butoh of Darkness”.
The definition of Butoh by Tetsuro Fukuhara is like the below;
Butoh is “a step from within“.
Butoh is “self-realization” though the body of the individual, direct, original dance technique.
Butoh is “a recovery of the wild in mankind and a rebirth of the body” intoxicated somehow lost in the contemporary world.
Butoh is an art which promotes us growth, and keeps the age-worthy flower blossoming continuously.
Everybody can develop their own Butoh as much as they receive their own body.
What is a pleasure of a dance? Sure, it is a pleasure to change our feelings about our world at the moment. In this dance feelings we can not find any differences between ourselves, we feel we are connected to everyone and everywhere. So a dancer dance eternally to get this feelings.
Also, as 21st dance history, we have a big theme to develop “a mature dance together with our age” using by new dance technique. If we should retire after a definite age, for example after 30 ages or after 40 ages, we should say its dance belongs to the old art system. In Butoh the maturity will be important, for us “the tacit knowledge” which we keep in our body in our life is most important treasure. We can develop our dances on the basis of this tacit Knowledge.
So, I teach several ways to the participants and the students to receive their own body, to away a model of the imitation, to decide the things by themselves, to find their own feelings and techniques, and to make their own dance story.
 “VANGELINE, POSSIBILITY of INTERNATIONAL BUTOH”
In these years, several times I think one interesting theme of “International Butoh”. I hope soon it will be established in our world. Now I know many Foreign Butoh Dancers there, so it will be not a pipe dream.
What is Butoh? Butoh is a step from within. And, in general what is the main effect of Butoh? For example I know one story as a possibility for getting freedom from my friend dancer like the below;
She was one of top excellent dancers in one famous contemporary dance company in London. But little by little she had start to suffer her spirit without reason and stopped a dance. She returned to Istanbul in silence and she did nothing for 5 years. Then suddenly, she wanted to start her dance again. In that time she could choose my Butoh Class in Istanbul. Because she needed absolute freedom for her spirit and for her dance, and she could feel Butoh has its ability. Yes, in truth Butoh keeps it. When I saw her dance it was great and she was very free and very fine, no illness. Like this story, I think through Butoh everybody can get the sense of liberation.
Then, I think we can’t develop Butoh as more wide scale if only Japanese Butoh Choreographer leads Butoh. For example, In Judo World, after the time when Antonius Geesink, Hollander Judo Player, could get a gold medal at Tokyo Olympic Game on 1964 in Japan, Judo World underwent a complete change. Because “Japanese Mythology” in its world collapsed, and many foreign young Judo players started to come to Geesink to study a Judo, not come to Koudokan, a Mecca of Judo, in Tokyo. Then, “International Judo” could start. In short, Judo could get the wealth for the first time by the appearance of Geesink and “International Judo”.
I think Butoh have a same possibility. As long as Japanese Butoh Choreographer teach the characteristic of Japanese way how to use the body to foreign Butoh student and the student only study it, Butoh can’t get the wealth. Otherwise, the student needs to develop his own way based on the culture of his country through its study. Because, it is Butoh. We have different cultural-body depend on our countries. Japanese don’t know other cultural-body, he knows only Japanese cultural-body. So, Butoh student should find the ways by themselves. Only in that time the true diversity will appear, then Butoh can get the wealth.
Like that, from my view point, it seems Vangeline, Artistic Director of The Vangeline Theater keeps same possibility with Geesink. At first site, Vangeline’s Butoh is close to Japanese Butoh. But, I know in fact it is completely different. Vangeline is a French Butoh Choreographer, she lives in New York City for 24 years. Recently CNN made her very nice document;
Also, I could read very nice 2 articles about Vangeline’s recent works “Butoh Beethoven” in NY, “Vangeline’s virtuosic solo performance will make your skin crawl in the best way possible, conjuring the ghosts of tortured geniuses Beethoven and Tatsumi Hijikata and bringing Butoh into the 21st century with technical marvels and masterful skill” by Theasy and “Vangeline tells story of Butoh through Butoh and tells it beautifully” by Stage Buddy.
Particularly I know Vangeline’s sense for the beauty is great, just as French artist she could continue to express very beautiful original many scenes on the stage. Our japanese Butoh Choreographers can’t express that kind of beauty. We have same stories, for example when we see a film about “Love” we find very different 2 qualities about love between Japanese film and French film. Also, her attitude to master Butoh is like a seeker after truth and like a monk, so people love her daily life and way too. Now several japanese dancers and foreign dancers come to her in NY to study Butoh. So, I believe, sure Vangeline will be one of woman-Geesink to establish “International Butoh”. Every year she could develop her images in her deep mind as her own Butoh based on her own cultural-body as French. Of course these works will be not easy for usual artists. So I have a lot of expectations to her.
 “WHAT is SPACE DANCE?”
Space Dance based on Butoh is a name of “Design after Dance” which will make to appear an amicable body and its environment in the space. I could create Space Dance on 2001 when I performed at the United Nations in New York and at the Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan through my epochal experiences by the meeting with Shusaku Arakawa and the theory of “Affordance” from 1994.
The essence of Space Dance is “how to recover the memory beyond human history?” and “how to express the tacit knowledge to design a new body for post-human?“. In Space Dance we are aware of the body as “bone space” and we think that “bone space” keeps all memories about the body movements of all living thing liked with our brain.
The definition of Space Dance by Tetsuro Fukuhara is like the below;
In Space Dance, the body is not a tool for expressing a story, the body is a story.
In any time the excellent dancer in the world keeps the ability to dance with a special dance technique to organize the body as the object, not as the subject. In Space Dance we study this dance technique. Then we try to recover the memory beyond human history through our dance and we accumulate its result as the tacit knowledge about the body.
Our feet always are connected with the ground. Our human in our daily life forget this fact. But when we dance with a dance technique to organize our body as the object, the relationship between our feet and the grand will be clear and we can get back a familiar feeling between the body and the earth.
In this time when we dance with the earth we can recognize some strange new feeling happen around the temporal lobe of our brain. Why? New feeling? Because it is a first experience for our brain to move our body with such a strange new way.
Our brain keeps all memories about all life on our earth. Because our brain into the Mother’s womb during 10 months grow up through the process of evolution of the brain from the beginning to today’s human brain. So, in our dance movements too, sometime we can find other strange movements of all life through these memories.
So in Space Dance when we try to dance to organize our body as the object we can touch several “forgotten memories” sometimes with a wave motion of the internal organs, sometimes with a sound of the bone, and sometimes with an excitement of the nerve. In that time we can feel a new feeling in our brain and “bone space“, then under this influence we can find the unexperienced movements by chance. In short we can stimulate several “forgotten memories“.
“forgotten memories” wake up a strong nostalgia in our mind. And this nostalgia gives new energy to us. Then we understand “new unknown movement’s world” exists behind our usual human movements.
This energy continue without end. When we dig up “forgotten memories” we can organize the unexpected movements based on each memories. We shake with its freshness and we are amazed by ourselves. Then we start to talk a new story beyond the human drama.
Usually, very soon, our human feel tired in our movements without this energy. But when we house this energy we get the lasting energy from the circulation between the body and the ground, then it arise like the growth of a snowball. We never feel tired.
Like that in Space Dance we dig up “forgotten memories” and we expand “new unknown movement’s world”, then we try to express “new unknown movement’s world” as “history of postures evolution with fish, amphibia, bird, and monkey“. We can describe that “history of postures evolution” had started from a ameba without hands and feet. Then now “History of Postures Evolution” meets one peak by human with a bipedal walker.
Why “history of postures evolution” is important for Space Dance? Because the purpose of Space Dance is the looking back on the past of all life, then the creation for “future of human body” as a return from its retrospection.
Then in Space Dance we make a visualization of “history of postures evolution” as the images. And we make an information of “new unknown movement’s world” as the tacid knowledge using by information technology. Finally we try to make a design through the tacid knowledge for the new body, the new object, and the new space.
Like that, in Space Dance we can create the new designs after our dance. For these works we adopt the collaboration by “dance + architecture + information + design“. Then, Space Dance is just a work of “Design after Dance“.
 “DESIGN after DANCE”
In Space Tube the dancer’s movement always decide the shape of the space, and the repulsion in Space Tube always support the dancer’s body. The relationship between the dancer and the space will be maintained as a very amicable relationship of its unity.
I will express this relationship as a “body-space model” as a program. And we use this model as a medium to design a robot suit called “memory chair” as a digital manikin and “alter ego” as a real existence.
At first, we try to create “several postures including animal’s postures” as a human. As many animal’s postures have experienced the big changes in their very long historical life into the water and on the ground, then as our human beings we could been born by our walking using two feet. So, human’s posture is a parameter which will change by the change of its environments.
Now we think that in our world human are faced in the new unknown change of environments influenced from the outside of the informational space and the outer space, and the problem of environmental pollution, and from the inside of the body, with the artificial bodies by robotics and bio-technology. So our human should seek to search new ways and create new postures with a new outlook on the body for adjusting its changes.
Therefore, in Space Dance, we reconsider the “making dance forms” as the “making postures”. Also we are taking notice of a fact that always the postures will be born with the relationship of the condition of the space, so then we develop Space Tube and a robot suit for the dancers as both intelligent robots through the interaction between the dancer and the space.
And we develop each dancer’s unknown postures which sleep in their unconsciousness using by these intelligent robotic spaces. Further, we define and choose each developing unknown postures from the view point of the evolution.
Then, at first, on the network, we express a robot suit as “memory chair” as a digital manekin with a sound. And secondly, as a real existence, we create a robot suit as “alter ego” as a real existence.
So, we will construct these series of all works as a “six stories of body, memory, space, posture, information, alter ego, and universe”, then we will perform it as Space Dance. As its result, we can get the new designs of “memory chair” and “alter ego”. Like that, through these works, we can get a new position that Space Dance is not only a dance work to perform a “new story” but also a “Bauhaus Work” to create new designs.
[Tetsuro Fukuhara & Tokyo Space Dance]
Tetsuro Fukuhara is CEO of Space Museum Corp. and Director of Tokyo Space Dance, choreographer, writer, and photographer. In 2004-2006 he began a study in tokyo with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA). In 2006, “Space Dance in the Robotic Universe” was one of twenty performances short-listed by an international jury for the Unesco Digital Arts award. In 2008 he published a book “Space Dance” by Shunjusha Publishing Company in Tokyo. From 2009 he hold “Space Dance in the Tube” in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, South-Middle-North America, and in Japan. 2013-2016, at Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center, Nagoya Dome, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, LaNaNa(Mexico City), Eskisehir Science Center, and Cer Modern Museum he hold “Space Dance in the Tube”, 250,000 audiences come to this project and enjoyed a Space Tube and Space Dance Performance.