KAZUO OHNO

                                         KAZUO OHNO

The avant-garde form Butoh has often been called the "Dance of
Darkness" (Ankoku Butoh). Founded by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in post
war Japan in the 1950's in the aftermath of Hiroshima, it has
now become a global art form, which attracts students from all
walks of life. Dancers, actors, adult beginners, visual artists,
dance therapists, psychotherapists, environmental scientists
come to take our Butoh classes and workshops. Some students
are interested in the theatrical aspect of Butoh, some in the
healing and transformational potential it holds for them.
Butoh training endeavors to free the subconscious mind. Specific
techniques help students unveil their natural expressiveness and
strips away the socially acceptable movements and gestures. It
encourages students to find and embrace hidden movements
that lie buried beneath years of conditioned behavior and
training. Hijikata, the founder of Butoh, often trained his
dancers through the use of images. He would give the students
surreal images and have them react to them, thus stimulating
the body and the subconscious to respond.
Results are sudden and dramatic. Almost every student finds a
way of moving more truthfully. These awakenings to the true
nature of self prove extremely beneficial to students'
development as consciously aware human beings, and to the
craft of acting and dancing.

Photo Eikoh Hosoe- Hijikata and a girl - Kamaitachi

In Eikoh Hosoe's film Navel and A-Bomb, featuring Hijikata Tatsumi (土方巽) and his choreography, the (Japanese) body is connected to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the utter destruction of Japan. Navel and A-Bomb (1960) figures the 'birth' of a new Japanese identity in the wake of the atomic catastrophe, the subsequent defeat and occupation of Japan.

Hosoe met Hijikata the year prior to Navel and A-Bomb. In 1959 Hijikata choreographed and performed Kinjiki (Forbidden Colors), based on the homosexual imagery found in Yukio Mishima's novel of the same name published in 1951.

Starring Tatsumi Hijikata, Yoshito Ohno (大野慶人) , etc. Music: Norio Maeda, Sadao Watanabe etc. Poetry: Taro Yamamoto.


“I would love to offer you even something as tiny as a grain of sand. If only I could succeed in doing that, then I might fulfill my longing to share a part of my life with you. Isn’t it worth risking one’s life to offer something as microscopic as that tiny single grain of sand chosen from amidst countless millions? Take great care at all times. Even the most infinitesimal detail of the slightest gesture you make should be executed with loving care.
It’s never too late to start”
-Kazuo Ohno, from Kazuo Ohno’s World: From Without & Within

“My soul is turning to ashes.
If I breathe out
They spill from my body.
I breathe myself in and out.
My soul floats throughout the sky
As it turns to ashes and falls.”
-Kazuo Ohno, from Kazuo Ohno’s World: From Without & Within

“A great many people are constantly coming to life in me. Aren’t they reaching out to me in my day-to-day life as their souls permeate my body? That’s not inconceivable. Since each and everyone of us is born in and of this universe, we’re linked to every single thing in it. There’s nothing to stop us from reaching out and touching the entire universe.”
-Kazuo Ohno, from Kazuo Ohno’s World: From Without & Within

We weren’t conscious of what we were doing as we devoured each other. On eating our fill, we both ceased to exist, leaving only love in our wake. Did I sacrifice myself as we tore into each other? He allowed me eat my fill. For my part, I ate as much I wanted. He offered me everything, and I likewise offered him all I had to give.
We can take each other’s life, just as we can allow each other to live. Knowing that we can’t extricate ourselves from the life cycle, we didn’t suffer as a result of following our instincts. We took great pleasure in being devoured. It was just as though we were frolicking about like children. We found gratification in eating our fill, by devouring each other.
And now, I live in a world where I strum this wooden floor beneath my feet. I live in a world where there are no boundaries between here and the hereafter.
Kazuo Ohno, from Kazuo Ohno’s World: From Without & Within


"Since the Body itself perishes, it has a form. Butoh has another dimension" - Tatsumi Hijikata

( 1998-295) Hijikata Tatsumi- The words of Butoh


"The Body is constantly violated by things like the development of technology" Tatsumi Hijikata

(1969: 19) Hijikata Tatsumi- The words of Butoh


"Underground art turns into mere trendiness because of the people practicing it. They create a desert around them, then complain there is no water, Why don't they try drinking from the well of their own bodies? Let them pluck the darkness from their own flesh."

Tatsumi Hijikata - The words of Butoh- 1968

Lecture & Screening Saturday, May 19 Bruce Baird on Tatsumi Hijikata and Butoh With a screening of Donald Richie's Sacrifice/Gisei (1959)