Vangeline Theater is home to the New York Butoh Institute.

The New York Butoh Institute is dedicated to the advancement of Butoh in the 21st century, with a special emphasis on scientific research as it relates to Butoh. The New York Butoh Institute was founded to preserve Butoh's heritage while taking steps to investigate butoh scientifically.

We reach out to the New York community by offering public Butoh classes, workshops and performances through collaborations with international and national Butoh artists, as well as to members of the incarcerated population, via teaching Butoh at correctional facilities in New York ("The Dream a Dream Project" since 2007).

While scientific evidence supports the numerous physical, psychological, and social benefits of dance; studies in Japan indicate that Butoh dance is an effective activity for promoting the health and well being of individuals.

"The Japan Dance Therapy Association (JADTA) reports a growing interest in the use of Butoh therapy in promoting general well being in individuals and the community. The Butoh dance method is described as promoting deep mind/body integration with conscious/subconscious integration. Research done by the Hokkaido Technological College reported that various conditions were shown to decrease, including migraines, muscle tensions, nervous stomach conditions, sleeplessness, hypertension, kidney inflammation, and gastric ulcers. Surveys of participants indicated that following the Butoh therapy, they felt happier, better able to enjoy their work, and they felt their lives had acquired greater meaning." (Cooley Nancy, 2003)



The New York Butoh Institute is dedicated to researching the wide range of physical and psychological benefits of Butoh dance. We are interested in the impact of Butoh on health and well being, and in documenting what happens in the brain of people dancing butoh, as well as the effect of Butoh dance on viewers.

Still from Mutual Brainwaves Lab video rendering. Image by Suzanne Dikker and Matthias Oostrik

Still from Mutual Brainwaves Lab video rendering. Image by Suzanne Dikker and Matthias Oostrik


Brain Mapping for Butoh

New imaging technologies now allow researchers to document the brain activity of Butoh dancers, and research centers are well equipped to study Butoh training and its broader neurological implications. The New York Butoh Institute will pioneer scientific studies of the brain of butoh dancers in the US and abroad. Our primary focus will be recording brain activity of first and second generation Butoh Masters from Japan, as well as brain waves of third and fourth generation practitioners from the US.


Contact if you are interested in this project.

“These kinds of projects are not typical neuroscience experiments, in that we are not working with people who are sitting still in a lab. They are very exploratory”.
— – Neuroscientist Suzanne Dikker


Utrecht University Institute of Linguistics

Host institution of NWO Veni grant “On the same wavelength: Can language help our minds resonate in synchrony?” (2014-2018)

New York University, Department of Psychology

Host institution for National Science Foundation INSPIRE grant “Crowd-sourcing neuroscience: neural oscillations and human social dynamics” (2013-2016)

University of Florida, Biomedical Engineering

Co-host institution for National Science Foundation INSPIRE grant ““Crowd-sourcing neuroscience: neural oscillations and human social dynamics” (2013-2016)




Neuroscientist Suzanne Dikker and Butoh Dancer Vangeline

With Siena Oristaglio and Noah Blumenson-Cook
Introduction by Noah Blumenson-Cook

Neuroscientist Suzanne Dikker has been a fixture at MAI ever since she collaborated with Marina Abramovic to create “Measuring the Magic of Mutual Gaze,” a re-staging of “The Artist Is Present” as a neuroscience experiment in 2010. Her work studying and visualizing neuronal synchrony between human beings has been presented by MAI in a series of art+science installations that currently travel the globe. Suzanne once told me that the first time she approached an artist to create a collaborative experiment, she believed it might be detrimental to her career but went ahead anyway, fueled by a passion for expanding the boundaries of scientific research. Nowadays, these types of multidisciplinary collaborations are internationally recognized for their ability to explore complex questions while helping to educate the public about both scientific and artistic processes.

For the last 14 years, Vangeline has been performing, teaching, and choreographing Butoh with her eponymous theater in New York City. Butoh is difficult to define. It arose in 1950s Japan, in stark contrast to both traditional Japanese theater and western dance styles. It is as much avant-garde performance art as it is a dance form. The Butoh performances I have attended were marked by slow, deliberate movement, ashen makeup, and extreme, often grotesque, facial expressions. Bodies seem to be unusually affected by gravity, alternately straining to stay upright and floating upward on invisible strings. Vangeline’s theater fuses the post-apocalyptic vision of Butoh with the aesthetics of 21st century film noir. The company's unique style is informed by her extensive training with masters of the practice, including Tetsuro Fukuhara, Yoshito Ohno, Diego Pinon, and Katsura Kan. When Vangeline watched "Out of the Lab," the short film I created about MAI’s art+science installations, she was riveted. She had been looking to work with scientists for many years to better understand how Butoh works on the brain, but no one she had approached had shown interest in this type of project.

In Butoh, there is a point of synchrony between performers. It starts as a solitary exploration that transcends the individual and goes into something much larger.
— –Vangeline


Vangeline at Passage- ISE Gallery- photo by Michael Blase

Vangeline at Passage- ISE Gallery- photo by Michael Blase