The dawn of Butoh and the body of Tatsum Hijikata
Hiromi Harada(Japanese Dance critic, author of “Butoh Taizen”)
＊This text was altered after reading Japanese version of “Le Butô en France―Malentendus et Fasciation” by Sylviane Pagès（in France,2015/in Japan,2017）in 2018 January, from ”Lunch time lecture” at Kent University in U.K. on 12th October in 2005”.
Hello, everyone. Have you ever watched Butoh? Butoh dancers are generally white-painted and they lower their center of gravity, move slowly. And they sometimes bowlegged, pigeon-toed, chicken-neck,skin-head and half-naked. Then their eyes are half an eye or white of the eye, or they have sometimes steady fixed look, their bodies droop and slump or cramped, and are stiff as corpse. Today I’d like to speak about butoh dancer's body, especially about the body of Butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata, which seems to be surrealistic. However, before I speak about it, I’d like to tell you the short history of Butoh.
Now Butoh is known by many people around the world, but it has started from 1959, as the most avant-garde movement on stage in Japan after World WarⅡ.We have now almost 60 years of Butoh history. The founder of Butoh is Tatsumi Hijikata, he was born in 1928 and passed away in 1986. But he had a real big charisma for under-ground scene in Japan, and was a genius, because he created Butoh as a new genre of performing-art in his lifetime.
On the other hand, we had really another great Butoh master Kazuo Ohno, he was born in 1906 and passed away in 2010, he was 22 years elder than Hijikata, also in his later years he had been continuing to dance Butoh on wheel chair. The first meeting of Hijikata and Ohno was 1954, although Hijikata looked Ohno's performance amazing at it in 1949. And their first collaboration became the first Butoh piece in 1959, but in this time Yoshito Ohno (1938～) who is Kazuo's son played supporting role to Hijikata. After then they had helped each other, and had been collaborating for more than 20years, as a result they created the real core of Butoh not only in Japan but also abroad.
The First piece of Butoh was "Kinjiki" in 1959 as mentioned, it was choreographed by Hijikata, and he dealt with homosexuality in it, being influenced by Jean Genet and Yukio Mishima. The title “Kinjiki” was taken from a Mishima’s novel. According to the legend of Butoh, in this time half number of audience was shocked to leave the room.
And following most shocking performance by Hijikata was in 1968, the title of this famous avant-garde piece was "Tatsumi Hijikata and Japanese”, and subtitle was “Rebellion(Revolt) of body". It was peak in the first half of Hijikata’s butoh life.
Then after it, during the1970s, Hijikata was beginning to accomplish his new Butoh style with his special pupil Yoko Ashikawa(1947～),Saga Kobayashi(1946～), Koichi Tamano (1946～),Yukio Waguri(1952～2017) and some dancers, and he realized the first full-dress performance of this new style on stage in 1972. In the autumn of this year he gave 5 different pieces in a month, these pieces also gave another Butoh great history, the general title was "27 nights for 4 seasons".
However in this 1972, the other strong Butoh company Dairakudakan was born, this company has been doing good at Spectacle. And they added to Butoh new taste of underground theater Jōkyō-gekijō (Situation Theater), which was a representative one in those days, their main feature was physical theatre by so strong impression of body. But some of founding members of the new butoh company Dairakudakan had been disciples of Hijikata, for example leader of this is Akaji Maro (1943～), or Ko Murobushi (1947～2015), Bishop Yamada(1948～). And especially Maro had been already also a big star in Jōkyō-gekijō, before establishing Dairakudakan. Their taste became a natural mixing of dance and physical theater.
As a result, this concept was almost similar in Tantz Theater of Pina Bausch(1940～2009). Butoh and Pina Bausch had met actually each other at Paris later in the 1970s (Early time of Butoh in Europe), and people say that they gave influence the becoming of Nouvelle Danse, which has being a contemporary dance in France. And it has been spreading as Contemporary Dance scene in many countries until today.
By the way, basically Hijikata, Ohno(s), other Butoh dancers from early time had experienced for instance mainly Modern dance from Germany, or also sometimes Ballet from Russia or U.S.A., also touched modern Mime from France, before Butoh. So this modern dance was Neue tantz, which is German expressional dance, some pioneers of Japanese modern dance learned it in Germany, and brought it to Japan before World WarⅡ. So, Tantz Theater of Pina Bausch and Butoh have same root.
WATER LILY(KAZUO & YOSHITO OHNO) in 1994©EIKOH HOSOE
I think their common point is their importance of memories including shocks and traumata, deposited in their body and mind, then they sometimes let them be core for creating pieces. This point is also very important for each masterpiece of Hijikata, Ohno, Maro, even Ushio Amagatsu (1949～) of Sankaijuku. The early Amagatsu’s piece ”Kinkan-Shonen” was made of his memory when he was a boy. And about “Unetsu- From one thing to make the egg heat” in 1986, Amagatsu’s memory for creating this piece might be too sorrowful loss of a dancer’s life in his company during their performance of hanging upside down by accident at Seattle in 1985.
Incidentally, the first dancer who went to abroad was Mitsutaka Ishii (1939～2017), he was an important disciple of Hijikata in 1960's. His first work abroad started from London in 1971. He left Japan in this year, and took the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Moscow, and from there flew to Heathrow air-port, with an only one-way ticket to London, and only 45dollars. He was a special Butoh dancer and improviser, his main work was in Germany before going back to Japan with his partner and disciple Bettina Klein Hannes (She went back to Germany in the 1980s), then had lived at village since 1979. He had very unique and fine artistic nature, was also the first person in Japan having dance workshop at mental hospital in the early 1970s. And after the 1980s, he went to Germany, Austria, too.
And as same as Ishii, Akira Kasai (1943～) is an important one from early time of Butoh. He took part in some important pieces by Hijikata in 1960s. Before joying Hijikata, he learned Neue Tanz, Ballet, Mime, then after, he learned from Kazuo Ohno for 3years. He has mysticism and so original notion of Butoh. Then he says that I used the word of Butoh in earlier than Hijikata, I guess the time when he was teenager. Later he went to Germany to study Eurhytmie from last of the1970s to 1985. He is also special improviser, solo dancer, however his dance is more rhythmical than others, so his dance close to contemporary dance. So that, surely since half in the 1990s, he sometimes collaborated with contemporary dancers.
Then we shouldn’t forget about Tomiko Takai (1931～2011) who had learned from Takaya Eguchi(write later), Kazuo Ohno and Hijikata. ”Keijijōgaku” was the first her butoh piece. The title was quoted from Ikuya Katō’s collection of poems, and this piece was supported by mainly Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, Yoshito Ohno, Ishii, Kasai, and several contemporary artists including Natsuyuki Nakanishi(1935～2016) around Hijikata in 1967.
Besides of them, another new certain main stream of Butoh for Europe started in France from the first of 1978 with Comp. Ariadone and Ko Murobushi at Sylvia Montfort. The leader of this female group was Carlota Ikeda (1941～2014), in this time of going to Paris, other members were Yumiko Yoshioka (1952～), and Ko Murobushi. So Murobushi choreographed for this group in those days, although he had been co-founder of Dairakudakan, after experiencing to be disciple of Hijikata. And later he had left not only Dairakudakan, but also Comp. Ariadone.
In this1978 was completely special year for Butoh for France. After about half a year of the stage of Comp. Ariadne & Ko Murobushi, Yoko Ashikawa also brought her solo piece choreographed by Hijikata to Paris, and Min Tanaka (1945～) had improvisation with jazz musician that wasn’t called Butoh yet in those time, at same place (Musée des arts décoratifs), in same event (exhibition of “Japanese Ma” produced by Arata Isozaki, modern architecture) as Ashikawa.
Then, since 1980, Kazuo Ohno and Sankaijuku were also known in Europe, in the wake of taking part in Avignon and Nancy Festival. Hijikata helped the Ohno’s piece “La Argentina-sho”, later “My Mother” by his direction in Japan. The other side, the leader of Sankaijuku, Ushio Amagatsu had left Dairakudakan, and founded Sankaijuku, then after having some successful tours for several years in Japan, went to France. Then Amagatsu has been co-producing each their pieces with The Théâtre de la Ville at Paris, once in 2 years for more than 30 years from 1982, has been having international tour in each year.
As almost same time as it, Natsu Nakajima (1943～) started her career abroad from Edinburgh Festival in England 1983, and continued international tour until 1987.And until almost 1990, she had work abroad. Then she was awarded of choreograph at Montreal in Canada, in U.S.A. She was also an important pupil of Hijikata until 1968. She has been continuing her original Butoh, and improvisation class for handicapped people until today.
In these way Butoh have been also known for many countries widely during this period. And these current of Butoh had almost corresponded to Peter Brook(1925～) and Lindsay Kemp(1938～), or Theatre du Soleil by Ariane Mnouchkine(1939～), Living Theater by Julian Beck(1925～1985), Jerzy Grotowski(1933～1999), Tadeusz Kanttor (1915～1990).
And afterward from the 1990s, Butoh festivals have been holding in some place in towns of foreign countries, for example San Francisco in U.S.A., Göttingen(base town
of butoh dancer Tadashi Endo1947～) and Berlin in Germany, Seoul in Korea, Vancouver in Canada, Paris in France, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Gdansk in Poland, New York, London, Budapest, Amsterdam, etc. These are amazing.
By the way, in Japanese history, modern time started in 1868. Because American government asked our country (The Tokugawa government) to open the country to supply provision for whaling, and rescue of boat people. Until the time for 235 years, Japanese government which by Samurai class had closed our country. After that opening, new modern government missioned over sea's students to England, France and Germany.
So, since the term we Japanese wish to absorb especially European culture, and in the air some Japanese representable modern dancers went to Germany to study Neue Tanz as mentioned, for example Takaya Eguchi (1900～1977), Misako Miya (1907～2009), Nobutoshi Tsuda(1910～1984). And most original founder of modern dance in Japan Baku Ishii (1900～1977) went to Germany and U.S.A. to have his shows with his sister in law Konami Ishii (1905～1978).
And some foreign ballet teachers had been called or came to our country, before and after World WarⅡ. Then also in Japan we feel that real popular modern time for the arts and life started after the World WarⅡ.Because we had to experience a lot of changing Japanese society and mentality. And during this period, American cultural center introduced American modern dance: Martha Graham-technique to Tokyo, Amagatsu and Ikeda had learned it before starting butoh career, so they were younger than Butoh founders.
Then also I should tell about French modern Mime by Etienne Decroux(1898～1991), that was brought by Hironobu Oikawa(1924～) to Japan in the middle of 1950s. He learned Ballet and the Mime in Paris for 2years, and came back to Japan, and established studio Artaud-kan (maison) in Tokyo. Because he has been respecting Antonin Artaud (1896～1948) from many sides, since he knew Artaud in France. After his coming back to Tokyo, he sometimes joined Hijikata, Ohno(s), Ishii. And Kasai learned the mime from Oikawa’s disciple.
Add to it, before this term, Kazuo Ohno was so touched by Mime of Jean-Louis Barrault (1910～1994) in the movie “Les enfants du Paradis” in 1952, this movie became to be famous in Japan after the war too. Then he repeated to look it many times. And it became to be also well known that Barrault studied Mime from Decoroux.
Although story changes, in postwar time Japanese had surprising rush of publication, because people had been very starving for the arts and culture during the war. In these streams, surrealism, heterodox literature and many kinds of art from West including some underground ones, were earnestly introduced to people, then also Hijikata himself could reach them in the 1950s. And especially after Hijikata’s coming Tokyo from Akita where is his home town in northern Japan, some intellectuals around him could make Hijikata know many things above. In them, most important intellectual was Shūzō Takiguchi(1903～1979) who had been trying to introduce Surrealism to Japan since in the 1930s.
Then surrealism brought Sigmund Freud's notion of unconscious of body and mind to our country, even though Japanese have this kind of resemble notion in our traditional culture. Anyway, Freud became famous during this period in Japan, because of this publishing rush. We feel that Hijikata absorbed all these influences, with floating the air of time. As a result, in Butoh we have many kinds of aesthetic sense wildly, and unconscious of body and mind.
Now, I’d like to show you some films of Hijikata. These are masterpieces of Butoh of the early time, and which pieces were from 1968 to 1973. So, please allow the poor condition of these films.
*explanation for Film
(This is a film in 1973, Hijikata’s last dance on stage, he was 45 years old, and special guest dancer for the piece of Dairakudakan. But after stopping his dance on stage, he’d been continuing to choreograph for his pupils, for example including Moe Yamamoto-1953～-until the eve of his death, even Hijikata had break period for Butoh several times from 1979 to 1982)
The image of this scene was about emperor Heliogabaws of Roman tyrant inspired from a novel of Antonin Artaud, the title of novel was "Heliogabaws the crowned anarchist". And another novel influenced from this one by Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (1928～1987) was entitled “Youbutsu-shintan", then Dairakdakan quoted this Sibusawa’s Japanese title as title of the piece in 1973.
In high light scene of this Dairakudakan’s piece, Hijikata took the role of Heliogabaws, but the image of the figure and moving were so delicate and surrealistic, also looked as if the special existence that is out of this world.
ROSE DANCE(HIJIKATA & KAZUO OHNO) in 1965©EIKOH HOSOE
Then the scene was little mixed an image of Adolf Hitler's situation. On the least pretext of this, another man who was Bishop Yamada in military uniform, having a pistol in his right hand, appearing from his head to the upper part of body from under floorboards on stage, in front of the Tyrant. Although he was turning his back to the Tyrant, and shot 2dummy cartridges to audience, he wore an image of assassin to Hitler. But in the next scene, the assassin became to be naked, and seemed to become a lover of the tyrant on bed, as if the tyrant let the man change into his lover. In this scene audience could hear very beautiful and calm western classic music.
In this kind of homosexual and heretical, un-heard of the scene, Hijikata had been influenced by heterodox literature and following atheistic and avant-gard thought that he loved in those days, for example Jean Genet, Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, Edgar Allan Poe, Surrealism, Antonin Artaud and so on. And he took many images from many kinds of heterodox pictures, paintings, photographs, art pieces. Lastly please look hanging transparent board from the ceiling behind their bed. We can look a fake design of Marcel Duchamp’s picture on it.
And the story dates back, the most famous festal Hijikata’s solo piece in 1968, the title was "Tatsumi Hijikata and Japanese", and sub-title was "Rebellion (Revolt) of Body". Main contents of the piece were eroticism and violence with nuance of social taboo. On the days of performance, a white horse bounded on pole of the gate greeted visitors (audience) at out of theater, and in the hall, starting time of performance was related more than 40mins, so in noisy situation Hijikata appeared on palanquin made of baby bed supported by several young men.
The palanquin was in a solemn parade called “parade of ridiculous king”, leaded by a rabbit on the top of high pole, being carried by young man, and not only the pole and palanquin but also other stage art was made by contemporary artist Natsuyuki Nakanishi. Then Nakanishi hanged 6 big brass boards(1.2mX2.4m) from the ceiling for the stage, and 2 chickens suspended upside down. Later during performance these 2chickens were thrown against each board by Hijikata.
Then after he took off his Japanese white thin kimono, he did dance very hardly with tying an art piece formed penis made by contemporary artist Nori Doi(1955～) on his crotch, then next he wore red kimono in short style, and as same time as wore white high socks, holding something like a grass in his month, he did dance in the very original way of artistic, comical, stylish in the most high-level movement of body. And did alike Spanish style’s dance in another big dress of western style, keeping dignified, excessive strong expression of his original postures and looking to audience with opening his eyes wide.
Anyway, fascinating dances with strong sense of eroticism and violence, but simultaneously so absorbed in unique and sensitive feelings were there. And at last he was hanged by 3ropes under the ceiling, it was also up in the air of audience, to let his body transfer from backyard of audience to front, it looked like the Ascension.
We think he’d had wish to be a Christ in darkness under-ground. He’d been having always Charisma. In this year of 1968, also Japanese had the biggest political movement after the war by students in universities, and at the same time, as other many kinds of political movements occurred around the world in those days. Hijikata’s this performance looked a feast at the time.
And next is Hijikata’s this film from " Hōsōtan" in 1972, the meaning of this title "a story of small pox". In the piece dancer’s bodies curved and disfigured, close to an image of death and disease. Those bodies were named SUIJAKU-TAI by Hijikata. The meaning of it is weaken or wasted body.
Later I’ll explain about the meaning of SUIJAKU-TAI in more details again, those posture and movements of body were so low center of gravity and very complexed, looks strange, but based on the law of universal gravitation. In addition, those bodies were very cultivated by honed of sensitivity, and moved each part of divided body apart to different direction with including transformational mode of material from raw body, involving unexpected timing of each body part’s moving. Although also from the beginning of butoh, he had many similar contents like them, including low center of gravity. However, his choreograph had much development in detail and for low position of bodies since this term.
I think that their butoh body with the law of universal gravitation shows an incarnation of universal providence. That’s to say that the body concept was beyond human being, nationality, folk customs. Therefor their performances were accepted by many countries, as sacred one.
Then I’d like to say that Hijikata’s aim of this kind of choreograph was not only giving
audience shocking of original bodies, but also extension of aesthetics as the art, furthermore, sensibility his choreograph that make body and mind of audience be cultivated. And basically I think low center of gravity also make dancers be able to open the door of feeling and cultivating their sensibility of all body. Anyway, this kind of approach for body is an opposite intention to classic Ballet. On the contrary, resemble case of Hijikata’s is choreograph by Pina Bausch. Hijikata’s Butoh is not same as Bausch’s, but common denominator had come from same root of German expressional dance. Their important are low center of gravity, and sensitivity of body, and memory of body and mind.
Then from more large view, Hijikata always had been having a sort of reverse the sense of values, this point is particularly important to analyze for their nature of avant-garde, that means trial to express of new values, being against common sense.
By the way, about these shocking body of Butoh, some foreigners thought "it's a direct influence from Atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Nagasaki", however for Hijikata, it wasn’t the answer. Hijikata was influenced from aesthetics of Surrealism, heretical art, and add to his childhood experience and observation of deformed body from famine, poverty, hard work of farming, shivering and freezing with cold in snow, diseases that were smallpox, Hansen’s disease, syphilis, and so on, in his village of Tohoku-region, in Northern part of Japan, when he was a boy. These bodies were SUIJAKU-TAI by Hijikata, but later I’ll add another explanation of SUIJAKU-TAI to above mentioned.
And another important point here is, even if you find our traditional clothes kimono in Butoh, it doesn't mean that Butoh is Japanese traditional, kimono sometimes expresses our memories of previous time.
Then in addition to this point of kimono, I’d like to refer to Dairakudakan too. This company is the most strong, large in Japan even now. The company’s name means big camel ship. And the leader of this is Akaji Maro as mentioned before. We could say his chaotic image is similar in Julian Beak of Living theater, and their way of creation by cooperation was basically like the Teatre du Soleilr, especially in their early time of company.
Maro’s father was vice-captain of a big famous battleship during the World WarⅡ, and he died as a soldier. Maro might have not only great pride for his father as his son, but also might have an endless vanity and nihilism, because his father died for old Japanese sense of value. Then the value was lost after the war. Now only occasionally we wear kimono, but Maro likes good old Japanese sense, it might be also related to his deep love for his father, and adoration for old Japanese feeling. I think that’s the reason that we often look kimono and traditional Japanese culture in Dairakudakan's spectacle. On other hand, dancers had left Dairakudakan almost until in the 1980s were born in the postwar days, then they had rebellious sprit for elder Japanese.
Besides of them, Min Tanaka(1945～) proposed “body weather” in 1978. At the first he had learned Japanese modern dance, then started his original dance “Butai” in 1973, and next started to tour of “Hyper dance project 1977” at more than 150 places not on formal stage in Japan. During the performances he looked as if a white naked objet. And next he had improvisation with Jazz musician at Paris in 1978, inner same project as Yoko Ashikawa, although he performed not as butoh in those time as mentioned. But later Hijikata helped Tanaka’s basic performance as butoh in 1984. Then he has been living at farming village with farm life since 1985, as he had hoped to be so, when he was a boy in town. Maro is 2 years elder than Tanaka, but they’ve been looking a worthy rival in Butoh for long time. But recently Tanaka doesn’t call himself butoh dancer, neither dancer, nor actor. He said himself just Min Tanaka.
Now here, I really go back to the body of Hijikata forward to conclusion. However before starting it, please remember European history, there was Dadaism before Surrealism. The aesthetics of body and pieces of Hijikata’s transition was like them. The first piece of Butoh in1959, Hijikata dealt with homosexuality very quietly, in blown voice and whisper of love. But he let Yoshito Ohno squeeze a chicken between his thighs as a symbol of eroticism and death. Hijikata also had used to have some rehearsals with running chickens in studios.
Then in 1963 he had performance entitled "Anma" which had a nuance of happening. In this piece some dancers ran, then they shouldered and threw their bodies each other, this piece leaned to the side of Dadaism, too. And in the piece, dancers were white painted very rough and thickly, therefor they also seem to be Objets. The concept of Objet started in surrealism, and Objet means body which let people be in wonder and shock. The bodies as "Objet" doesn't let people feel raw body no longer, and besides, slow speed of Butoh can lead people to be a kind of unconscious, in trance. In short, these kinds of mixed cultural situation of Dadaism and Surrealism, notion of Freud, happening, exactly showed the rush of surging waves of western culture in the postwar period in Japan.
And in the last of 1960s, also Hijikata said to Yoko Ashikawa and people around him "The body of Butoh is standing corpse" and "many corpses are walking on a ride". Hjikata might had looked many weak, lean, stiff and wasted bodies when he was almost 3 or 4 years old, at his village located in northern Japan, where people had been suffering of terrible hunger by so special cold summers. In those days breeding of rice was not enough in the cold summer. In addition, farmer's bodies for cropping rice were very warped and drawn by half-sitting posture.
TATSUMI HIJIKATA in 1970©EIKOH HOSOE
The other side, Hijikata also said, looking people on the street of Tokyo, in the last of 1960s, "They are all dead people, many corpses are walking on street". That is to say I think that corpse for Hijikata didn't mean only real corpses or just weaken, stiffen bodies dying death, he looked also at another image of corpse living in the world, not vivid, not alive, manipulated by something around them, not concentrated, not felt enough by themselves.
After all, he probably could touch the layer of our existence itself through his body, where dying traumata made by repression of deep emotions, then these had changed into distortions, rigidities, warps in our body. I think when Hijikata had his famous solo piece "Rebellion (Revolt) of body" in 1968, passing his moment of Dadaism, although the piece was based on concept of rebellion(revolt), but the piece had double images, one is of a great festival of a mad king, even if in the final part of this piece he was raised to the sky like Christ, and another symbolic image was the biggest political uprising after the war.
More in detail of this piece, Hijikata’s body always seemed to have both side of living and dying. In other words, even in this most powerful impressed piece with so strong taste of eroticism and violence, his body had many beautiful stiff postures probably let audience touch their deep sensitivity for border of conscious and unconscious, influenced by the inner sense of suffocated, repressed, and painful experience.
The body concept which always concludes this kind of death part in it, was formed into his original enchanting style of Butoh. And many butoh dancers after Hijiikata, for example younger founding members of Dairakudakan were really fascinated with this piece. (Although the body of Dirakudakan was made by them in another original way.)
And, thus body concept of butoh with having life and death part in it, is not only resemble to relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, but also more wider view of relationship between darkness and light on Butoh stage. I mean here this darkness is Ankokou that almost equal to social taboo, that is always repressed into our body and mind. For example, Ankoku’s side has violence, eroticism, homosexuality (in those days), madness, on the other’s side has from the middle territory of general, normal, common sense, to the most upper territory of light and God. Hijikata had wished to extend of human nature for butoh, to extreme both sides on Butoh stage. And Hijikata’s Ankoku was tied with Avant-garde.
However, in the 1970s, Hijikata’s stage world had changed to next tendency of Yami (Shade) from Ankoku. In English this 2words were contained in a word of Darkness, but in Japanese these have different each nuance, clearly. Anyway in 1972 as mentioned, Hijikata had big series of 5pieces for a month. And this time he dealt with deeper unconscious world with his memory of birth village including folklore.
Since this series, Hijikata’s pieces contained more painful, pitiable darkness, Hijikata named it Yami (Shade), although each people lived each life having each glance there. Hijikata’s butoh world had developed into not only his memories of famine, strict nature, cruel farmer work, but also small pox, Hansen's disease, syphilis, sorrow of woman who should had been married with madman by a reason, who cannot be married for being dirtied her record by someone, standing souls of soldiers who lost their bodies in the battlefield, and horses also danced by dancer’s bodies in low center of gravity, mixed taste of metamorphose of material of body itself.
In a word, Hijikata’s Yami(Shade) had certain connection with image of metamorphose of dancer’s bodies choreographed by him. Ankoku has nuance of strong and clear, distinct impression, but Yami has impression of not being able to look clearly, poorly lighted. People can understand Ankoku is social taboo, then another feeling for Yami is like that people might be able to guess there is something, but not be able to look them definite, because of by social, familial, individual repression.
Add to it, I think Yami had also relationship to memory that people would like to forget, repress, because there were too much difficult and disconsolate situations under great violence by nature or financial situation, and militarism by our government during the last war, and so on. In this meaning, Yami is also the outside of our every day’s normal life.
And I must repeat for Hijjikata’s body concept touching to Yami was SUIJAKU-TAI. In the1970s people became forgetful memory of the war, and to enjoy new life. Maybe this is the reason that Hijikata took up Yami for his creation, Yami of Japan, his village life in boy’s time, and more individual life scene around him in past including related the time of the last war. I guess he didn’t want to be forgotten Yami by people.
We can look the contrast of Yami and divine, for example in the climax of “Hōsōtan” in 1972. He used French traditional folk song (“Bailero” in “Chants d’Auvergne” composed by Canteloube) by woman's spiritual and beautiful voice sounds image of Maria, in the voice he played most impressed SUIJAKU-TAI as like a Geisha, quoted from (Dai-)Yūfu: (the boss of )handsome woman in Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s Ukiyo-e, losing life for disease.
In most poor time before the war, not a few young women from Northern Japan became Geishas, or Jorōs (Japanese traditional prostitute), other workers in towns for paying off debt of family caused by famine or some economic reasons. And under the similar situation, not a few young men became to be soldiers for saving provision in their families and village. Although this kind of situation was looked more or less anywhere in Japan in those days. Hijikata also might lose his brother and sister in this term. And Hijkata also played role of Christ crucified on Japanese traditional storm door in 1972.
Near the birth place of Hijikata, which locates in northern region of Japan, there was outrageous legend of Christ. In 1935, when Hijikata was 7 years old, a founder of new religion came to Aomori where is neighbor prefecture of Akita is birth place of Hijikata,
and said that Christ had come from Golgotha, passing Siberia to northern Japan, and he died here. Then also today there is a grave as Christ’s. Hijikata maybe be influenced by this contemporary legend.
Anyway since 1972, SUIJAKU-TAI which means weaken, wasted or disease’s bodies, were often shown on his stage. However, those surrealistic bodies mixed Japanese racial attitude, posture, gesture were not only generated by his personal experience and memory, but he also referred to many international surrealistic or avant-garde or other paintings, photographs, art pieces. These were for example Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, William Turner, Marcel Duchmp, Hans Bellmer, Aubrey Beardsley, Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, Edvard Munch, Pan(faun)of Nizhinskiy, Japanese Ukiyo(e), and so on. And he also referred bodies of handicapped people too.
From early time of the1970s, Hijikata started “NOTATION OF BUTOH(BUTOH-FU)”, which is sketch book scrapped many kinds of copies, above mentioned paintings, printings and art pieces, with poetic words for choreograph. BUTOH-FU was used to let students understand very subtle and delicate or strange image of body with including image of metamorphose of body as material by Hijikata’s choreograph.
In 1976 his choreograph had reached climax in this way, the piece of climaxed was solo piece “Hitogata” that means figure. It was danced by his most important pupil Yoko Ashikawa. We could guess that this piece was offered from his bottom of heart to his sister or other women who were in similar situation, who had to emigrate to distant town, for helping their family in difficult time of family finance. Someone heard this kind of women occasionally died without marring, because of being disease in distant town, or south foreign country.
We don’t know about real relationship of his sister and the principal in “Hitogata”, but the principal has big scab which might look suffering from for example syphilis－this interpretation by Nario Goda who is the most elder critic for butoh since “Kinjiki”－, and the scab was made of Japanese traditional so beautiful ornamental hairpins, on her head. Hiijikata loved his sister or other women in similar case, because they were sometimes grate sacrifice for each family.
You can see his eternal wish to make the most pitiful and sorrowful people change to the most divine being by artistic way of Butoh, although their figures were sometime strange and ugly on stage. Anyway, we feel that Hijikata had a wish of hatching out the most miserable and painful parts of ourselves depressed in Yami, to the most divine beauty on butoh stage.
Lastly I’d like to say that butoh was not influenced by atomic bomb directly, however influenced by darkness of both Ankoku and Yami, including so painful and difficult complexed memories before, during, after World WarⅡ, in the dawn of the history. And I’d like to say for international Butoh, of course dancers and choreographers don’t need to be Japanese, victims by atomic bomb, neither.
However, if new generation could refer some contents from the way of creating the body and piece of Butoh in the term of origin, this is my great pleasure. Because there were so strong power for creating new genre that’s Butoh, or amazing power of creation itself. Butoh has many sides of matters, but especially for Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno who were main dancers in the time of dawn of Butoh, cultivating feeling of body and mind for digging each memory related with each existence was important. Or I should say that they had strong desire for expression and creation at the first. Then they had to cultivate their body and mind for digging each importance, each creation.
And they were always interested in international, heretical, contemporary art and art sprit, also thought and literature. Then I think also matters of social and international issues of each time were absorbed through their experiences as memories of their bodies and minds.
I could to talk about butoh all night long, but I had to finish it now, thank you very much for your attention.
＊Hiromi HARADA（原田広美）：Dance critic, a member of Japanese Society for Dance Research, Psycho-therapist(Gestalt therapy), person for workshop
Books: “Butoh Taizen” (『舞踏大全～暗黒と光の王国』現代書館)in 2004.
”Kokusai(International) Contemporary dance” (『国際コンテンポラリー・ダンス～新しい〈身体と舞踊〉の歴史』現代書館) in 2016, both published by Gendai-shokan
(you can see the books also in the web site of amazon U.K.)
＊And I was student of Suehiro Tanemura(種村季弘1933～2004) who named “Rebellion (Revolt) of Body” for Hijikata through criticism of photo exhibition Kamaitachi（『鎌鼬』） by Eikoh Hosoe （細江英公）in 1968, and editor of “Tatsumi Hijikata’s complete work (for writing)” (『土方巽全集』河出書房新社) in 1998, 2005, 2016, Germany literary person, translator for Sacher Masoch “Venus im Pelz”, and so on.
*And I’m very sorry that I couldn’t write many butoh dancer’s names who had relation with dawn of Butoh, for example, Akiko Motofuji, Issou Miura, Sumako Koseki, Yuko Yuki, Isamu Ohsuka, Sanae Hiruta, Tetsuro Tamura, Anzu Furukawa, Ebis Torii, Mutsuko Tanaka, Teru Goi, Masaki Iwana, Kan Katsura, Mitsuyo Uesugi, Minoru Hideshima, Goro Namerikawa, Uno Man, Masami Yurabe, Tenko Ima, Kuritaro, Masahide Ohmori, Yasuhiko Takeuchi, Jousaku Sugita, Setsuko Yamada, Daisuke Yoshimoto, Shigeya Mori, Nobuo Harada, Shouich Fukushi, Atsushi Takenouchi, Takuya Ishide, Seisaku, Kayo Mikami (dancer & scholar, written by her book “The Body as Vessel” published by Ozaru Books in U.K. 2016), and so on. And next generation are many in the world.
*other recommended books are following
“HIJIKATA TATSUMI’S NOTATIONAL BUTOH～AN INNOVATIONAL METHOD FOR BUTOH VREATION” by MORISHITATAKASHI, KEIOU NIVERSITY ART CENTER TOKYOin 2015
“BUTOH～Shades of Darkness” by Jean Viala, Nourit Nasson-Sekine, SHUFUNOTOMO CO. , LTD 1988 (You can buy Mikami’s and Viala, Sekine’s in Amazon U.K., 2nd is in Japan, too)
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