3rd Tri-national Festival Butoh Off

01 - 19 November 2014

Butoh is an avant-garde performance art form which originated in the late 1950s in Japan. It started as a rebellion and indignation to excessive western influence and the establishment in Japan at the time. Grotesque images of destruction, death and deformity revealed the beauty of the dark side of the human soul which became known as Ankoko Butoh or Dance of Darkness, formalized by its founding fathers Tatsumi Hijikata in dialogue and collaboration with Kazuo Ono. They pushed the body beyond the limitations of modern dance, rejected the western ideals of beauty and explored the austere archetypal forms and gestures of ancient Japan. Their choreography directly confronted the reality of the human condition, and sought “the body on the edge of crisis” - the body being in constant state of change, reduced to a single corpse of spirit where self-imposed boundaries are overcome and the body is set afire to discover its mystery in search of the alchemy of movement. It is always “ about to be born” and that is where its energy comes from.

Butoh is timeless and universal with its methods and philosophy. It has attracted diverse audiences all over the world and has transformed dance. It has the power to touch every human being telling the human drama that begins with birth and continues till death.

« a dance which is preconceived, and created in order to be shown, is of no interest to me. The dance has to be absurd... The human body from the moment of its birth is being trained to become domesticated and to respond fittingly to the specific social structures. In order for the dance to fulfil itself and to be true, these deeply rooted structures must be radically eradicated." »

That is how the predecessor of Ankoku Butoh or Dance of Darkness, Tatsumi Hijikata, taught.

Whether we explore the Self through words, images, music or movement, we symbolically offer the others our vision and statement about what and who we are. We help define and shape the collective ideals by undertaking this honest journey into ourselves.
This festival is a perfect occasion to present to and expose the public to Japanese Butoh dance and newer contemporary forms of Butoh dance of today with second and third generation Butoh dancers such as Masaki Iwana as well as with younger dancers from the international dance community. It is also an occasion to stimulate and encourage the public interest in such productions and all related art forms. Our festival brings foreign Butoh teachers to Freiburg, Basel, Strasbourg communities to educate the public and to advance the appreciation of the art forms by means of the presentation of Butoh theatrical performances, recitals, film screenings, workshops and other events.