Rediscovering Butoh

A few years back I was at an international bazaar at a nearby university. There were all sorts of things going on – people having their names written in katakana, girls giving and getting henna tattoos, volunteers painting the Korean flag on attendees’ cheeks. There was also a stage, where folk dance demonstrations occurred throughout the event. Somewhere between the katakana and the god-awful paisley henna tattoos (I was younger then!) I ended up at that stage just as an exhibition was beginning.


Even now I can’t remember if the person was man or woman. At the time I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was a person at all. Each movement was terrifying, tiny jerks and bobs the way a marionette would move. Eyes, blank. Mouth, wide open. Skin, bone white. It terrified me in a way that I didn’t know I could be terrified.


Around me, the people kept moving on.

It was bizarre.

Anyhow, I just happened upon the style of dance and it’s as uncanny and horrifying as I remembered it.

Here, enjoy.


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