Emptying the body

I took Butoh classes with Emiko Agatsuma, a 20 year member of the company Dairakudakan. Dairakudakan was created by Maro Akaji who made up a word to describe his idea of Butoh, temputenshiki, which he translates as “being born in the world is a great talent itself.”  In this series, Emiko thought us three Butoh methods by Maro Akaji.

EMPTY BODY of consciousness, you fill it in with water and let your imagination (of the water) move you without intention. The water is inside you, water is the people around you, the space below your feet, between your fingers, your toes, behind you and above you, you are surrounded with water, waves, storms, or just a quiet ocean. You are affected by your environment. You do not exist. You are simply the receptacle for another entity, a beast, a Coronavirus, a woman devoured by jealousy, a Japanese ancient monster.

IGATA (mold body) uses powerful imagery and fiction to break into the extraordinary world. The dancer is empty of their consciousness, possessed by something bigger than them, it takes over, expresses itself through the dancer’s body, then disappears slowly without leaving a trace. It was not the dancer, they do not remember what happened, they are not accountable.

SPACE BODY is bigger than you, bigger than your bone structure, the space is carried as a fragile moment, everything frozen in time. Slowly carrying an image from one point to the other the shape between one’s legs, the form of one’s arm, the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere, the weight of a monster’s body, the tension of predator life. You carry preciously your imagination through space, no leaks, no loss in intensity, no consciousness.

I spent the summer talking and thinking about the power of imagination, the stories that can only become accessible because we are able to imagine them. Not all stories are accessible to all, I heard once. I also spent the past 5 years stuck looking for ways to make my visual art and dance practices meet. In the Dance school I was attending, they were dancing and only that, and in the visual arts places I was learning, they were visualizing and just that. I wanted a possibility where both could meet and how would that look like. Butoh certainly had one answer, one creative way out.

Photo/Video credit: Emiko Agatsuma

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