Although Butoh is often viewed as Japan’s equivalent of modern dance, in actuality it has little to do with the rational principles of modernism. Butoh is a theater of improvisation which places the personal experiences of the dancer on center-stage. The dancer is used as a medium to his or her inner life, but not for the portrayal of day to day existence. A Dionysian dance of nudity, eroticism, and sexuality, Butoh’s scale of expression ranges from meditative tenderness to excessive grotesqueness. By reestablishing the ancient Japanese connection of dance, music, and masks, and by recalling the Buddhist death dances of rural Japan, Butoh incorporates much traditional theater. At the same time, it is a movement of resistance against the abandonment of traditional culture to a highly organized consumer-oriented society. An alliance of tradition and rebellion, Butoh is one of the most fascinating underground dance movements. “Butoh: Body on the Edge of Crisis” is a visually striking film portrait shot on location in Japan with the participation of the major Butoh choreographers and their companies.
Directed by Michael Blackwood (2005)