Guest Writer|Claire the Creator
Honestly, I’m just at the tip of the ice burg.
I recently attended a Butoh workshop. I’ve been so curious about Butoh and what the intent of the dancers are. I learned a lot more about the history of Butoh and the techniques behind it. But even after the hour and a half workshop (and I was told by my teacher that typical Butoh classes range from 3 to 5 hours), I felt like I got just the tiniest drop of what Butoh really is.
One thing our teacher, Caroline, explained was the fact that Butoh comes in many forms. Caroline explained in such a clear way how the form was developed from the accumulation of the after math of WWII: the bombing of the island, the return of soldiers from a difficult war, the American occupation, etc. All these changes happened on one, tiny island. Butoh came from these changes, mixing traditional Japanese dance with Western modern dance to express what had happened to Japan. And in the beginning, it was quite dark. The form has now developed and segmented into different directions.
That segmentation is evident in the costuming as well:
The American occupation of Japan also had a strong influence on the form, not just in technique, but in costume as well:
It’s not surprising that Butoh has trickled into fashion as well, most recently seen in Givenchy’s 2011 Spring collection, a combination of Butoh style and Japanese robot toy:
One very interesting fact that Caroline told us was the purpose of white face/body paint. She described it as a clearing out of the ego. So is it ironic that it’s being used in the fashion sense? Can fashion exist without ego?
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