What do you consider Butoh to be - a form, a movement, a method, something else? How do you define it?


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I think that depends on how it is being used. Some people approach it as a form, some as a method for excavating movement, etc. I think it can be many things, the question is, what is the definition in service of? Calling something Butoh can be very useful for the sake of marketing a performance - we need and like to know what things "are". But if we already know what something is when we set about to creating it, how can we expect to discover anything new?
I really like Oprah's answer in that I think it relates to all truly inovative and non-stagnant forms of art. In my opinion, she is right in stating that

"if we already know what something is when we set about to creating it, how can we expect to discover anything new"

Thus, I believe, butoh does no need to be defined as it is beyond definition and no one true form can be assigned to it. Each individual shines a new aspect to butoh as it is never the same for anyone. Butoh is a personal "form" in a way.

of all the choices you offer, i think the one term i would probably avoid is a 'form,' except insomuch as 'form' relates to 'method'... there's something static about that term -- and it also calls to mind what i think is a mistaken preoccupation with mimicking forms in many butoh performances i've seen...

though i use that term all the time w/respect to butoh... (and since paradox feels native to the domain of butoh, i'm fine with that contradiction...!) 

i like both of the previous replies... the question of what "the definition is in service of" is crucial... Butoh's training methods are very protean, and so are its performative manifestations...

my answer to the question is/will also be protean... 

but what comes to mind is Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous quote on the legal definition of porn, to the effect of, I can't definitively define it but "I know it when I see it" :) 

In my limited experience with butoh, I've come to think of it as far less of a form, movement, or method than it is a phenomenon.  (Under the right conditions - in my experience usually hot, oppressive ones - butoh emerges... in many different forms, through many different movements, and by many different methods.)

 

On another hand, I heard Katsura Kan speak at the Seattle Butoh Festival in June; he told a story about a man who observed one of Katsura Kan's performances and afterward said it made him feel "itchy inside."  This seems characteristic of most - if not all - butoh I've seen.  Therefore, to build on Irene's idea that butoh is something you can't define, but usually know it when you see it, I would say that I usually know butoh when I FEEL it.

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