Society for Cultural Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
This presentation is based on research into the oral history and physical practice of the movement method for Ankoku Butoh (butoh), a performance style spearheaded by Hijikata Tatsumi from the 1960s to the 1980s in Japan. Specifically, I focus on the life experiences and movement philosophies of Hijikata's students, who danced with him in the 1970s, when his method was developed the most. This development of butoh can be called a resistance of the flesh to Japanese society and its modernization as well as Western styles of dance; the present practice is a collaboration on an international scale to understand Hijikata's method now, since he has passed away in 1986.
My interviews with these aging dancers seek to understand the transformations that are fundamental to their movement, and my fieldwork on their practice and transmission of this method asks how the affect of their physicality and oral instruction can possibly bring about transformation in the observer or dancer. I have found that when they currently attempt to transmit the method of Hijikata's butoh, the quality of their movement and the verbal imagery in their words act as a physical force upon the bodies which are attempting to move in the butoh mode. In this process, ideally, dance is not choreography to be copied but is a contingent becoming, an absolute bodying. From this analysis, I hope to consider how the affect in imagination, sensation, and meaning-making through movement shape behavior and, ultimately, identity.