Masaki Iwana – Butoh Master/Artist/Film Director

Extract from Masaki Iwana writings on Butoh Blanc (White Butoh) available on and in the artist’s book.

Workshop: Fringe Lab -Dublin 2

26th of June: 12-4pm

27th to 29th of June: 4-8pm

contact & bookings:


My White Butoh is not intended as an antithesis to ‘ankoku butoh’ (black butoh or the dance of darkness) of Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of butoh. Rather, by using the word ‘white’ I stress the philosophical advocacy of ankoku butoh: a butoh dancer must completely expose the ‘darkness of his own existence.’ In this interpretation, I amplify it and assert that such exposure should be so complete that it comes under the ‘white sun’, meaning a perfectly clear and cloudless light.

Almost all modern dances in Western countries, or worldwide, are ‘created’ with the basic method of first clarifying a concept and then collecting and arranging dancers’ external movements and forms to realize that concept. In contrast, one of butoh’s largest characteristics is to produce – or more accurately, ‘give birth to’ – dances by guilding and drawing out the ‘dance’ already immanent in the dancer’s body (this ‘dance’ may be referred to as ‘original experience’; the word ‘inner landscape’ is often used in the butoh world). As a result, some butoh dances do not involve specific or phenomenological forms and movements as their basic element.

Butoh dancers have always referred to the body with that immanent ‘original landscape’ (‘dance’) as ‘nikutai’, to be distinguished from the physical body, or flesh, as a biological entity. To realize ‘nikutai’, a butoh dancer must recognize and amass personal experiences, memories and bodily habits; and since butoh is an art of expression, he must also have the ability to ‘montage’ those personal elements.

Difficulties butoh dancers are often faced with are related to the difficulties of realizing ‘nikutai’. Difficulties, or sometimes misunderstandings, on the part of butoh audiences, on the other hand, lie in their common sense, with which they seek to see ‘nikutai’ with the immanent ‘inner landscape’ only as a visible object, or as specific and phenomenological forms and movements. White Butoh’s thrust, however, is to go to the very bottom of the essence of butoh which is prior to forms and movements; namely, to pursue the realities of life. It goes without saying that it is not an easy task.

– September 1989 / La Maison du Butoh Blanc