The butoh beat


Theatre Flamingo is organising an intensive two-day online workshop titled ‘Introduction to Butoh’ with Mexican artiste Guyphytsy Aldalai beginning September 5. NT BUZZ learns more about the Japanese dance theatre art form


Born in Japan in the 1950s, butoh is said to be an attempt to recover the dance that already exists; that must emerge from within and not be imposed from without. 

And now Goans can get a chance to learn more about this dance theatre technique as Theatre Flamingo which has been instrumental in promoting experimental theatre in Goa for the last four years, is organising an intensive online workshop on this art form beginning September 5. Titled ‘Introduction to Butoh’, the session will be conducted by Mexican artiste Guyphytsy Aldalai who has been into this art form for over a decade now. “I started my butoh practice around 11 years ago, taking some workshops, researching, and reading about it. At that time access to teachers, festivals or essays was not easy. Since then, I have embarked on a long and mysterious journey around butoh,” she says. Over the years, she has worked with butoh masters like Rhea Volji, Atsushi Takenouch, Minako Seki, Sankai Juku and Natsu Nakajima. In 2017, she also directed the first edition of ‘Mares/Encuentros en Danza Buho’, a butoh dance festival in Mexico, which is now a popular independently-run biennial festival. 

“For me, butoh is a different way to approach the world and the reality we live in. It is a way to listen. It is not only related to dance or performance. It’s to ‘be’ on its potential state. It’s to be silence, not make silence,” explains Aldalai, adding that the art form is an art of exploration and investigation on states of being of all kinds. “It’s at the same time violence and love, rock and water, child and grandmother, full and empty, liver and blood, shadow and prayer; emptiness, vessel, ancestor memory, the potency of life and death, the potency of eroticism.”

According to Aldalai, butoh and its approach and treatment to the body can be included in any other practice to enrich the creative process and research.

“It is a very fertile place from which to investigate regardless of your practice, your career, or work. It seems to me that diverse rivers converge in this great sea that is butoh. It accommodates all bodies, all ages, and has immeasurable creative potential,” she says.

And the upcoming workshop will focus on two aspects. The first is the basic training that seeks to share tools at a technical level. “Here we will work with butoh basic exercises and other movement techniques. The other aspect focuses on composition. These are exploration exercises directed with choreographic objectives that explore different images, sensations, and forms.

“The objective is to share the basics of butoh and my practice so that participants can incorporate some of these elements into their work,” says Aldalai.

Although she has shown her pieces and led workshops in US, Argentina, Columbia, and Mexico, the artiste has not been to India yet but believes that there seems to be a good interest for this art form in the country.

“I have some knowledge of a wide butoh community in Dharamshala, Kolkata, and Delhi which leads me to think that people are interested in this art form and invested in butoh. We also had a very powerful response to the workshop. Many people have registered, which reveals the high interest of people about butoh,” she says. She is thus glad that the online medium is giving her an opportunity to reach out to more people all around. “It has been an opportunity to inhabit a new place, it gives me a moment to be in this ‘present’, I have found a lot of potential in online classes and also many difficulties. But with time I found new and creative ways to communicate, to transfer the information and create an experience together, as well as connect with people and teachers around the world,” she says. “However, I firmly believe in the ‘experience of the flesh’, the touch, the possibilities of transforming a space as a collective, as a community.”

(The workshop will be held on Zoom on September 5 and 6, 6 p.m. to 8 pm (IST) . Details: 9637058935/