June 2015 archive

How to understand Butoh Notation (Butoh-fu) of Tatsumi Hijikata – Screening / lecture by Yukio Waguri (Japan)

29 JULY 2015 | 19:00
Studio 2 Mime Centrum, 2d floor (stairs on the right side),
Kunstquartier Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin
Free entrance

BUTOH-FU are words/sentences first used by the Master Tatsumi Hijikata to stimulate dancers movement while choreographing and that became a unique method for choreography. Waguri, the disciple of Hijikata, kept notes of his teacher and after his death developed Butoh-fu and continues to use it as a method for choreography and teaching. In 1998, Waguri published a Butoh book with CD-ROM titled Butoh Kaden, which unveils the essence of Hijikata’s Butoh notation and choreographic methods.

Butoh-fu texts may sound poetic, but each word represents a specific dance form, movement, and relationship between the body and the space.








Like Smoke Like Ash, Butoh performance by Natsu Nakajima

The Japanese characters for ‘smoke’ (煙) and ‘ash’(灰), both contain the character of ‘fire’(火). It is as though they etymologically recall their material origin in fire, and visually indicate themselves as the next stage of transformation in the ‘life of fire.’ Hijikata would often tell his disciples to become ‘disappearing things, appearing things.’ ‘Disappearance,’ for him, meant more than simple self-erasure; it contained the element of something else. This structure of containment, with one thing harboring the possibility of another, might be termed a kind of ‘compound.’ Just like the ‘charcoal’ (火種) hidden in the embers of a dying fire. This is the way I learned to live and dance from Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo; it is the way I have danced my entire life. In the brief encounter of one night, a lasting message might be fleetingly passed from an old generation to a new, like the ‘life’ of a firework in the early evening. With this dance, I pray and pass a flower to those who have already gone.

Spring 2014, Nakajima Natsu

Butoh Masters in Berlin: Yukio Waguri

Butoh Channel Berlin is honoured to present 2 Butoh Masters in Berlin. On the 29th and 30th of July 2015, Natsu Nakajima and Yukio Waguri will give workshops and lecture (find the information here). The short but intensive program will end up with a Butoh-fu performance by Macoto Inagawa, a student of Yukio Waguri.


This post is dedicated to Yukio Waguri  (b. 1952). He was the principle male dancer at Tatsumi Hijikata’s Asbestos-Kan from 1972 to 1978. From this period, he kept notes of the words Hijikata spoke in order to stimulate dancers movement while choreographing. These words are called Butoh-fu, a unique method for choreography. Waguri has made his own interpretation of these words and continues to use them as a method for his own choreography and teaching. Over the past 37 years he has taught and choreographed around the world. When choreographing and teaching, his focus is on transforming oneself to become imagery rather than depicting abstract movement. The manner of Waguri’s dance is often said to be as solid as crystal, lithe and smart as a leopard, subtle and fine as a willow; his works are tightly choreographed rather than improvisational and he often employs the Butoh-fu learned from Tatsumi Hijikata. In 1998, Waguri published a Butoh book with CD-ROM titled Butoh Kaden, which unveils the essence of Hijikata’s Butoh notation and choreographic methods. Waguri is the Artistic Director of the Kohzensha Butoh Company.

We are glad to share with you an interview with Yukio Waguri, kindly provided by Dominique Baron-Bonarjee, and an article written by Hofan, in which she shares her experiences at Waguri’s workshop.

by Dominique Baron-Bonarjee