BUTOH - THE ART OF INTEGRITY
Butoh is a form of both physical and psychological training, and an intriguing way to perform. While being shockingly, perhaps even humorously anarchic, it is also holily traditional to the point of being ritualistic. Butoh can remind us of archaic, ancient tunes, colours, and reverberations of the past, which we cannot quite put into words, but which touch our own inner landscape. Still, Butoh is very concrete. The body is always concrete, never abstract. In Butoh, experience and body, not shape or aesthetic agreement, make up the fundamentals of training and performing. The body itself is extremely influential and enriched with experiences. In Butoh, we find experiences during which we cannot but be amazed by our own resilience, diversity, and strength, each being born from our own starting point.
What is essential in Butoh is that the need to prove something or verify one’s existence subsides. Additionally, the hunger to maintain this feeling of existence with a constant flow of feedback and stimuli abates. Butoh as a form of training and performing can provide this soothing experience to its experiencers. Humans are extremely hungry for stimuli, and society responds to this hunger in many ways. It is therefore healthy and healing to get a break from this flood of stimuli and learn that, even if the self is not constantly being re-enforced against the noisy outer world, you do not disappear. Butoh is a skill that enables us to see things in a calmer and clearer way by listening to our inner wisdom using the body and mind. Butoh is silence and stillness, movement of presence, and laughter of acceptance.
Butoh provides experiences and streams of thought which can support the positive side of daily life, strengthening integrity and well-being. A person’s relationship to the world starts with oneself, and Butoh’s acceptance towards responsibility prepares us for the world through integral experience. The relationship with oneself and the world can become less contradictory, and while responsibility towards oneself grows, understanding of one’s survival strengthens.
Butoh as a humanity resembles a way of life or philosophy, or it can be perceived as a principle or attitude towards things, movement, existence, or art. One principle of Butoh is to provide a method of approaching people and living things, without being a norm or a system. In my opinion, the only thing Butoh can demand from a person is knowledge of oneself, which gives birth to responsibility of life and honesty. What factors could be more important in art, or in life?
Butoh as an art of integrity is one that manages to unite its doer, its receiver, and society, nurturing the (collective) soul. It is one path for psychological growth. Butoh and Butoh dancers aim for this by growing towards clarity, harmony, and beauty, approaching life’s many facets without criticism. Butoh as performance or practice can contribute to a person’s self-image in a positive way, helping to build an integral individual.
Health is a flowing state, not a fixed definition, and so-called good and bad matters and toils are part of human life. Nevertheless, throughout one’s whole life a person can feel or experience that he or she is a healthy, living, integral individual.
It is this cleansed state of being, existence, true self and moment towards which the Butoh dancer moves and transforms. Butoh gives us the opportunity to pursue this experience and allows it to affect our lives. Butoh does not need to stop when we pause from practice. This is part of Butoh’s integral, healing, and energizing power. Osku Leinonen 2012