very good question, yet within the world of butoka-s (butoh dancers) the question is similar to someone asking what is life? Well, I am not gonna try to sum up here the possible answers, instead going with the experience and its description. In this way of writing, you will see, sooner or later, that conceptualization and description although sisters, were born from different mothers.
Up until today, nobody managed to compress the meaning of “ankoku butō” (暗黒舞踏) into a solid definition. This might have been the fortune for this dance granting its continuous change and aliveness, at the same time the effort of positioning it within the grand archives of dance history does interfere with this fortune. You see, there is something with its abysmal nature, which avoids grasping the logic we attribute to the rational mind. Ankoku butō is an unfinished process and one without a clear beginning. If it has a form it emerges from the immaterial, the one that doesn’t perish. Ankoku butō is to borrow your body while you are looking for a dance with your movements. It is embedded in seeing reality, working with perception, with hearing, taste, smell, vision, and touch, it is to find ways to be moved in genuine ways, it is to find honesty within the discursive mind, and honesty that will be raw, but not cruel, raw and yet, gentle with what is alive.
Ankoku butō could be told like this: you are awake, and yet the world seems sleeping, you walk among others while movements are soaked in dreams. While you are sleeping butō is still awake, it never needs to rest as it is transforming from one state to the other in the blink of an eye. You are looking for the echo of ankoku (shadow) in light because that gives form to movements, and the dance.
I once woke up to a dance happening in my body. From that moment on, I knew I was alive.
Written by RhythmosNoir