Dancing the Space

Butoh and Body Weather as training for ecological consciousness

Authored by: Rosemary Candelario

The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138234581
eBook ISBN: 9781315306551
Adobe ISBN:


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Japanese experimental dancer Min Tanaka famously said, “I don’t dance in the space, I dance the space” (Candelario 2018, 45). The statement’s removal of a preposition, just two small letters, results in a profound reordering of the relationship between bodies and spaces that has both philosophical and ecological implications: philosophical in the sense that Tanaka proposes both a theory and practice of dancing that requires a new conception of how dancing connects bodies and space, and ecological because I believe the application of this theory and practice beyond dance training and performance could affect discursive and perhaps even day-to-day shifts in how humans relate to their environment. This chapter asks: How can we understand what it means to dance the space? How does one learn to dance the space? What are the implications of this kind of practice on how we understand space and our relationship to it? Can dance training actually double as training for developing an alternative relationship between humans and their environment? As a way of addressing these questions, I discuss my ethnographic research at two dance training workshops: SU-EN’s Butoh Summer Camp in wooded rural Sweden in 2015 and Frank van de Ven’s Body Weather-based Body/Landscape workshop in the mountains of the Basque Country in 2013.

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