The Concept of Butoh in Italy

From Ohno Kazuo to Kasai Akira

Authored by: Maria Pia D’Orazi

The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138691094
eBook ISBN: 9781315536132
Adobe ISBN:


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Butoh in Italy has passed through three stages since it was first introduced to the country in 1980: An early period of aesthetic seduction, when Butoh began to spread to Italy in the eighties and was seen as a totally new vision of a bodily reality; an era in the nineties when Japanese dancers began to teach their own personal methods and techniques in Italy and original Italian books came out; and finally a third stage, starting in 2000 and still ongoing, that introduced the possibility of creating an Italian butoh by developing the teachings of Japanese dancers. The history and landscape of butoh in Italy are wide and varied, but in this essay, I will focus on three particularly influential Japanese founders. The first of these is Ohno Kazuo, who toured Italy in 1983, and gave the first butoh workshop at Rome’s “La Sapienza” University in 1986. The second is Iwana Masaki, who gave a series of extensive workshops in Rome starting with that of Theatre La Comunità in 1991. And the last is Kasai Akira, who gave his first workshop in Rome in 1998. In particular, Ohno’s presence ignited curiosity about butoh’s originating principles and his way of dancing became the model of a style based on improvisation. Iwana brought with him a precise training system, dispensing with the false mythology of improvisation and concentrating his attention on the dancer’s physical preparation. And Kasai questioned all the acquired certainties and set the ground for a new Italian beginning.

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