Tanaka Min

The dance of life

Authored by: Zack Fuller

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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Tanaka Min is an innovator in international contemporary dance who has extended the legacy of the radical experiments of the avant-garde dance movements of the 1960s into an experimental practice unlike that of any other major dancer/choreographer. He has performed thousands of improvised outdoor solo dances. His training methods have been disseminated around the world, including such places as Denmark, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. His version of The Rite of Spring (Haru no saiten) was featured in the film Butoh: Body on the Edge of Crisis, his collaboration with avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor and his solo performances in Indonesia have been the subject of feature-length documentaries, and he is an award-winner film actor. In the Czech Republic he retains the status of an avant-garde hero, having risked imprisonment to perform secretly in communist Prague. The French Ministry of Culture awarded him the title of Chevalier des arts et lettres in 1990. He has collaborated with writers such as Felix Guattari and Susan Sontag, and visual artists such as Giulio Turcatto, Murakami Takashi, and Noriyuki Haraguchi. The musicians and composers he has worked with represent a wide variety of different styles of twentieth century music, and include the free-jazz percussion-ist Milford Graves, the multi-instrumentalist noise musician Haino Keiji, Velvet Underground founder John Cale, and the composer Iannis Xenakis. He is a unique figure in the dance world in that each aspect of his dance practice (improvised dance, training, and choreographic methodology) is informed by his daily life as an organic vegetable farmer. While it is impossible to do justice to such an incredibly prolific and mercurial artist in an essay of this length, I will here clarify certain aspects of his praxis, with an overview of his career highlighting some of his major contributions to dance in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

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