Butoh Jam (Updated: 02/17/19)

Vishal Choudhary at a butoh jam at Himalaya Subbody Butoh

A butoh jam is an event where participants come together to freely engage in butoh. The jams can happen in any variety of spaces inside or outside.

Generally, there is music accompaniment such as live musician(s), DJ(s), or MC(s). Otherwise, the participants themselves can improvise music/sound despite there being no instruments in the traditional sense. Doors, wooden floor, human vocals, hands, chairs can all become instruments in their own right.

Music/sound however is not a hard and fast rule. Butoh jams at Himalaya Subbody Butoh, for instance, have hosted butoh jams composed of DJ with video art screening, but also ones in complete silence and pitch darkness.

Sometimes there are props or even art supplies in the space. In this way, they can resemble performance art jams.

As with ecstatic dance events, it is highly recommended to set a rule of no talking during the event in order to encourage everyone’s internal process. Butoh jams have also occurred under the moniker “ecstatic butoh,” emphasizing play or release of creative energy, regardless of how “pretty” or “beautiful” it looks, which are a tendency of ecstatic dance events.*

The concept of butoh jam is embedded into the guiding method at Himalaya Subbody. Often, during the last portion of class, the space opens up into Free Resonance Theater (FRT) generally with audience at one particular space. “FRT” and “butoh jam” are interchangeable terms.

At Ex…it! Butoh Festival ’15, spontaneous short-lived flash butoh jams occurred in random spaces such as the cafeteria.

In the butoh jam, we may see audience/performer integration take place which is also associated with some performance art. The audience at any moment may join and what would have been seen as performance may the next minute be spectatorship. We can call the breaking of the performer/observer dichotomy perforbserver or spectactor.


* The label “ecstatic butoh” has been used at Himalaya Subbody Butoh in Dharamsala, India and Cultural Center “Nektan Art” in Belgrade, Serbia.