Costume & Lack Thereof (Updated: 9/21/17)

“The dancer’s costume is to wear the universe.” – Kazuo Ohno

Though white is a commonly portrayed color in butoh (for costume and skin color), any color or lack thereof may be used. In Tatsumi Hijikata’s earlier pieces (1957 to 1961) such as Forbidden Colors, black was actually the color of choice for the body.¹

Some productions make great use of costumes, some more elaborate than others, while others are more stripped down, reminiscent of Jerzy Grotowski’s ideal of body focus alone or minimalism.² Rhizome Lee’s Infectuous Fever piece was completely naked and without body color.

An important note about the costume (or mask) is that we shall consider not relying on them 100% for expression or embodiment, unless we have already embodied the qualia within ourselves. This is the same case with expression of emotion. The real dancer underneath is not to be lost.


¹ Armitsu, Michio, From Voodoo to Butoh. MOMA. 2014.
² Grotowski, Jerzy, Eugenio Barba, and Peter Brook. Towards a Poor Theatre. , 1975. Print.