Balance (Upd: Mar 30, ’21)

Cultivating body balance is essential in order to have a ready-for-anything approach to butoh.

Balance image schema diagram by Aleksander Szwedek

According to Contemporary Metaphor Theory, BALANCE is an image schema that

provides an understanding of physical or metaphorical counteracting forces based on a prototypical schema consisting of countervailing forces acting on a target that is a: “(1) point; (2) line; (3) plane and is based in bodily experience, such as maintaining (1) erect posture; (2) normal bodily states such as temperature; (3) may be applied metaphorically to provide an understanding of other experiences, such as balance of the visual field with respect to art.”¹

Image schemas to Lakoff and Johnson are “recurrent patterns in perceptual-motor experience that derive from our bodily interaction with the physical world.”² Like so many other image schemas, we are bombarded with this balance schema at all moments of our lives.

Losing your balance (which is always excellent to resonate with) is a form of DIVERSION image schema, which involves forces that physically or metaphorically meet and produce a change of direction.”³ We must learn how to live with not being in balance, especially since a primary metaphor is BEING IN CONTROL IS BEING IN PHYSICAL BALANCE.Can we de/reconstruct this?

Exercise 1: One Leg Blindfold

With closed eyes or with a blindfold, balance on one leg (or do the yoga tree pose) for as long as you can. Also try single leg shuffling. Spin once or twice then stand on one leg. Dance the single leg. Then dance the whole body while on the single leg.

Exercise 2: Cup of Water

Ash walk while holding a cup of water. Make sure the water has the most minimal movement.

Exercise 3: Tea Bag

Ash walk while holding the end of a tea bag. Make sure the tea bag does not swing as best as you can.

Exercise 4: Rock on Head

Ash walk while balancing a rock on your head.

Exercise 5: Post-Spin

Turn in place as fast as you can for some time. Then stop. Do not lose your balance. Do not be effected by your vision nor the equilibrium properties of the inner ear. Enter into ash walk.

Exercise 6: Stick

Hold a 30 cm stick or ruler on the palm of your hand. Focus on the top. The objective is to keep the stick as straight as possible with very limited movement. If there is movement, your body compensates. Resonate with your body movements.

Exercise 7: Kea Tonetti’s Multiple Rock Balancing Walk

This exercise is for outside in nature and was shown in one of Özerk Sonat Pamir’s classes.* One participant has arms out in front (whether bent or not; not bent is obviously more tiring). Another participant will put as many tiny rocks on any surface of the person one an find. The person with all the rocks will be walking slowly trying to make sure no rocks fall. At the same time, the rocks keep bering placed on the body of the walker.


¹ SIL Glossary of Linguistic Terms. Balance Schema. 2020.
² Johnson, Mark (1987). The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason, University of Chicago.
³ SIL Glossary of Linguistic Terms. Diversion Schema. 2020.
Forceville, Charles. (2017). From image schema to metaphor in discourse: The FORCE schemas in animation films. Page 16.
* Butoh Lantern course at Tiyatro Medresesi in Sirince, Turkey, March, 2021.