Jo-Ha-Kyu (Updated: 11/13/17)

The soul of butoh is not really about form, but individual essence or story, especially if pulled from the subconscious (subbody). Essentially, the Japanese words Jo-Ha-Kyu involve the three major parts of a story–beginning (thesis), middle (antithesis), and end (synthesis). For instance, in Tatsumi Hijikata’s Bugs Walk, we begin with the simple awareness of the situation and a single bug (Jo), then bugs gradually infiltrate till there is nothing left but bugs (Ha), then there is a resurrection (Kyu). Jo is often small due to serving as a trigger, while Ha is quite often very involved, and Kyu also small. Small, however, does not mean less intense, just an initiation or wrap-up. Because of this, it is not unheard of to hear of Jo-Ha-Ha-Ha-…Kyu.

Note: There can be a Jo-Ha-Kyu within the entire span of a piece or there can be a Jo-Ha-Kyu within one qualia, one among several Jo-Ha-Kyus.

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