“Every act of the body is an act of the soul.” – William Aflred10
Dance as if there were only bones and joints. Lose as much of the muscle control factor that is possible. Bone dance may be of similar qualia as puppet on strings dance.
With de/reterritorialized bones, we form bones (or calcification) where there originally is not in the human. This can appear naturally within the rigor mortis stage of death and so is a form of stone/statue resonance. This can also take the form of the exoskeleton of animals.
Here is a list of Hijikata’s butoh-fu that has mention of bone, the majority translated from Waguri:²
(1) Sleep Walker; (2) The Nerve Walk; (3) Michaux’s Ink Bottle; (4) Auschwitz Walk; (5) Gaki, The Hungry Demon; (6) Sick Dancing Princess (Ch. 1);6 (7) Unidentified Jean Fautrier Painting;7 (8) Goya—Pope of Pus;8 (9) Flamen Matiere.9
Maximize your awareness of joints and move them like padlocks. Also be aware of joints that have very little movement such as feet joints or wrist joints, the hidden joints, e.g. the intermetacarpal joints and the intercarpal joints, see Figure 1.
Upper & Lower Extremity Deep Initiation Points
For the upper and lower extremities, instead of initiating from the shoulder or hip, one can go much deeper and initiate from the sternoclavicular joint for the upper extremity and the sacroiliac joint for the lower extremity. In this way, the extremities will be both less disembodied and possessing wider ranges.
When we engage in de/reterritorialized joints, we create joints where there aren’t any in the human body. This must obviously take some imagination, but can substantially enrichen movement dynamic.
Contract and relax as many muscles in the body as you can. Exaggerate the degree of muscle use with every movement. You may even gather inspiration from the movements of body builders at a competition. Also make use of muscle twitch. Experimentation with the muscles will eventually lead to experimentation with pulsation, shock, and freeze.
Large exterior muscles are for large movement, whereas deeper and smaller muscles are for more subtle movements such as twisting, standing (psoas), and fine motor movement. We are to be aware of all our muscles.
Any form of formerly known strength conditioning is encouraged so long as it does not result in restriction of body flexibility. Many butoh practices automatically will provide strength such as any form of crawling. The following are recommended exercises.
When we de/reterritorialize muscles, we shift the function/location of the muscle, e.g. muscles have found their way into the emotional channel, so an emotion flexes.
Exercise 1: Tree Hugging & Tree Climbing
Bear hug a tree like a koala bear but with all your might and then pull up with your entire body as if you are trying to uproot the tree. Hold the position until you no longer can (muscular failure). A variation involves also hugging the tree with your legs. You can simply just climb different kinds of trees. Enter into becoming-monkey.
Exercise 2: Lizard/Crawls
Locomotion with the movements of a lizard (close to the ground) is great conditioning for many muscle groups. Crawls are already planks taken to the next level. For more on quadrupedal movement, see
Exercise 3: Locomoting Bridge
Once enough strength is cultivated to keep a bridge (a backbend on all fours), you can locomote. Increase difficulty by walking in the X pattern (see section walks) and changing density such as into Ash Walk.
Exercise 4: Heavy Rock Partner
If you have a heavy rock or something similar heavy item, this is your new dance partner smoothly and gracefully. Resonate with multiple muscles.
Exercise 5: Sentient Muscles
Quoted from Susanna Klein’s book Premodern and Postmodern influences of Ankoku Buto:
“It is as though each fiber of the muscles has its own selfish autonomy and shudders violently as it pleases. It is not some kata that cries or is sad, it is the muscles themselves that are crying. The will does not move the muscles, the muscles themselves have their own will.”5
“When one part moves, the body as a whole responds. Functionally, the only tissue that can mediate such responsiveness is the connective tissue.” – Feitis & Schultz11
The fascia is a net-like system surrounding all of the muscles. When you extend/constrict/stretch your body in certain ways, you can feel the fascia.
Exercise: Extension/The Healing Televangelist
One example of feeling the fascia includes extending your arms while pulling up on the hand to show the palms. If you feel a dull pain along the entire arm, this is the fascia being stretched. You can feel this with your entire body. Try an outstretched dance where you are constantly feeling this. Example qualia-world: You are a televangelist preacher. Extend the arms out with palms pulled back and try to heal everything and everybody around you.
The skin is the outer covering of your container. Do not hesitate to use touch in some form or other, which does not need to be the hands.
The de/reterritorialized skin is the hidden skin. One of the hidden skins is what Rhizome Lee calls the placenta layer. This is similar if not the same as the subtle body in eastern anatomy.¹ The hidden skin can extend far beyond the proximity of our person, but can fill the entire space and out into the world.
Tatsumi Hijikata makes heavy use of the qualia of nerves in his butoh-fu. Here is a list of his butoh-fu that contain the qualia, the majority translated from Waguri:²
(1) Plum Tree and Flower; (2) Flower Nerves; (3) Wild Flower; (4) Hanako Basked In Light From Behind Her; (5) The Choir Girls; (6) The Blind Girl; (7) Prince of Smoke; (8) World of Abyss; (9) Walking Just As Pure Measurement;4 (10) Various Places; (11) World of Birds and Beasts; (12) Tsuru, The Japanese Crane; (13) Strange Man With Frog On His Head; (14) Sleep Walker; (15) A Strange Neurotic; (16) From The Forest To The Swamp; (17) The Strange Prince; (18) The Appearance Of The God Maya Made Of Nerves; (19) The Nerve Walk; (20) See Through The Crystal; (21) One Finger; (22) Michaux’s Ink Bottle; (23) World Of The Neurology Ward; (24) Mescaline; (25) Thin Wall of Pus Shining In White; (26) Gaki, The Hungry Demon; (27) Flowers In The Wall; (28) A Flower Is Stuck On The Mirror; (29) Quiet House³; (30) Beardsley No. 1 Thru 4.4