Some thoughts about dance, body and cultural contexts



 As Tadashi Uchino explains, the construction of critical bodies was produced in Japan during the 60’s-70’s as an expression of angura’s movement led by artists like Tatsumi Hijikata. The idea of critical bodies with traditional archetypes initiated by Butoh has progressed a lot during this last thirty or forty years, and it is far away from the cliché that initially inspired the West: nude white painted bodies, bald heads, white eyes…etc. Some Japanese artists decided to search new ways and exercises, and the repercussion of the new connections proposed is now in process. This makes it difficult to assess its course since these new connections were liberated from the stereotypes created in the first contact that Butoh created in the West. Today, if we observe the rests of the angura‘s movement, one can observe a phenomenon maybe attached to cultural migrations. The sense of mainly political matters evoked by creators in the sixties has changed relating to the context switch. Consequently, new meanings and new ways of seeing and thinking body and art have been created.

Inevitably, talking about dance relates to the body and its presence. This matter may interest to everyone who works on studies of body and art, philosophy or communication, or even historians of science and medicine. According to Kuryama Shigehisha, body presence is not something that one can only find inside the body. Talking about body presence is talking about perception as well. The state of mind is not separated and is not different from the body state. The brain is a part of the body and it is inside it, where the environment flow of information is organized and modified. In this sense, the body presence is related to everything that happens inside the body, invisible, and everything that happens outside of the body, visible.

In the present globalized context where the intercultural dialogue and nomadic life are present, I ask myself : what kind of impact exists as a result of the incorporation of body perspectives created from the artistic practices in Japanese contemporary dance into the thinking and dance practice in Western cultural contexts? What identity shapes are emerging in certain bodies while dancing and being observed? The proposal is a  research with the aim to discover new readings on the universality of dance and body language, and maybe new answers on dichotomies like: mind-body, theory-practice, individual-society, and consequently, expanding the category of what we call dance.

Author Zoe Balasch, 2013