“Butoh is revolution, guiding beyond concept and ego. Butoh is the expansion or depth behind everyday life”

Sati is a facilitator of Resonant Subbody Butoh. A student of Rhizome Lee, she has worked collaborating with Ten Pen Chii (Germany with Yumiko Yoshioka), 14th Bak tun (Canada with Gessuri Gaitan). Recently, The Alliance Francaise du Bengale, Subbody Butoh School, "Katha' Kali"& The Arshinagar Project organized "Resonating" with Kali & The Sick Dancing Princess - a performance by a group of contemporary Butoh artists from Subbody Butoh School & Janardan Ghosh.

 What attracted you to delve deep into Butoh?

Just life had guided me. I was looking for a chance to dance in different way, not contemporary. But I didn't know about Butoh before. I was traveling in India, stayed quite long at Dharamshala. Just before leaving the city, I went to a Butoh festival organized by Subbody Butoh foundation; where I belong to now. I joined half-day workshop and immediately fell in love with this mysterious dance form. Actually it has no form, but also infinite form. Also at the beginning I felt a deep connection with H.H Dalai Lama's teaching which was about life connection from past to present life, in my understanding. It is still difficult to get his teaching with my actual life. Anyway, I was always curious about the invisible life connection with strangers who I never met before, but somehow made me feel in deep connection beyond nationality, sexuality and any form of existence.  With Butoh exploring I got some clues. It's RESONANCE and TRANSFORMATION from being to being. I dance the life resonance and transformation beyond human concept, idea and thoughts. So we enter into a different realm from daily thinking mode to subconscious mode with different awareness, we call this awareness, ‘transparent eyes’. It is not easy to explain all this through language, but there is something invisible, which makes me alive and connected to a hidden, abandoned self, or being from modern society. It is also connected to my background, which is familiar with sprit or shamanism in Korea and Japan. India also has this spiritual beauty. I have felt deeply while in India that our Butoh tour was resonating with the local culture, artists, and stories.

What attracted me into Butoh? Just I fell in love with it without knowing any reasons. Feeling it connected me to other or past lives. Embracing all my hidden shadows, which are not really dark or bad, just forgotten by modern society. I see a different balance in between darkness and brightness. There is no wrong or right, no good or bad and no beauty or ugliness. It is just very organic and alive resonance, life to life.

It seems Butoh eludes definition - it’s not quite a style or practice of improvisational dance, but it’s more than just a state of mind. How do you define Butoh?

I haven't been able to define it. I probably never will. Actually, one of my favorite Butoh masters feels he is still exploring about what is Butoh. I totally respect that. If there is a concrete concept of Butoh, for me, it’s not Butoh anymore. I believe that our souls want to come and go spontaneously, but a social human concept, everyday life does not allow for this freedom. Butoh is the revolution, guiding beyond concept and ego. Butoh is the expansion or depth behind everyday life. We see ourselves through a mirror which is reflective of the images which are seen from outside, by others. Butoh is behind the mirror. Also, generally, we think we move, do, act with own will, but actually our life is moved by something or someone. All circumstances from inside as well as outside of ourselves make up the phenomenon of experience.

Being moved, created by resonance, this is Butoh for me, for now. Everything is changeable. I'm the new generation of Butoh. I'm exploring toward more openness, vulnerability, and acceptance. Especially in Subbody Butoh there is no border between body and mind. Subbody means subconscious body and subtle body. With various conditioning techniques we enter into subbody. Here, body and mind are oneness, so a ‘state of mind’ does not exist. Butoh is improvisation by soul or unknown life forces. We are developing a very unique way of dance improvisation. To resonate with each cell of the body, we develop slowness, lots of body controllability. There are specific ways to train and to have resonance with hidden bodies, such as weakness, disability and sickness.

 How do you see the influence of Butoh on contemporary dance?

For me, in contemporary dance or art, there are huge and deep roots of judgment, in particular the concept of beauty and duality. I see some clear directions in contemporary (dance), whatever they head to. Butoh is multi dimensional and breaks all borders. I see the lack of space for our souls. I see limited space in the darkness or unknown world. If there is limit of darkness, it means the limit of brightness, too. For me, darkness is not just black, it's unknown, the depth of the abyss. Also black darkness is so beautiful, normal society pushes us to hide it, but there it beauty there. We embrace the shadow to be life itself, recovering pure life as oneness. Once I joined a contemporary dance class and I shared Butoh attributes with them, the way of Butoh movements and their resonance. After class the other participants said, they felt as a sense of the organic and something pure and ecstatic, encountering their own dance from their own life, which nobody else can imitate. Butoh emerged against modern western dance, like the salmon moves against the flow of the river.

photo courstey - Antigone Kourakou
There are very few schools in the world and there is no traditional or set way to learn Butoh. What are your views regarding this?

I don't know if the word 'traditional' is proper with Butoh or not, because Butoh is the revolution itself, beyond all borders. Even some masters who were students of Butoh founder, Hijikata, guide Butoh to different ways. One time when I joined a Yumiko Yoshioka workshop in Germany, it was only for 10 days, which is common for Butoh workshops, maximum 3 weeks, I felt it was too short a time to integrate through my body and life. I asked if I could continue to learn more. I felt desperate. I was lucky because I was able to join her production for several weeks and I saw growth within myself. That's why many people visit this Subbody Butoh school. There are very few chances to learn Butoh over a long term anywhere in the world. I have been 5 years with this school. After finishing a 2-year course, I asked myself, "Are you ready to leave?” "Definitely, not!" And so I continued (Butoh) school during every summer either in Europe or Canada, exploring to get different flows of Butoh.  Each master has a different approach and I appreciate these diverse gateways very much. I think this is the essence Butoh.

 How was your experience in Kolkata?

It was a very unexpected experience, like Butoh. If Butoh satisfies the audience's expectation, it's not Butoh. With my first step in Kolkata, I felt the unknown beauty within this city, the air, the people, etc., and a beautiful co-existence between old and new. Most of all, the local artists were amazing musicians, actors, dancers, all widely open, flexible, with full power and a very centered energy. Incredible resonance! Feeling so comfortable with them. Audiences are very open and ready to embrace a new art, Butoh. Especially here in Kali I have found this open exploration is ongoing. I feel a deep connection and something essential to my own life history here, something in-between destroying and protecting or creating. The time has not been long enough to explore Kali’s Butoh potential. Already I'm thinking of coming back to Kolkata, organizing a longer Butoh project and a new collaboration with local artists. I would say, I'm already sensing that I will miss Kolkata from my all cells, more so than I can express. Cells that resonate with the time and space: sending warm deep life resonance, breath of life.

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