For this performance that dates from 1972, Hijikata gives us to see a primitive body that draws its energies in the hollow of its belly and, slowly, emerges from nothingness to access self-awareness.
Tatsumi Hijikata (1928 - 1986) was a Japanese choreographer, and the founder of a genre of dance performance art called Butoh. By the late 1960s, he had begun to develop this dance form, which is highly choreographed with stylized gestures drawn from his childhood memories of his northern Japan home. It is this style which is most often associated with Butoh by Westerners.
He moved to Tokyo permanently in 1952, the year in which the American Occupation of Japan ended. He claims to have initially survived as a petty criminal through acts of burglary and robbery, but as he was known to embellish details of his life, it is not clear how much his account can be trusted. At the time, he studied tap, jazz, flamenco, ballet and German expressionist dance (Nobutoshi Tsuda). He undertook his first Ankoku Butoh performance, "Kinjiki", in 1959. In 1962, he and his partner Motofuji Akiko established a dance studio, Asbestos Hall, in the Meguro district of Tokyo.
Hijikata conceived of Ankoku Butoh from its origins as an outlaw form of dance-art, and as constituting the negation of all existing forms of Japanese dance. Inspired by the criminality of the French novelist Jean Genet, Hijikata wrote manifestoes of his emergent dance form with such as titles as 'To Prison'. His dance would be one of corporeal extremity and transmutation, driven by an obsession with death, and imbued with an implicit repudiation of contemporary society and media power.
Especially at the end of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Hijikata undertook collaborations with filmmakers, photographers, urban architects and visual artists as an essential element of his approach to choreography's intersections with other art forms.
Source: Research Center for the Arts and Arts Administration, Keio University