Cover image for Dancing into darkness : Butoh, Zen, and Japan
Dancing into darkness : Butoh, Zen, and Japan
Fraleigh, Sondra Horton, 1939-
Publication Information:
Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press ; [London?] : Dance Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 272 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1783.2.B87 F73 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Dancing Into Darkness is Sondra Horton Fraleigh's chronological diary of her deepening understanding of and appreciation for this art form, as she moves from a position of aesthetic response as an audience member to that of assimilation as a student. As a student of Zen and butoh, Fraleigh witnesses her own artistic and personal transformation through essays, poems, interviews, and reflections spanning twelve years of study, much of it in Japan. Numerous performance photographs and original calligraphy by Fraleigh's Zen teacher Shodo Akane illuminate her words.

The pieces of Dancing Into Darkness cross boundaries, just as butoh anticipates a growing global amalgamation. "Butoh is not an aesthetic movement grafted onto Western dance, " Fraleigh concludes, "and Western dance may be more Eastern than we have been able to see. "

Author Notes

Sondra Horton Fraleigh chairs the Department of Dance at the State University of New York, Brockport.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

"Butoh"--an avant-garde dance form--began in Japan in 1959 with a work titled Forbidden Colors, choreographed by Hijikata Tatsumi. Hijikata's view of the world was rural and nostalgic--he moved to Tokyo from the remote northern region known as Tohoku. Hijikata arrived in Tokyo like a country bumpkin with a funny dialect often ridiculed by urbanites. Taboo eroticism, death, illicit desire, and pain quickly became the subjects of his dances. He fashioned the jarring subject matter of his art to reflect the foreigner he felt he was. Fraleigh (SUNY, Brockport) tries to expand the accepted context for understanding Hijikata and his Butoh legacy by documenting her own experiences as a student and drawing on her understanding of Zen Buddhism. Her writing takes the form of a personal journey through a complex and foreign form of performance. In places--such as in her essentialist assertion that certain strands of both Butoh and Western modern dance grew out of a search for a primal instinctual self--Fraleigh resurrects notions of dance largely abandoned by dance scholars. But if one reads this book as a personal journey, as it was intended, problems like these fall away. For large general and undergraduate collections supporting world dance. C. Martin; New York University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: The Difference the Other Makesp. 1
Forgotten Garden: Natsu Nakajima's Performance in Montrealp. 45
The Marble Bath: Ryokan in Takayamap. 55
My Mother: Kazuo Ohno's Class in Yokohamap. 57
Shibui and the Sublime: Sankai Juku's Performance in Torontop. 65
My Mother's Face: Natsu Nakajima's Workshop in Torontop. 87
Shards: Saburo Teshigawara's Performance in Torontop. 97
Empty Land: Natsu Nakajima's Performance in New Yorkp. 104
American Mother and Shinto: In Ohno Villagep. 117
Liebe: Susanne Linke and Toru Iwashitap. 124
Beginner's Body: Yoko Ashikawa's Class in Tokyop. 139
Tree: Min Tanaka's Choreography in Tokyop. 151
Amazing Grace: Kazuo Ohno's Performance in Yokohamap. 158
Hot Spring: In Hakone Yumotop. 163
The Waters of Life: Kazuo Ohno's Workshop in Yokohamap. 164
How I Got the Name "Bright Road Friend": With Zen Teacher Shodo Akane in Tsuchiurap. 166
The Existential Answer: Interview with Butoh Critic Nario Goda in Tokyop. 171
Hokohtai, the Walking Body: Yoko Ashikawa's Performance in New Yorkp. 177
Dance and Zen, Kyo Ikiru: With Zen Teacher Shodo Akane in Tokyop. 180
Prose and Haiku on Japanp. 186
Post-Butoh Chalk: Annamirl van der Pluijm's Performance in Montrealp. 195
Dust and Breath: Sankai Juku's Performance in Torontop. 199
The Hanging Body: Joan Laage's Performance in Brockport, New Yorkp. 209
Zen and Wabi-Sabi Taste: Setsuko Yamada's Performance in Torontop. 214
The Community Body: Akira Kasai and Yumiko Yoshiokap. 228
Notesp. 251
Selected Bibliographyp. 261
Indexp. 265