Butoh in Brazil

Historical context and political reenactment

Authored by: Christine Greiner

The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138691094
eBook ISBN: 9781315536132
Adobe ISBN:


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Although traditional Japanese theaters have always exerted great fascination among us in Brazil, nothing compares to the impact of butoh. Ohno Kazuo arrived in São Paulo for the first time in 1986 and presented Admiring La Argentina, The Dead Sea, and My Mother. These performances moved the audience and many artists changed their concepts of dance, despite the difficulties of researching butoh outside Japan. In Brazil, just secondary sources were available – a few books and articles written by foreign scholars (mainly from the United States and France), and terrible copies of video performances. According to the flyer of the first tour of Ohno Kazuo in São Paulo and Buenos Aires, Ohno himself was the creator of butoh dance, and the name of Hijikata Tatsumi never came up. Therefore, it took some time for artists and researchers to get in touch with more details about the butoh history and training. Between the late 1970s and the 1990s, Brazilian artists moved to Yokohama to study with Ohno, integrating a circuit that transformed Ohno into a guru. After 2000, inspired by films, texts, and photographs, both Japanese and Brazilian dancers started offering workshops of their own version of butoh, without any specific training. At the same time, there was a philosophical reenactment looking for new paths, beyond stereotypes. In other words, we can conclude that butoh history in Brazil inspired a complex genealogy of questions about an imaginary Japan, dancing bodies, exotic images, but also about ourselves and our power of collective change.

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