Amagatsu speaks

Annemarie Lack “A Dialogue with Gravity” tokyo weekender*1 Novemeber 2017, pp.34-35


While Amagatsu's style of butoh still has much in common with the original style[of the first generation], he is quick to point out that, as a second-generation artist, his subject matter differs to those of the first-generation artists*4, whose “experiences were very rooted in World War II.” As a result, Amagatsu says,he began his own journey by asking the question, “What is butoh to me?” The answer he arrived at—which he has written in several books (French, and since translated into Japanese)-- is that it's a dialogue with gravity. “I think of the body with and without force; with and without tension. The traverse between these points really has an important connection to my style of butoh.”
He may not as concerned as his predecessers were about the war, but it's clear Amagatsu still pours a great deal of philosophy and existentialism into his work. Still, his aim, he says, has always been to create simplicity on stage. And as we continue to speak, I find some of his answers have a surprisingly practical slant.
I ask him how feel when he dances.
He replies, “Empty.”
“Like meditation?”
“No. Because if you're thinking of something, your body's movement gets delayed. If you have a void mind. The dancer can effortlessly follow what he has rehearsed in the studio.” (p.35)

He explains, “White make-up existed before us, for example in the masks of the noh theater*5 and kabuki actors. But it also existed in other countries outside of Japan. I came to understand it as a way of removeing ourselves from reality, and of removing indivudual personalities on stage. Of course, the white paint also reflects the light very well. So you make the dancer's body like a canvas. “ (ibid.)

I also want to know why Sankaijuku only employs male dancers.
He chuckles and says he's been asked this question many times. “Please believe me, there is no discrimination against women. It was purely coincidental.” As it turns out, the reason is quite simply down to the fact that when he founded the company, he held a one-year workshop, and out of the 30 dancers who applied, only three men stayed for the full course. (ibid.)