“Slow down, you move too fast…”

 The fleet-footed Michael Flatley demonstrates a manic energy, showmanship and  sure and rapid footwork that excites large audiences. His Riverdance troupe performances are wildly popular. Crowds fill all the venues wherever they perform.  This is dance as Spectacle! The continuation of this dance form is assured. Everywhere in North America there are dance schools teaching the skills of Irish dancing, along with those  of Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop and Ballroom.

Butoh is a dance of Japanese origins. It is the polar opposite of Riverdance – dancers move at glacial speed.  Their bodies’ motion occurs in almost imperceptible increments – they shift and flow subtly in their space, nearly naked and their skin completely whitened.  They mostly dance accompanied by silence, not catchy, exciting or toe-tapping music. Diehard dance aficionados tend to be their audience.  This is not a popular type of dance, and instruction in its discipline can be acquired in very few places.  It is dance as Meditation.

It is also beautiful in how I am affected whenever I attend a performance of the Kokoro  troupe. I am sure my blood pressure drops measurably while I am watching these dancers.  (I  wonder if there have been any researches made to substantiate this idea) My breathing slows and deepens.   I seldom blink for fear of losing the thread of movement and lose awareness of having a body. Seeing is heightened. The bodies of the dancers seem to glow and it is almost as if their energy field  is visible. And interestingly any of my tendencies to compare, analyze, and evaluate simply disappear, as long as I am fully attending to what is in front of me.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Butoh performance, treat yourself to a wonderful experience!  You might find it slowing you down – sometimes slow is good.

Meanwhile, whatever your dance is, keep dancing.

4 Responses to ““Slow down, you move too fast…””

  1. onemoreoption Says:

    Yes, keep dancing. Movement is important. I’ve never seen a Butoh performance. I appreciate slower moving arts like meditation, yoga, or morning exercises as I get older – as each of those movements become harder and less taken for granted.

  2. Michèle Says:

    I would be very happy to join your society for inept businesswomen !

    I do compose. I run two choirs and write and arrange music for them both as well as performing in a small band myself.

    This slow Japanese dancing sounds wonderful…I’m all for anything which slows us down. I live in a very rural environment and I can more or less do what I want with my time, but I still rush about frantically. It’s the way our society works. We have to be busy, busy, busy. It’s not how we were meant to be I’m sure…

  3. mjau Says:

    Slowing down is hard for me. Things rush through my head constantly. I’ve done yoga at home, but I’m finding it hard to give it time.
    Then again, getting started is also hard. It’s the transitions between slowing down and getting started that are the most challenging to me. It’s hard to wake up and hard to fall asleep. But I’ve solved the winding down problem with Sudoku. It seems the Japanese are good at inventing things that are calming to the mind…
    I love your writing! I just read several blog entries even though I should have been releasing myself from the computer after a long day. I relate to the pearls and swine entry, but I don’t think my parents had such great expectations of my clarinet playing (not even my own choice of instrument) I think they only wanted to give me the opportunity to try many things, and for that I am eternally grateful.
    Your description of croquis-classes is on the spot. I miss going to these classes in art school. It’s almost a meditative experience to focus so completely on the task of transcribing what you see in front of you to paper.

  4. suburbanlife Says:

    Mjau – you are probably at a more demanding and active phase of your life than I am, and you and all others in your sphere have expectations of you which you want and feel obliged to meet.. I agree the Japanese are good at inventing processes that when practised lead to calmness. Somehow, though as a culture they also seem to have trouble with speed of life. Butoh is probably not popular there either, but Sudoku is, and that is good.

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