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.