This two-hour workshop will provide an introduction to butoh, a postmodern approach to movement that originated primarily in the work of Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in Japan in the 1950s. No previous dance experience is necessary. Anyone interested in exploring their bodies through movement improvisation are welcome—beginners and advanced practitioners alike. Synthesized in the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, butoh is now practiced around the globe and has developed through many strategies for generating movement. My approach to butoh cultivates shifting meditative experiences of the body as a mode of becoming. Through a series of layered improvisations, we will explore various states of awareness, duration, and deterritorialization as we engage our bodies as a range of images and other forms of materiality. In this process, we surrender certainty of what a body means or what it might become; we experiment with the potential of the body in relation to others and task-based scores, opening to possibilities for how else we might experience ourselves. In this sense, butoh provides a context in which to investigate the relationship of the body to the world; to explore what can emerge out of states of complexity, crisis, or impossibility; and to practice staying open to what might not be known.
Michael J. Morris is a choreographer, performer, writer, and Visiting Assistant Professor at Denison University where they teach in the Department of Dance, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Queer Studies. Their work focuses on co-creating meaningful shared experiences with other people and destabilizing normative categories through which bodies are made to live. Michael holds a PhD in Dance Studies from The Ohio State University where their research focused on theorizing ecosexualities in performance. They have presented their research at national and international conferences including the Congress on Research in Dance and the Society of Dance History Scholars; Performance Studies International; Queer Places, Practices & Lives; The Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance; Staging Sustainability: Arts Community Culture Environment; the Ecosex Symposium II; and Environmentalism Outside the Box: An Ecosex Symposium. Their writing has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater, TDR: The Drama Review, Choreographic Practices, Dance Chronicle, and the European Journal of Ecopsychology. Michael has served as dramaturge for Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project and Maree ReMalia | merrygogo. From 2011-2015, Michael taught Queer Yoga sponsored by Queer Behavior throughout Columbus. Michael has been practicing butoh since 2005. They first encountered butoh at the American College Dance Festival with Tammy Metz Starr, then went on to study with Yoshito Ohno at the Kazuo Ohno Studio in Yokohama, Japan. They have also practiced butoh with teachers including Yuko Kaseki, Marianne Kim, and Lani Weissbach.