Masaki Iwana

An Interview with Masaki Iwana

Date published: 26 July 2012
Interview date: 16 June 2012, Kid Ailack Hall, Tokyo

© Dominique Baron-Bonarjee 2012

Masaki Iwana speaks to the audience at the workshop presentation
Masaki Iwana speaks to the audience at the workshop presentation

Masaki Iwana is a Japanese Butoh dancer, currently based in South Normandy, France. He began his career in Tokyo in the seventies. He runs regular workshops and continues to perform internationally. I met him in Tokyo in June 2012 when I was attending his workshop.

Masaki Iwana | Biography
Considered one of the most acclaimed Butoh performers in Japan today — Masaki Iwana is a rarity in that he still maintains the original Butoh spirit, having begun his dance career outside the “butoh genealogy” in 1975. Until 1982 he presented 150 experimental performances in which he stood straight, completely naked and perfectly still.Since then, in Europe as well as Japan, Iwana has presented his performances and workshops continuously – and has created works built on his sharpened aesthetic in more than 100 cities and 40 countries around the world.Iwana represents the institute for the research of Butoh – La Maison du Butoh Blanc, based in southern Normandy in France.

In 2008 he produced and created the theatrical film Vermilion Souls, following this with A Summer Family in 2010. He has recently completed his third feature – Princess Betrayal.


DBB: You said in your book ‘ The Intensity of Nothingness’*: “Butoh dancers… must strive today for contemporaneity, revisit themselves and dance their own Butoh while at times deconstructing it.” What are your feelings about the idea of ‘contemporary Butoh’ and what are the possibilities? Could you define Butoh?

MI: There are three essential aspects for defining Butoh dance:

This interview is no longer available online

*All quotes in the interview are from the book ‘The Intensity of Nothingness – The Dance and Thoughts of Masaki Iwana’ unless otherwise stated.
Performance at Keio University, 13 June 2012

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