Butoh & revolution

“Butoh is linked to revolution” – An interview with Yoshito Ohno

Published : 25 October 2012
Interview date: 10 & 17 July 2012, Kami-Hoshikawa

 © Dominique Baron-Bonarjee 2012

Interpretation (Japanese to English): Moe Tomoeda

In the kitchen at Kami-Hoshikawa

Who is Yoshito Ohno?

Yoshito Ohno is the son of Kazuo Ohno, the co-founder alongside Tatsumi Hijikata of Butoh dance. Yoshito danced in ‘Kinjiki’ in 1959, Hijikata’s piece, which is considered to be the first manifestation of his ideas of Butoh. Yoshito’s close association with Hijikata continued throughout the development of Butoh up until Hijikata’s death in 1985. Yoshito continued after this as Kazuo Ohno’s son and collaborator, dancing with him, assisting him and helping to direct his performances.

Yoshito now in his seventies continues to be a strong and active presence in the Butoh world. He teaches regular workshops in the Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio at his home in Kami-Hoshikawa. He is is an active performer and recently danced at the Theatre X International Theatre and Dance Festival, the Fukushima Art Biennale, and the Kazuo Ohno Festival 2012 where I joined him, dancing together with a group of his students in the opening scene of his performance with Lucie Grégoire.

I have been attending his workshops now for over seven months. I appreciate Yoshito’s approach very much. In keeping with his father, Kazuo’s way, he allows a great deal of free improvisation in these sessions, and his role becomes that of a storyteller. He suggests feelings, awareness of space and energies, memories. He is greatly concerned for the current state of the world and he encourages each dancer to develop a sense of responsibility towards it: through our bodies we can resist, we can revolt, we can heal and we can pray.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Yoshito and listen to his wonderful reminiscing in July 2012, over two sessions in the kitchen at his home in Kami-Hoshikawa.

This interview is no longer available online


Performing with Yoshito at the Kazuo Ohno Festival, 2012


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