Accepted paper:

Danced grief as pathway to non-dualistic Insight: Japanese butô dance of Ohno Yoshito


Michael Weiss (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Grieving can be an existential and transformative experience. This paper addresses questions as to how the process of grieving is integrated in the Japanese butô dance of Ohno Yoshito to realize and perform insights beyond dualistic conceptions.

Paper long abstract:

Practiced as a path of insight through bodymind, dance can passed on as a process to enter non-dualistic understanding. One of such ways is to be found in Japanese butô dance (bu: 'to dance'; -tô: 'step') which was developed during the second half of the 20th century. This paper attempts to reveal a convergence between butô master Ohno Yoshito, his ritual transmission of this art and the dancers who visit his studio. Accompanying dancers toward a transformative search into one's bodymind, the intention of Ohno Yoshito's butô consists in the realization of the non-duality of emptiness (kû). Such a process is of existential character, meaning to touch a person's entirety. Therefore, Ohno Yoshito particularly opens three introspective and interrelated fields with such potential: Experiences of suffering, grief as its emotional answer and developments of empathy. With this in mind, as the dancers practise walking as a revelation of their being, he says: "Each step should contain pain and should be mastered thoroughly; otherwise it cannot be butô." The non-dualistic realm of "mastering steps of pain" in relation to grief as a healing process is the focus of this paper. Based on Ohno Yoshito's butô transmission and reflections of the dancers, I try to convey in principle how the butô process of "mastering steps of pain" can become a transit experience that leads to an expansion of non-dualistic insight and empathy.

panel LD14
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