Dance of Darkness (Director Edin Velez, 1989) is an award-winning documentary on Japanese Butoh which was broadcast nationally in the USA by PBS and internationally in France and Germany by ARTE TV. The dark sensibilities and cultural resonances of Butoh, the radical Japanese dance movement, are explored in this multilayered work. Profoundly rooted in both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, Butoh arose in a spirit of revolt in the early 1960s. Characterized by frank sexuality and bodily distortions, Butoh transforms traditional dance movements into new forms, stripping away the taboos of contemporary Japanese culture to reveal a secret world of darkness and irrationality. Butoh performance elevates the subconscious to theatrical spectacle, in the tradition of Kabuki and Noh, and references ancient folk mythologies. In images of haunting power, Velez presents performances by the genre’s most important dancers, interwoven with interviews and historical information.
(PHOTO: Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York - Still frame from “Dance of Darkness” features Byakko Sha performing “Civil Wars”)