Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Theatre

Advisor

Claudia Orenstein

Committee Members

Marvin Carlson

David Savran

Bruce Baird

Subject Categories

Dance | Japanese Studies

Keywords

postmodern dance, butoh, site-specific, Hakushu, Prague, Japan, Min Tanaka

Abstract

This work is the first in-depth study of the work of avant-garde Japanese dancer/choreographer Tanaka Min, and focuses on his extensive innovations in the fields of improvised dance, training, and choreographic method. These interrelated aspects of his experimental practice are intimately concerned with the relation between space and the body, employ collaborative methods, and are strongly influenced by the life and work of Hijikata Tatsumi (widely to considered to be the founder of the butô movement). They are also deeply informed by his choice to live his daily life as an organic vegetable farmer, a choice that I argue constitutes a radical experiment in the relationship between dance and everyday life. Tanaka’s various activities are informed by the ideology of Body Weather (Shintai kisho), a personal philosophy that considers the body as omni-centric and in a state of continual change. I contextualize specific examples of Tanaka’s practice using data gleaned through participant observation, archival research, and extensive interviews with Tanaka and those who have worked with him. Tanaka Min is widely recognized as a significant figure in Japanese butô. Misconceptions about butô, ted to the Eurocentric notion of the Japanese as a people defined by traditional practices, deprive contemporary Japanese performing artists of individual agency. Employing comparative analysis with the work of other experimental choreographers in Japan and the U.S., this work repositions Tanaka as a major innovator in international contemporary dance who throughout his career has extended the radical experimentation of both the Tokyo and New York avant-garde dance movements of the nineteen-sixties.

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