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An Inquiry into the Creative Process of Butoh: With Reference to the Implications of Eastern and Western Significances

Liao, P. (2006). An Inquiry into the Creative Process of Butoh: With Reference to the Implications of Eastern and Western Significances. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis investigates the creative processes of Butoh choreography. A phenomenological perspective is used in this thesis to explore the implications for choreographers of the choreographic options employed in Butoh creative processes. Phenomenology corresponds to the Japanese philosophical context which gave birth to Butoh, elucidating the worldview merging with the universe which underpins Butoh. In terms of phenomenology, merging with the universe is firstly understood as a state of inter-subjectivity or transcendental consciousness, and secondly as the interweaving through actions of individual woridviews and a greater world of shared socio-cultural significances contributed by different people. The inter-subjective relationship between self, other self and objects is used to examine and elucidate the juxtaposition of various kinds of imagery in Butoh. The phenomenological notion of actions is used to examine bodily movement with respect to a greater world in Butoh. Phenomenology particularly corresponds to some of the fundamental processes used by Butoh choreographers. The choreographers' initial options for treating materials, namely visceral sensations as media for merging with the universe, texts as media for perception, paintings as media for presenting images, and actions as building blocks of an inter-subjective world, are inclined to guide the creative processes to develop the manifold of a spiritual imagery and bodily actions. These options and treatments are elucidated in this thesis through the network of perception and the phenomenological notion of graded fulfillment. The choreographer's treatment of the materials requires that the network of perception operates differently for different materials. The results of the operations are then integrated by the choreographer, through a process of graded fulfillment, into a holistic perception of the imagery or into a greater world, of which every image on stage is a part. In contrast the dialectical choreographic options, namely texts as tools for reasoning, paintings as representative structures of the subjects, and actions as representative units of social structure and cultural patterns, are inclined to guide the choreographers towards a focus on the development of formalised postures and gestures. The dialectical options are underpinned by rationalist, sociological or anthropological perspectives. It is argued that both the initial and dialectical options have value. The initial and dialectical options have co-existed and merged over the course of Butoh's development. Through their use different significances are incorporated into dance through the creative processes. Those significances can be identified as mainly rooted in Eastern philosophy, but later expanded to include Western philosophy when Butoh began to develop in a global context. Accordingly, Butoh creative processes are enriched by the use of a variety of
choreographic options and by incorporating viewpoints from different people and perspectives.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Departments: City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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