Failure (Updated: 05/01/18)

“Don’t concern yourself with moving skillfully. Don’t abandon hope if a perfect solution isn’t found. Failure is a powerful stimulant; it only makes you all the more determined to be more painstaking …. There’s no standard approach; find your own way.” – Kazuo Ohno¹

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of life, and one which begs for resonance. Like in death, there is nowhere else to go but into the hole of putrefaction or resurrection. One will either get bitter (antithesis) or better (synthesis).

Because failure shares this qualia with death (unforeseen/unwanted turn of events), it can be seen within one of the Four Butoh Spices: (1) Shock; (2) Sway; (3) Collapse; (4) Die.

Body Failure

Take any movement or qualia and cut that energy at any point. For instance, if I want to execute throwing a ball, I might wind, and midway into the throw, something happens, and the energy is cut. Perhaps you might even see the movement executed via the imagination. Your body itself has failed you.

The ability to instantly cut or let-be-cut is a jumping wild skill.

Failure For Itself

During butoh research, we might fall or have an accident of some type. Resonate with the unexpected. Own the error. Own the error so much that the audience may never know there was an error. You may even copy the error and keep utilizing this in the dance. This is utilizing the improvisational theater concept of “Yes, And…” to the maximum.

Meta-Failure For Itself

If we do have a psychological reaction because of our failure (frustration, etc.), dance it. Whatever qualia or body gesture occurs as a result of failure, dance it. You can even fake that you were affected.


¹ Ohno, Kazuo, Workshop Words (Keiko no Kotoba), Tokyo: Shichou Sha. (Japanese Edition). p. 136. 1997.
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