Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 2022


Music and Performing Arts, College of


Theatre and Dance, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Butoh is an underground dance movement in Japan that explores the human psyche in unconventional and sometimes grotesque ways. It originated out of the devastation of WWII Japan and rails against the rigidity of society as well as traditional theatre and dance forms. It has ties to Buddhism, in that both view suffering as a natural state of the world, and both may lead to depersonalisation (intentionally or otherwise), which is described as a loss of identity or sense of self. Gone unchecked, this detached exploration of the psyche can lead to personality dissolution, which can be especially problematic to western artists who define themselves within the bounds of an individualistic society. In addition to explaining the fascinating origins of Butoh, this paper provides insight as to how important safe butoh practices are when expanding its cultural reach.

KazuoOhno.mp4 (4229 kB)
Kazuo Ohno's The Dead Sea

SankaiJukuMeguri.mp4 (44673 kB)
Sankai Juku's Meguri