Exploring Japanese Avant-garde Art Through Butoh Dance Course - Keio University


2 locations available
Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


See how Japanese art absorbed, refigured and influenced Western art in the 20th century through Hijikata Tatsumi's butoh dance.

Get an introduction to the key concepts of Japanese avant-garde art

Butoh dance is practised and researched globally, but the work of its founder, Hijikata Tatsumi, is relatively unknown. This is in part because archival materials necessary to learning about Hijikata’s butoh are not widely disseminated.

This online course will make use of a wide range of archival materials in order to introduce Hijikata’s butoh within the context of Japanese and international post-war art and culture.

In doing so, it will both deepen the global understanding of butoh and explore innovative methods for dance education.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1 - Towards Butoh: Experimentation

  • Hijikata’s work from the late 1950s to late 1960s, introducing key works like “Forbidden Colours” (1959) and “Revolt of the Flesh” (1968).
  • The Tokyo Experimental art scene of the 1960s and the influence of Western thinking and art on Hijikata’s work.

Week 2 - Dancing Butoh: Embodiment 

  • Hijikata’s work from the early to mid-1970s, through the series of performances “27 Nights for Four Seasons” (1972), and a handful of works that followed.
  • Hijikata’s relationship with his hometown Akita in terms of Japanese traditional arts and Eastern body theories.

Week 3 - Behind Butoh: Creation 

  • Works from the late 1970s like “Costume in Front” and “Human Form” (both 1976) to explore the choreographic method and notation behind Hijikata’s butoh.

Week 4 - Expanding Butoh: Globalisation 

  • The spread of butoh abroad from the late 1970s onwards through a number of key festivals, such as “MA: Espace-Temps du Japon” (Paris, 1977) and the first international “Butoh Festival” (Berlin, 1985) and invited foreign researchers’ dialogues, such as Sylviane Pages and Katje Centonze.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:

  • Collect and analyse archival materials relating to performance, dance and related artworks.
  • Synthesise information relating to dance’s methods of creation (notation) with its creative outcomes (performance).
  • Reflect on how research transforms the experience of viewing dance.
  • Explore ways of connecting dance to its historical and cultural contexts.
  • Collaborate with other users in researching the contexts of dance creation.
  • Describe how Tatsumi Hijikata created and revolved butoh dance.

Who is the course for?

The course is aimed at any individual with an interest in Japanese culture and art, the experimental arts, and the performing arts, but it is principally directed towards undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and practising artists.

The course also aims to be useful for educators wishing to deliver lectures and courses on butoh.

The Educators/Hosts will facilitate this course for about three times a year. Our next facilitation period will be announced soon. While the Educators themselves aren’t available to facilitate this run, we encourage you to engage with other learners and there are opportunities to do this throughout the course.

Who will you learn with?

Yohko Watanabe

Formerly a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, I’m a professor and curator at the Keio University Art Center. I head the "Exploring Japanese Avant-garde Art Through Butoh Dance" course.

Takashi Morishita

I am the Director of the Hijikata Tatsumi Archive at the Keio University Art Center and one of the educator on the FutureLearn Course "Exploring Japanese Avant-garde Art Through Butoh Dance."

Rosa van Hensbergen

I'm Rosa van Hensbergen, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, and one of the educators on the FutureLearn Course "Exploring Japanese Avant-garde Art Through Butoh Dance."

Who developed the course?

Keio University

Keio University is Japan’s first modern institution of higher learning, and since 1858 has established itself as a leader in Japan through its continued commitment to education, research and medicine.

Join this course



$259.99 for one year

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  • Access to this course for 6 weeks

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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
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Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

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Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts. Develop your career, learn a new skill, or pursue your hobbies with flexible online courses. Read less
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