2020 Butoh Encounters: bio-art // Pilot project

January & February 2020

Oslo, Norway

Many Butoh dancers refer to their bodies on a micro-level as collection of cells, or describe internal processes that they work with even though they are not visible to the audience. Honza Svasek wrote: "Butoh is about the body seeking freedom from human and cultural programming. It is a revolution of the body. Perceiving the body as a colony of trillions and trillions of cells, each with its own memory, resonating with life, co-creating life, makes it possible to drop the mind and sink deep into the body to dance the whole of existence" and Toshiharu Kasai claimed: “A Butoh dancer can appear to be standing still while he shifts the air in the right lung to the left via his/her trachea with indiscernible bodily movements”. Yet, it is unknown what this internal micro-level is like and it remains considered purely as a metaphor. We, however, recognise a great potential in exploring this idea literally with the use of microbiological science. 

We have collaborated with prof. Erik Johannessen from The Institute for Microsystems at Universitetet i Sørøst Norge to observe moving  white blood cells of the Butoh dancer Azumaru. We have also run a workshop with the scientists from The Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming at Universitetet i Oslo, working together on a choreographic material based on the newest knowledge and visual images of cancer cells and their behaviour. 

This pilot project will be further developed into a full scale production later this year. 

Director & producer: Karolina Bieszczad-Stie

Co-director & designer: Adam Bartley

Laboratory work: Erik Andrew Johannessen

Scientific collaboration: Harald Alfred Stenmark (Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming)

Dancer: Azumaru

Documentation: Stein Stie

Supported by:


        © 2020 By Karolina Bieszczad-Stie