[excerpt 1] Design after Dance

(Image courtesy of Tetsuro Fukuhara, Tokyo Space Dance.)

Written by Lital Khaikin
Edited by Ovidio Sbrissa
In collaboration with Tetsuro Fukuhara (Tokyo Space Dance)

The collaboration between Tetsuro Fukuhara, Lital Khaikin and Ovidio Sbrissa is intended to explore the avant-garde expression of Butoh principles through the architectural act of creation and its poetic language. The intent of our interweaving of artistic disciplines is to foster a critically needed re-sensitising to one’s perception of “endurance” as emoted by those uninhibited movements encouraged or restricted by reaction to the multitude of socio-culturally predicated placeholders. We are concerned with the homogenisation of our cities, and the inhibition of total bodily presence. We are inspired by the radicalism of Butoh and its confrontation with an experience of movement that in turn has the potential to define the ichnography of one’s “lived space”.


One day, architect Shusaku Arakawa whispered to dancer Tetsuro Fukuhara, “I wonder, will you feel fruitless if your dance can’t give birth to something after the dance?”

For when the dancer erupts in movement, they know that their body’s lyric will soon end, that with every statement made in gesture or in pause, the silence of forgetting will consume the creature that was borne into movement. Arakawa’s question inspires the artist to awaken from the temptation of a fruitless dream, and extend dance beyond performance. The dancer is called to cast away the slumbering repertoire, from the sightless cages that guide mind and limb, and the laws by which a body abides.


In the body’s performed conditioning—the analysis of anticipated behaviour, unerratic stimuli and precise choreography—where is a place for the most delicate poeticisation of experience – that of memory? Filaments of memory intersect with the deepest myths of personal dream and nightmare, and reverberate with the translations of infinite other myths. Without a spatial attention to memory, we are limited to a precariousness, without ever extending beyond programmatic response. Butoh is particularly concerned with the body’s expression of memory, where we arrive at the processes of the transformation in animality, embodying history through many life forms—the progression from the earliest microbial states, to fish and amphibians, to the first knowledge of the human form. Here too we have the potential to realise a non-animal vision of the body, remembering, for instance, the particle memories of geology, electricity, sound. Tetsuro Fukuhara writes,

“In Space Dance, we try to recover the memory beyond human through our dance and we accumulate its result as the tacit knowledge about the body. Our brain keeps all memories about all life on our earth, as the brain evolves from the earliest forms to the human brain of today. In our dance movements too, sometimes we can find other strange movements of all life through these memories. In Space Dance, when we try to dance to organize our body as the object we can touch several “Forgotten Memories” sometimes with a wave motion of the internal organs, sometimes with a sound of the bone, and sometimes with the excitement of a nerve.”


Where does the body begin to experience itself and the cusp of the separate, that alien skin that presses from the void? A Butoh “architecture” responds to the precedence of structure as certainty, as reference and guide. When that definition is taken away, there remains an anxiety in the freedom from the insidious control over the body’s placement in space and the determination of its own mythology of movement. How then, could architecture challenge this distinction between “outside” and “inside” as experienced by the body, rather than the structurally defined interior and exterior space?

Space Dance is a practice of imagining space that arises from both the immediate response that reaches from the body, and the anticipation of a future that is marked by memory, transposing a sense of experimentation into the public space. With such an approach to place-making, we might rediscover the natural tendencies of memory to perceive and reconstruct the shapes of spaces that have been lived in, passed through, that change and have changed.

This excerpt is from Design after Dance.