Dance of Darkness

1989, 54:57 min, color, sound

The dark sensibilities and cultural resonances of Butoh, the radical Japanese dance movement, are explored in this multilayered work. Profoundly rooted in both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, Butoh arose in a spirit of revolt in the early 1960s. Characterized by frank sexuality and bodily distortions, Butoh transforms traditional dance movements into new forms, stripping away the taboos of contemporary Japanese culture to reveal a secret world of darkness and irrationality. Butoh performance elevates the subconscious to theatrical spectacle, in the tradition of Kabuki and Noh, and references ancient folk mythologies. In images of haunting power, Velez presents performances by the genre's most important dancers, interwoven with interviews and historical information. Using fluid video effects to magnify the drama of the dance, Velez captures the eerie, sensual and often startling resonance of Butoh.

Director/Camera: Edin Velez. VTR/Audio: Ethel Velez. Editors: Frank Markward, Robert Beyer, Tom Crawford, Rick Feist. Electronic Graphics: Joyce Abrams. Title Animation: Ramon Guzman. Produced by Ethel Velez and Edin Velez in association with La Sept and New Television WNET/WGBH.