Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Janice Brown

Second Advisor

Faye Kleeman

Third Advisor

Donna Mejia


The Japanese dance style of butoh provides a rich co-mingling of traditional Japanese dance movements with a new cultural and artistic expression developed in the post-war avant-garde period. The focus of this project will be an analysis of the intersection of this post-war aesthetic with theories of dance and movement in butoh in order to more fully understand the role of the dancer as a vessel for embodying meaning in performance and the role of the body in butoh dance to communicate cultural and emotional meaning. By examining the writings of butoh originators, this project explores the various elements of an original butoh aesthetic and examines that performance aesthetic in its relation to forging an emotional connection with its audience. By drawing on concepts and approaches from the fields of kinesics and phenomenology, this project explains the human capacity to embody meaning, how this is achieved, and how that relates to the communicative goals of butoh performance as laid out by originators of the dance. The project concludes by examining the intersection of aesthetic ideals with theories of human movement and embodiment in an analysis of the recent performance Earth Tomes: celebrating the earth.