Ass Mask: Noh Faces New Ends

Gerald Raymond Gordon
Baika Women’s University

This paper introduces Kyoto-based butoh dancer Yasuo Fukurozaka’s approach to improvised dance. Floating between ritual and raw physicality, Fukurozaka’s dance practice often focuses on committing his body to physical situations that his body – and he – do not plan or expect. Through this approach, his body’s physical responses guide the creation process by locating itself within, adapting to and improvising conditional functionalities to stark and unpredictable physical contexts. In this way, Fukurozaka’s dance becomes a real-time physical affective document, his body’s exhibited capacities in relation to changing situations. Through a focused examination of one of Fukurozaka’s
performance called “Princess Moonlight,” and by exploring links between his approach and the theoretical aesthetic concerns and applied methods of noh drama as exhibited in its stage craft, performance theory and use of masks, I analyze how Fukurozaka’s unorthodox use of the noh mask both reveals the enduring power of this simple yet powerful ancient technology as well as illustrates the radical respect which this avant-guard improvising dancer shows for and shares with noh’s centering of the audiences’ imaginative autonomy.

KEYWORDS: Noh, Yasuo Fukurozaka, Butoh, Improvisation, Dance, Avant-guard, Japan, Audience, Mask

Download PDF

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.