“Black Butoh” is an experimental, movement-based short using the Japanese art form of Butoh to navigate the anxieties of being a Black man in the United States in 2015-2016.
Known as the dance of darkness, Hijikata, one of Butoh’s founders, described the essence of the dance as the “man walking to the gallows,” who is the most alive he’ll ever be because he is so close to death. As the embodiment of recurring death and the celebration of life, Butoh, in this context, becomes the channel through which to convey the paralytic tension of Black folks being the most alive because of the constant threat of death.
“Black Butoh” was inspired by Nicole Fleetwood’s article, “Raising a Black Boy Not to Be Afraid,” where she expressed, “the violence done to Tamir is not only his death but the silencing of his voice.” This piece asks if the body can speak for the bodies that have been silenced.
The audio is a collection of bodycam, dashcam, cell phone footage, news interviews, and a poems by Crystal Valentine and LZ Granderson.
Directed by LZ Granderson (USA)