Translating Japanese

Kazuko Mogami 3

Third and last (for the moment) entry introducing the words of Kazuko Mogami (1, 2), an inspiring Butoh practitioner. I hope you are aware that I am introducing different videos,  though from the same night that I organised the performance, for each entry.

1st June

Dance is a moment that is eternal. It’s like, “of course” when you hear it, but it strikes me when I spell it out. To actually make it happen is an entirely different matter.(31st May)

Unless the dancer herself is in the eternity, it won’t happen to the spectators.

It was never so simple until I was able to say it simply. The inside of our body is both darkness and light. Sometimes I can feel directly how light is flowing out from my body. But well, it’s hard.

When I am managing to dance well, I am becoming the inner being of things, no fake. To somehow keep it within the form of dance is the difficult part. It is ‘inside’ but somehow materialises as ‘outside’. It’s just too difficult to walk on that border between. That is why there are only so few people who work on the dance that springs from true ‘inside’.

It takes bizarre amount of concentration, perhaps I use up all the focusing energy, I am unable to concentrate on any other activities. So I do housework-like things such as sewing or gardening. These things can be done without too much consciousness.


When I bring my concentration to the extreme, even for 10 minutes, I cannot dance again, at all, for the rest of the day.LOL I thought it is only me who are so inflexible, I used to feel kind of inferior, but then I met a Butoh-dancer who is like me, which made me feel better.

I hear that rituals in the old days had period of purification being vegetarian or staying in a hut alone before dancing, hightening the concentration, so maybe it’s only natural. I heard Hijikata-san used to fast. In modern days we do not do so extreme things, but we need our own methods to build our concentration.


2nd June

Neither painting a flower, nor verbally expressing the impression of the flower, but it is to become the flower itself. That is dance. This dance does not happen unless you reach the sphere of madness. But this madness is ever silent and cool. (1st June)

When we say “to become a flower”, most people only try to follow and reproduce the image of what is imprinted as flower in us. Becoming a flower is not that. It is to become not the outside but the inside of the flower; not the surface but its inner being. It is not about imitating the form.
But there are times when I borrow the power of that image to communicate to others (but then some people get too dragged by the surface😅)


For me, dance is overwhelmingly great, and something that I can never reach. I am ever impatient for what little I can do despite its infinite possibility.


To cultivate the inner field of the body is like the work of a minor digging for diamond. Or to stand alone in wasteland where there is not even a flower nor animal. When your eyes develop to capture each grain of sand, then only you realise that so many plants and animals are alive there.


I have tweeted this several times, but. The West has so much development in the power of logos, but on the topic of physical expressions, (to be frank,) it is quite immature. It is as if all the energy has got absorbed by the world of words.

And Japan had maturity in its physical experience but weak in logic, so its treasure does not get communicated to the world. It becomes mere orientalism. And they never meet each other.

Why can they not meet each other? One of the reasons is that those who are in the world of words do not dance, so they cannot see dance from its inner essence, they are ever looking over from outside. Also those who dance are weak in words. That is also natural, because when you are really working on dance, there is no time to get trained in language.

Some people ask me to write a book on body and dance, but if I am to work on it seriously, it is like being torn apart between the body of dance and the body of writing, which is very hard. It never really happened.


Although I try my best to convey the essence through my translations, if any misunderstanding happens due to some differences in nuance, the responsibility is on me, Paromita as the translator.


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