Butoh dance performance with Masaki Iwana

Οn Monday, May 9, 2016, at 9:00 pm Masaki Iwana will deliver a unique Butoh dance performance called Namanari (“Half Demon”). The performance will take place at the Altera Pars Theatre, (123 Megalou Alexandrou street, T: + 210 341 0011).

The main source of inspiration for Namanari

My method then – to stand on my hand and head naked, motionless – was a manifestation of my desire not to be trapped in the meaning of language; it was also an attempt to approach the essence, a craving for language at its deepest meaning. In the spring of 1985, I wore suits, women’s suits, for the first time in five years. This doesn’t mean that my philosophy has changed. I just wanted to place my language in front of myself as a mirror, to define myself more clearly. In other words, I hoped that if I was disciplined in the language I wanted to deconstruct, it would collapse and I would break up.

(September 1985, Masaki Iwana)


Masaki Iwana was originally committed to highlighting the balance of the flesh through his total nakedness.

He had already given three shows since he started wearing a piece of “fabric” that looked like a suit. In the third performance, entitled Namanari (“Half Demon”), at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, the “fabric” finally became a true suit. It was a 19th-century robe with a neckline and a broad decorative ribbon.*

From the moment he appeared on stage – which was as if he were going to turn the clock back to the 19th century – until the shocking act of betraying his suit, and then through the process of accepting the burden of time carried by the suit to the end of the transition from collapse to tranquillity, Iwana was perfectly consistent in accomplishing his venture through physicality. This project involved a process of resistance, defeat and balance with substance – matter.

The meaning of Namanari lies at the point where he lifts his clothes and reveals his genitals. In the first performance, his movement was unstable, marginally on the point of destroying his entire project. For a moment we had a feeling of disgust. Surprisingly, however, we couldn’t get our eyes off the stage. It was as if we saw the time of the body (which was expressed here as repressed emotions) that had survived for a long period (of culture) as represented by the 19th-century costume.

What is important, however, is that a vulgar act carries such significance, and also that an unstable and risky act has helped to demonstrate – in a reflective way – that the body’s balance and manifestation, or its balance as a dance technique – something Iwana has always aspired to achieve – is firmly established in the centre of his sensitivity.

In linguistic terms, this could be called a complete imbalance.

*it was tied on his back in a way that looked like wings

Mario Gohda, dance critic (art publication On stage Shinbun, 13 December 1985)

Masaki Iwana short bio

Considered one of the most acclaimed contemporary Butoh performers in Japan — Masaki Iwana is a rarity among artists since he still maintains the original Butoh spirit, having begun his dance career outside the “butoh genealogy” in 1975. By 1982 he had presented 150 experimental performances in which he stood straight, completely naked and perfectly still.

Since then, Iwana has performed and hosted workshops continuously in Europe and Japan and has created works built on his sharpened aesthetic in more than 100 cities and 40 countries around the world.

Iwana represents the Institute for the research of Butoh – La Maison du Butoh Blanc, based in southern Normandy in France. In 2008 he produced and created the theatrical film Vermilion Souls, following this with A Summer Family in 2010, Princess Betrayal in 2012, and Charlotte-Susabi in 2017.

For additional information on the artist and his projects visit: http://www.iwanabutoh.com/