Dancing with Spirits in Animated Climates in Japanese Performing Arts
In the folk religion of Japan it was believed that the climate was animated and filled with spirits, for example, divine, vengeful, wild, or mild ones. Natural phenomena such as thunder, storms, earthquakes or the sunrise were regarded as active performances played by a certain god or spirit in nature. Traditional folk dances in Japan have served a religious and social function to celebrate the divine spirits in good weather or to calm down vengeful spirits in bad weather, earthquake, or tsunami. This conception of dancing with spirits in animated climates can be acknowledged also in modern Japanese performing arts, such as in Butoh by Ohno Kazuo, in contemporary dance by Tanaka Min or Yamaguchi Sayoko. In their performances the body has a function of being a “Yorishiro”, an object which is possessed by spirits in animated climates. This possessed body can also be a medium to communicate with spirits of the dead, which must sometimes be celebrated or reposed. In my presentation I will analyze performances by Tanaka Min and Yamaguchi Sayoko from a viewpoint of communicating with spirits in animated climates through performance.