Butoh Dance & Neuroscience

A Dance for Body-mind integration

Butoh dance is also a journey for psychosomatic exploration where processes of cognitive-motor integration, intercerebral synchronicity, interpersonal coordination, attention enhancement and memory recovery occur. Processes which are currently being studied by modern neuroscience for their therapeutic application, given their multiple health benefits (Theofanopoulou et al., 2023).

Using techniques like breath and muscle tonality control, multifocal attention and sensory retrograde cycling, imprinting, extreme movement dilation, energetic explosion, or embodiment, the practice of this kind of dance allows us to develop and improve our proprioception and kinesthetic abilities (Breiten, 2016). By the activation of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), we can improve our observation and externalization of subtle and involuntary bodily reactions during the execution of movement, reducing conscious effort and refining physical intuition. Regular training can make the performer enhance a greater ability to versatility and for emotional and physical state conscious selection switch during improvisation and performance (Kasai et al 1999).

Our training will lead the body-mind to reach the state of emptiness, referred in dance as butoh-tai or no-mind state. In this state, we could achieve a sense of dissolution of the self and greater harmony movement synchronized with natural rythym. In fact, some dance anthropologists have studied how butoh could help to dismantle habitual thoughts, intentions and movements (Sweeney, R. et al. 2009), which could allow the performer to develop different imaginaries and explore new creative paths at stage.

The power of Dance (Culturas 2)


Theofanopoulou, Constantina, et al. “Mobile brain imaging in butoh dancers: from rehearsals to public performance.” bioRxiv (2023): 2023-02.

Breiten, Jonathan Bradford. “The Butoh Body Performed: Aesthetic and embodiment in butoh dance.” (2016).

Kasai, Toshiharu. “A Butoh Dance Method for psychosomatic exploration.” Memoirs-Hokkaido Institute of Technology 27.1999 (1999): 309-316.

Sweeney, Rachel. Transferring principles: the role of physical consciousness in Butoh and its application within contemporary performance praxis. Diss. Middlesex University, 2009.