Body

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The body is the Tabernacle, Bride, and theosoma—the body that belongs to God. This body is always being moved as if attached to golden strings ultimately pulled by God.

In Butoh, we are always “being moved.” Perfect. Herein rests the koan—that by offering ourselves as vessels, puppets, or slaves to God, we become free.

Who is the audience, the witness to the offering of our body? God, angels, and neighbor.

Love Dust

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

In Theokinesis, our bodies are love dust, enlivened by the boundless love of our Heavenly Father. Forged from the very essence of Love itself, it is our divine calling to embody and radiate this foundational love in every aspect of our existence. With all that we possess, including the fullness of our physical being, we are to engage in acts of love, allowing our every action to be a testament to the love with which we were created.

With every cell of our body, we praise and worship God, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Orans Body

At the very heart of our kinesthetic expression of love, prior to any other action we might consider, is the orans. From the orans, comes gestures such as the hug which is a universal gesture of love, a simultaneous offering and acceptance of love.

In Theokinesis, the orans is the foundational movement from which emerges all other movement. The orans is often observed in Christian art and iconography as someone with arms raised or stretched out, oriented outwards, expressing prayer and adoration.

Ash Body

I am reduced to dust and ashes.

Job 30:19

The foundational standing position in Theokinesis is the ash body, possibly the most recognized position in butoh dance theatre. When it animates, it either becomes the ash walk—a body that walks as if it were an ash pillar—or a hairsplittingly slow dance.

Clouded Body

What distinguishes butoh from any other movement form such as mime or interpretive dance is that butoh is not concerned with necessarily 100% communicating what is happening internally. Dancers cloud the body and so let themselves move in abstraction, dreamscape, or stream of consciousness. This dreambodiment does not mean that onlookers will not feel the Holy Spirit.

We can distinguish between two clouded body states: (1) Worldly and (2) Godly.

Worldly Clouded Body

In the worldly clouded body, our dance is in constant resonance/reverence for God’s creation—the vast multitude of life’s differentiations or worlds that hit us at every moment. We are moved by them. We do not move ourselves. In this way, we engage with a dance of the tamed ego. Everything we are moved by comes with a sense of gratitude. But most importantly, the things we resonate with are those things we sense bring us closer to God, not further away from him.

Godly Clouded Body
Gustave Dore (1832 – 1883)

Discard every created thing and every rational activity, if possible, and raise your heart above all things to God alone. The time has come for you to neglect your own works and conceptions and everything else except this naked intent stretching in desire toward God. Do nothing, neither understandings nor sweet affections nor sensible imaginings nor anything else. Nothing. Cover it up with a thick cloud of forgetting.

The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous (14th c.)

In the Godly Clouded Body, we take inspiration from the quote above. The same concept is present in John of the Cross’s night of sense. We envelop everything in a veil, directing our focus solely on God. Movement may not be possible but should one feel guided to move as a vessel of God, surrender to that divine guidance and allow yourself to be moved.

Holy Water Bag

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

John 7:38

As modern humans, we have a tendency to use more effort than is needed to engage in movement. If we learn to surrender or let things flow more, our bodies will thank us. Noguchi Taiso is one such movement discipline that evokes the effortless body by drawing upon fluidity (water), gravity, strings, and impulses. Gravity is not fought against, but embraced. Michizo Noguchi (the founder) at times even gave workshops at Hijikata’s Asbestos studio.1

We transform the Noguchi Taiso water bag body into a sacred vessel, where the water within becomes holy water. This process is not only about cultivating ease and nurture in our movements but also about nourishing our souls.

Baby

The innocence of infancy, or of little ones, is not real innocence, since it is solely a matter of outward form and not internal. Still, we can learn from it what innocence is like, since it does radiate from their faces and from some of their gestures and from their first efforts at speech and the affects [of people around them. The reason it is not real innocence is] that they do not have any internal thought—they do not yet know what good and evil are, or what true and false are, and this knowledge is the basis of our thinking.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772)

The baby is an incredible inspiration due to their outer innocence and movement patterns. Movements coming from babies are complex, yet free. There is detail dance (subtle movement), playfulness, immense curiosity, shifting timings, connection with the ground, and whole body (whole body engaged).

2 Exercises
Exercise 1: Angels as Wise Infants

[In Heaven] innocence dwells in wisdom and why angels have as much wisdom as they do innocence. They support the truth of this by observing that people in a state of innocence do not take credit for anything good, but ascribe and attribute everything to the Lord. They want to be led by him and not by themselves, they love everything that is good and delight in everything that is true because they know and perceive that loving what is good—that is, intending and doing good—is loving the Lord, and loving what is true is loving their neighbor. […]

In the highest sense, a wise infant is an angel.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772)

Using the prompt above from the Swedish Christian mystic Swedenborg, we enter into the angelic world of the wise infant.

Exercise 2: God’s Nurturing

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Isaiah: 49:15

We get into a fetal position and feel God like a mother is always there for you. Dance this world.

Video Clip Example: In the Theokinesis piece A Living Sacrifice from 1:30 to 2:00, the infant is on a nurturing Father’s lap while floating in holy waters.

Warmups

The following exercises can serve to warmup the entire body or parts of the body.

3 Exercises
Exercise 1: Fish In Body

There is a fish which is also a symbol of Christianity and faith. The body is empty except for water and one feels the fish swimming throughout the different parts of the body. The body moves accordingly. Gradually the fish multiply. Do the fish take us on a journey of faith or walking in the path of Christ?

Exercise 2: The Valley of Dry Bones

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

Ezekiel 37:4-10
Valley of Dry Bones by Gustave Dore (1832 – 1883)

Initially, experience the sensation of being mere dry bones on the ground. Then, feel the bones move as if manipulated by an external force, akin to the handling a suspended human skeleton model. The bones are not yet alive.

After experiencing this dry skeleton world, return to the ground as a sack of lifeless and motionless dry bones. Then, feels the miracle of God. The marrow of the bones begin filling with Life, The Holy Spirit. Tendons and muscles begin to generate. The organs and the skin regenerate. Christ’s breath resurrects the body to a standing position. The dance of the resurrected warrior begins.

Exercise 3: Faith Marks

By integrating biblically based imagery into specific body parts, one can allow God to guide the central nervous system towards a more efficient engagement of muscles for various physical actions. This process enables the breaking of old movement patterns and inefficient habits. Such practice resembles the essence of ideokinesis, a discipline rooted in the use of symbolic imagery for body conditioning.2

Any of these exercises can go through de/reterritorizliation also known as water-to-wine. A faith mark that occurs in one body part but can always be shifted to another. The way to take these faith marks to the next level is through transition, connecting them via story or scenery. The following are example faith marks:

Stigmata Hands

The wounds of Christ develop on the hands which cause the hands to open. The wounds close which cause the hands to close.

Video Clip Example: In the Theokinesis piece A Living Sacrifice from 10:51 to 11:06, the hands are stricken with the stigmata after detaching from the cross.

Flame Above Head

The flame is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Place the flame above the head. The flame guides the head to move.

Olive Branch Arms

The olive branch is a symbol of peace and hope. The arms move like olive branches that bring peace to the world.

  1. Nicely, Megan V. (2018). Butoh’s subversive somatics. Journal Of Dance & Somatic Practices, 10(1), pp. 114. ↩︎
  2. Bernard, Andre. Steinmuller, Wolfgang. Stricker, Ursula. Ideokinesis: A Creative Approach to Human Movement & Body Alignment. Berkely, California. 2003. Page 14, 23. ↩︎