Butoh and Noguchi Taiso Training with Julie Becton Gillum

Butoh History 

Originating in post WWII Japan, butoh is a potent and revolutionary dance form. Butoh uses the body brazenly as a battleground to attain personal, social or political transformation. In its early forms, butoh embraced and referenced Western artistic movements; German Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Existentialism and Fluxus, all of which pervaded the Tokyo underground and the avant-garde arts scene at that time. In fact, the co-founders of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno trained in German modern dance, which was integral to the development of German Expressionism. But, eventually they took opposite approaches to their dance making. 

Hijikata’s work became known as ankoku butoh (dance of utter darkness); and, he embraced the grotesque and the absurd, exploring themes of sacrifice, struggle and death. 

Ohno’s butoh was playful, humorous and filled with light and life. Today’s butoh is influenced by both Hijikata and Ohno and wrestles to balance those contrary approaches. Philosophically, butoh slips between the cracks of definition in order to reveal the fervent beauty of the unique human spirit.

Noguchi Taiso 

“The materials that constitute our bodies are undoubtedly of this earth and have participated in and experienced the creation process . . . Our body, living here and now, includes the history of the earth.”  Michizo Noguchi

Michizo Noguchi, a gymnastics coach and founder of this method in post-WWll Japan, was confronted with a realization that when everything else is gone the body still remains alive and subject to gravity. He used the body as a primary source and tool for developing a new kind of movement practice based in principles of nature, the way matter moves in space and time. The human body is 70% water, the rest is earth materials. Noguchi proposes that natural effort free movement does not fight gravity but embraces it, using its force to assist the movement. A main principle of Noguchi Taiso is movement as a reaction. Instead of making a move intentionally the practitioner creates the conditions for the movement to arise as a natural response.

Noguchi Taiso has been adopted by many butoh, dance and theatre practitioners in Japan especially for its ability to empty the body of various learned, superficial and culturally derived patterns of behavior, making it more transparent, aligning it with the more universal forces that are at play.

“13 Aspects of Butoh”

“13 Aspects of Butoh” is an ongoing research project designed by Julie Becton Gillum in order to discover the essential nature of butoh and how it differs from other dance and theater forms. Gillum has been creating and sharing workshops based on her personal research since 2010. Some of the “Aspects: such as “Space”, “Time” and “Force” are basic to all forms of dance. However some aspects are more specific to butoh and Japanese aesthetics, such as: “Ma,” “Jo-ha-kyu,” “Ghost of Self”, “Dance Like a Child,” “Every Dance is a Prayer,” “Masculine and Feminine.” Many of the “Aspects” began as quotes from my butoh mentors during training sessions. It is these, more obscure body concepts, that we will delve deeply into during our training at Earthdance. Transformation, interior and exterior space, sensation and presence will be at the core of our butoh investigations. I will explain the concepts of “Ma” and “Jo-ha-kyû” to give examples as to how they will be used in the workshop. 

Guided explorations of concepts such as “ma” and “Jo-ha-kyû” encourage students to examine Japanese aesthetic principles through experience with movement timing, phrasing and forming.

Dancers, actors, martial artists, yoga practitioners and anyone interested in exploring their own personal capacity for movement expression is welcome to join Butoh and Noguchi Taiso Training. This training is appropriate for all levels.

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Gillum’s intention is to introduce Noguchi Taiso as a warm up and perfect companion to butoh; afterwards she will guide lessons selected from “13 Aspects of Butoh”. Dancers, actors, martial artists, yoga practitioners and anyone interested in exploring their own personal capacity for movement expression is welcome to join Butoh and Noguchi Taiso Training. This training is appropriate for all levels. 

Noguchi Taiso water body practice feeds and prepares the body, releasing unnecessary tension and creating the conditions for movement to emerge as a natural response for life, dance, performance and sports. The Noguchi Taiso system as well as butoh training help to eliminate socially and culturally derived habits and behaviors, creating a more open and fluid vessel through which natural and free impulses can flow with minimal resistance. The body learns to move using its own weight and to heighten its sensitivity in order to move efficiently from its most relaxed and receptive state. Noguchi and butoh practitioners discover how imagination, thoughts and mental attention can change the quality of the physical form. During the Butoh practice dancers will be guided to develop their own movement through explorations from “13 Aspects of Butoh.”

Arrival, Onsite Check-In, Opening Circle and COVID testing

  • Arrival: Participants may arrive starting at 4:00 pm on Thursday, May 11th.
  • Onsite Check-In: The welcoming will commence from 4:00pm-7:00pm on Thursday, May 11th, 2023. Please email site@earthdance.net if you think you cannot make it during the check-in times.
  • Opening Circle: Friday, May 12th at 10 am. All participants are asked to attend
  • COVID Testing: Please make sure that you have tested for COVID on the day of arrival. If needed, participants may purchase tests from Earthdance for $10 each.

Equity & Access Tickets 

Although we’re not able to offer any full scholarships this year, we’re excited to offer up to 10 highly reduced Equity & Access Tickets to individuals who feel part of an underrepresented and/or marginalized group in CI and have a relationship with CI.  We know that for those who come from marginalized populations showing up to spaces filled with primarily privileged groups can be a challenge, and can feel vulnerable. “Apply” and see more details here. For transparency and context, in the past, and we hope in the near future, we offered 3-5 full DEI scholarships.

For those who do not identify as marginalized and are in a represented group of CI, we invite you to stretch in your payment to help support those who cannot stretch and create a more diverse jam experience for all. 

Note: While Earthdance is making efforts to better support Equity & Access at all its events, the New Year’s Winter Jam offers particularly strong support for diversity, equity, and inclusion through:

  • Reduced pricing offered to people self-identifying as being underrepresented and/or marginalized in CI.
  • Classes and discussions that aim to bring up the level of awareness and inclusion at the jam as a whole
  • affinity spaces (jams, discussions, etc.) for particular groups of people to connect, share CI space together, and rest from the pressures of being in a minority status at the jam.

Our Fees Explained

Earthdance offers a sliding scale payment for participation in this event, please take a moment to reflect as you decide on where you best fit. 

Your level of contribution is self selected and does not need to be advocated for. However, we invite you to remember this contribution is currency and we ask that you stretch where you are able so that those who cannot stretch as far of a financial distance may also have potential access to community events. As you choose your rate please consider the following factors:

  • Your access to income and wealth, as connected to family and partnership, both currently and anticipated in the future.
  • The historical, systemic impacts of wealth accrual based on culture, race and other intersection marginalizations for you and your family.
  • The regional ease of your attendance, while some community members can drive to Earthdance, others will need to consider tuition based on their ability to travel longer distances. 
  • Earthdance is a community and rental funded organization which recently, historically and uniquely through the Covid-19 pandemic has struggled to have viable income.



$575 – Financially Wealthy

$500 – Financially Abundant

$475 – Financially Stable 

$375 – Financially Coping

$325 – Financially Strained


$550 – Financially Wealthy

$475 – Financially Abundant

$400 – Financially Stable 

$350 – Financially Coping

$300 – Financially Strained


Gratitude Lodge at Earthdance Tickets – Include room at the Earthdance Dormitory and food for the weekend.

The Gratitude Lodge (a.k.a. the Earthdance dorm) is the main lodging facility, connected to the Farmhouse by a short wooded trail. The lodge includes large and small rooms featuring dormitory-style bunks and beds (twin & queen size) and is included in the base Jam cost. Beds are available on a first come basis.

Camping Tickets – Include a spot to camp on the Earthdance property and food for the weekend.

Cancellation Policy

Refund available up to 14 days before the event less a $75 processing fee. 

No refunds available less than 14 days from the start of the event.

Partial refunds might be given if a cancellation takes place under extenuating circumstances (e.g. a death of a 1st or 2nd degree family member, serious non-preventable illness or accident requiring hospitalization). Refunds in such cases remain at the discretion of the local organizers and will be decided on a case to case basis according to the timing of the cancellation and other factors.

COVID Precautions and Testing

No specific requirements on vaccination status are needed to attend the Spring Jam. However, ALL registrants are required to take an antigen test on the day of, before arriving on Thursday, May 11th at Earthdance. If you need a test, Earthdance will have them available to purchase for $10 each. 

Please take adequate measures to limit your exposure in the days before arriving. If you are feeling sick, or have a known close exposure to someone with COVID in the past 5 days, please sit this one out to keep the community well. 

Participation Community Support

Earthdance runs as a​ community, thus part of the participation is that all individuals contribute to 1-2 work shifts (typically meal cleans) throughout the jam/workshop and participate in a final house clean on Sunday. These are great ways to connect more with your fellow participants and Earthdance staff, and to feel more at home in the Earthdance buildings & grounds. Your contributions to this collective caring of this space are invaluable!

Earthdance’s buildings are ADA accessible. More info here.

Earthdance’s Nudity Policy


Julie Becton Gillum is the artistic director of the Asheville Butoh Festival (14 years running), has been creating, performing and teaching dance in the US, Europe, Asia and Mexico for over 40 years. Since 2019 she has been active in Turkey, Ukraine, India and other areas in Europe. Julie has received numerous grants and awards for her choreography. She was awarded the 2008-09 NC Choreography Fellowship and used the funds to travel to Japan to study Butoh, her primary form of artistic expression. Julie’s work has been influenced by extensive study with mentors: Mari Osanai, Diego Pinon, Natsu Nakajima, Anzu Furakawa, Yoshito Ohno and Seisaku.

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