Ugly Duckling Presse

Costume en Face: A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls
Costume en Face: A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls

Tatsumi Hijikata

translated by Sawako Nakayasu

designed by Steven Chodoriwsky

Theater/Performance/Dance | $17 $14
Spring 2015
"His words are fingers between which sand slips." — Kurihara NanakoAs the founding father of the radical dance form that he called Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986) is a legendary figure in the history of art and contemporary dance. Though influenced by Western artists and writers—the expressionist dance of Mary Wigman, the writings of Artaud, de Sade, Bataille, and Genet, and the drawings and paintings of Goya, Picasso, Toyen, Beardsley, and others--he was dedicated to the particular experience of the marginalized, Japanese suffering body after World War II. In the mid-1970s, Hijikata became concerned with developing notation for his Butoh, and some of these Butoh-fu notations remain, largely in the form of notebooks transcribed by his disciples. Costume en Face is the first publication of one of Hijikata's notebook notations in either English or Japanese. In it we can see, for the first time, the profound interconnectedness of language and body in Hijikata's process of composition.

Design by Steven Chodoriwsky.Excerpt ˇ


Peacocks already in place when curtains rise 4 iterations


Stand up with dead cylindrical tree
Dissecting Picasso with face of idiot
Line: "You know it"

Come around and confess
YajirobeClose ˆ

About the Author

Tatsumi Hijikata
Photo credit: Torii Ryozen
Tatsumi Hijikata was born in Japan in 1928. He founded the radical dance form known as Butoh, which requires dancers to internalize complex and often grotesque images, experiences and perspectives in order to produce precise movements. Even after his abrupt death in 1986, his dance works and writings continue to be extremely influential.

About the Translator

About the Designer

Advance Praise

One of the strangest and most beautiful dance books to come along in a while. [...] Somewhere between score and poem, the notebook takes on a kinetic life of its own, about as close to dancing as words on a page can get.—Siobhan Burke, The New York Times
Hijikata’s language implies meanings and feelings that logical language cannot convey. His words are fingers between which sand slips. —Kurihara Nanako, The Drama Review