“so-treu: bonesarecoralmade: Mr. Ohno was a star athlete and a poor student, but his life changed when a college administrator at the Japan Athletic College, where he was enrolled, took him to see a performance by Antonia Merce, known as La Argentina, the renowned Spanish dancer, modernist and feminist. She was to inspire “Admiring La Argentina,” a 1977 Ohno work widely regarded as a classic.
After graduation, Mr. Ohno taught dance in a high school in Yokohama. After seeing a performance by Harald Kreutzberg, a disciple of the German Expressionist choreographer Mary Wigman, he began training with two Japanese modern-dance pioneers, Baku Ishii and Takaya Eguchi, a choreographer who had studied with Wigman.
Wigman’s influence is discernible in Mr. Ohno’s work. But no doubt another inspiration was the wartime horrors he witnessed firsthand after being drafted in 1938 into the Japanese Army, in which he served for nine years, one of them as a prisoner of war in New Guinea.
The rawness of Butoh has often been attributed to the experience of living through Hiroshima. One of Mr. Ohno’s earliest works, “Jellyfish Dance,” created in the 1950s, grew out of seeing jellyfish swimming in water where combatants, dead from hunger and disease, had been buried at sea.
Mr. Ohno started his career comparatively late, coming naturally through age to the Butoh look of an unlovely body, thin and wrinkled and far from the stereotypical dance ideal. He presented his first recital, a joint performance with Mitsuko Ando, in 1949 in Tokyo, at the age of 43. In the audience was Tatsumi Hijikata, the father of Butoh — or Ankoku Butoh (Dance of Utter Darkness), as the form was originally called.
Hijikata invited Mr. Ohno to join his dance collective, and the two worked together from 1959 to 1966 in pieces whose influences included the writings of Jean Genet, Comte de Lautréamont and Mishima. Kazuo Ohno, a Founder of Japanese Butoh, Dies at 103 (via bonesarecoralmade-deactivated20)”—