Yumiko Yoshioka Biografie

Seeds of Dance

I was born to parents who were working as impresarios,

putting on burlesque dance, juggling and magic shows,

for cabarets in Japan.

As a child, when not playing outside,

I used to swing and shake my body in my own way

to twent LP records of Latin Music,

one after another.

Besame Mucho, Tequila, Mambo Nr 5, El Cumbancello, Little Boy, Amapola,

and more….

I was particularly attracted to a Cuban song called “Babaloo” (Babalú).

I played that song again and again without getting tired.

A slow and mysterious introductory melody

quickly segued into an uplifting rhythm in a festive mood,

and I loved the contrast.

One day when I was eight years old,

I suddenly came up with an idea to make a choreography to that song.

In the first section, a dignified appearance of a mysterious queen,

living in the thick of  a dense jungle,

In the second section, her female servant, holding a pot on her head,

and walking sensually to the rhythm.

I switched on a lamp with a red lampshade in the living room of my house,

absorbed in devotedly dancing each role in turn.

With just my 4 year- old-sister for audience,

this was my first choreography of my life.

Needless to say, it had simple movement in a simple structure,

yet I still can’t forget the excitement and joy at that time.

I realized that dancing and making dance could shake and move


not only our body

but also our soul.

Unfortunately, the feeling of exultation disappeared afterwards

when I became a quiet and ordinary junior and high school student

spending peaceful but flatline days.

There were so many things I wanted to do,

but I didn’t know what to do.

I loved reading books, so I empathized with the characters in the narrative world,

indulged myself in my fantasies,

forgetting the passage of time.

When I became a university student, my life changed radically.

All of a sudden I was captivated to participate in the student movement and civic protest.

I devoted myself to demonstrations and  political activities almost all day, every day,

without going back to my home.

As a young student I was highly motivated by a sense of justice,

and opposition to social injustices,

feeling the necessity to change the system in a better direction.

This was basically true,

but to be completely honest,

it was also a great fun.

I also loved to share solidarity with my friends,

especially when I had to confront the riot police in a group with them.

“We’re fighting together!”

I was electrified by the joy

from the core of my body and soul.

A couple years later and the political movement was fading away,

slowly and quietly, as if it had been already been planned like that

(like a law of „everything has its beginning and its end“).

Despite those passionate days of solidarity and cohesion,

one by one, my friends left the movement

and returned to being ordinary college students as if nothing had happened…

The walls which I had been enthusiastically banging my body against,

slowly began to collapse,

and there was no object left in front of me to be „AGAINST“.

I started to feel an emptiness inside myself,

as if there were a huge hollow gouged in my heart.

Even though my head was filled with lots of information

and my body was overflowing with youthful energy,

I couldn’t find the center of my body and mind.

I was lost, as if wandering in a dark forest.

I spent hard days, suffering from a sensation of being  strangled

by something soft around my neck.

Like an oxygen-deprived goldfish,

desperately gulping for oxygen at the surface of water,

I started to visit museums and theaters to slake my craving

through art and performance.

I knew something for my soul had been missing in my life.

One day, I felt like was struck by lightning,

when I randomly picked up one flyer at the theater.

Wanted Dancers for Butoh Company Ariadone!  No Experience Required.”

Content of Exercises:

Beast, Walking, Oriental, Hanging Body,

Hans Bellmer, Marilyn Monroe

The names resonated with my heart as mysterious enigmas,

and I was also drawn into Andre Masson’s painting on the flyer

of many human bodies wriggling together in a crowd –

I was fascinated by all of them.

I knew nothing of Butoh,

and, on top of that,

I had no experience of dance training.

But I was suddenly possessed by the desire to dance,

and felt „I can dance!“

The next day, I visited the dance studio advertised on the flyer.

A scary looking man with a bald head, beard and mustache opened the door

and stared at me.

To me he looked like a monster about to eat a girl in a fairy tale.

I was so scared I almost turned my back on him.

But at the same time I was so curious to know another world.

I squeezed out my courage, stepped into the house.

And this was the very first day of my  Butoh dance history.

It was winter,

I was 20 years old.

Since then, I have been dancing with twists and turns.

My feeling of suffocation disappeared one week after I started to dance.

There was no time to feel pain and suffering in my completely new

dancing life…

In the meantime, my life moved from Tokyo to Paris,

and from Paris to Berlin…

Since then I have been traveling

from one place to another

through the years.

Though I am mainly based in Berlin,

I find it hard to answer when I am asked where I live.

„My home is my body“.

(I sometimes answer this way, with a little parenthesis.)

In a way it is true.

Not only our own personal memories, but also all the cosmic memories

(from the beginning of time) are hidden in our body.

Where we come from and where we are going to,

it is an eternal mystery, like ourselves and the Universe.

The source of exploration is endless.

Butoh is also called “Dance of Darkness”.

For me, it’s about shining a light into the darkness,

into the Unknown of myself and the Universe,

to revive endless memories

and let them dance.

Sometimes, my body gets moved by the Unknown…

Our shell of ego melts down and we feel united with something else.

This moment is a bliss of dance.

To dance from daily matters or personal feelings

to a trembling of life, or a spirit of nature

To dance “Here, Now” while going back to the first source of life…

They are all connected in infinite resonance,

celebrating the diversity of life and nature.

If the uniqueness of each individual fully comes into bloom,

we also unify with the Universe through a universal body.

This is my vision of dance.

A never-ending process of exploration.

I sometimes remember

the joy of transformation

to the music Babaloo

was the seed of my dance.

No title

Poem of Yumiko Yoshioka

I think I am chasing,

but, without knowing it,

I am the one being chased,

leaving myself behind as I run.

I wish this distance would remain forever.

My body becomes hot, almost torn off,

I don’t know anymore if this is pleasure or suffering

and now I am caught.

I struggle, slip from my skin

and begin the chase once more.

Thus, my dance spirals with friction

between flesh and soul.