including perspectives: the fold and butoh dance

My interest here is to overlap Deleuze’s (and Leibniz incorporated through the lens of Deleuze) approaches to the fold, Baroque and perception to Butoh Dance.

The video lecture starts with Deleuze informing his students that the department of Philosophy wants to do experiment with video recordings. This instance bring forward the theme of the lecture: including perspectives and the fold.

Here are discussed the Baroque, Leibniz and the fold progressing into Pascal’s triangle to then tackle the problem of perspectives: (here below is a piece of text translated by me from the video lecture)

Is there a universal point of view, a universal perspective? Possible, but it does not suppress the single point of perceptions. In front of something either you say “it doesn’t matter” this being total chaos or you start building your point of view.

How to build perspectives that allow me to incorporate and order also the opposites? The genetic element is a view point – a single the view point is the genetic element.

How do we get there? Deleuze reflects on the Baroque practice of rounding corners- “arrondissement des coins“: to make folds to infinite rounded corners. All corners are rounded by the infinite folding. Leibniz does same. It takes the folds and brings it to the infinite.

In Butoh dance, is there a similar process? Can I perceive the folds in my body? to find a fold – unfolding refolding – can this imply the doing folding and unfolding through edges, warps and creation?. Hijikata asked “what is a warped body?” There is a sort of parallel between the fold and the warped body. The rounding of corners to create an inflection of variable curve in the body can be understood as becoming warped and creating the warped. This movement of breaking lines in Butoh dance and becoming warped is fundamental for creation.

Hijikata’s Butoh body-method notation details the work moved by questions that saw him engaged twenty four hours to attain the warped-body*, to dig into to, unravel and bring into dance:

“Hijikata investigated in the warped qualia through the life. he finally dig out the deepest warped qualia as his last butoh dance: A girl. The dead sister was one of the deepest warped qualia for him. Why his favourite sister had to leave from home when he was child and had to sell her body in a foreign city.
It was a unsolved mystery for him in his childhood. He investigated it through his life. And finally he could success to reverse the warped qualia as the creation of the butoh”**

While unwarping/warping we meet edges, corners, we meet folds and we unfold, and as we move, we encounter infinite bifurcations. In this regards, Deleuze looks at folds and sees a bifurcation into which the fold distributes; a low and high plane. The low plane problem is concerned with the folding of the material submitted to the infinite. Material folding constitutes the physical and elastic body that possess the capacity of folding/unfolding, implicate/explicate, envelop/develop. To fold is to involve and to unfold is to evolve our body. These are all notions that manifest in the fold.

The other level, no longer concerned with the material is the plane of the soul/anima (translated from Deleuze french use of the word âme). The folds of the soul/ âme constitute the other plane as forms of infinity or as a general genetic plane. Here we encounter two labyrinths:

Labyrinth of continuum: double-folds and develops in the material

Labyrinth of freedom develops/unfolds in the soul/ âme

The folds of the soul as infinite, and this is what interests Deleuze particularly, the labyrinth of freedom and the plane of the soul.

The low plane and the high place are located in my upper body and lower body and then turned upside-down; I have also an external and internal body, also this can be turned inside out creating a fold and a unfold of planes of soul and material. On my feet, as I try to find them in the material, I can expand, involve, evolve my physical body; while I do this, my soul aches out and avails of general and particular, materialising what the tunnel/labyrinth had in store.

Hijikata and Rhizome Lee, as written in his notation, refer to tunnels we explore in our own body while doing Butoh. We tunnel through the layers of our many bodies and the qualia that arise from there; other times, we seek the qualia externally, and we try to create a transparency in order to allow for resonance to happen within outer and internal planes and bring our bodies to involve and evolve on that fold. The tunnels are like labyrinths, they unfold in the soul.

Can there be a labyrinth that can bring us to an inflection of variable curves? Can there be a perspective that incorporates opposites?

How can we dance the variant curve of all opposites? We do it. We attempt to every time we bring outwards our warp, our fold, and fall into it yet again.

In addressing the possibility of such, Deleuze remarks on the great importance theatre held in the Baroque. Fundamental were the changing scene, scenography and its transformation from one to another. This was a basic element for the Baroque’s sense of theatre aesthetic and movement. There, a chance to witness. To witness a fix point shift, the unfolding of a fold, the transmuting from generic to one perception and to the generic holding one. This bringing to the consideration that objects are “indefinissable” (Deleuze in lecture video).

When we dance Butoh, we go from the generic to the “one point of view” to many points of view. At times all singled out at times all talking together. At times creating new planes that yet have no perspective other that being born. And at times, we are indefinissable.

Thank you for reading. If you wish, leave a comment and share.


Here you can listen to the whole Gilles Deleuze’s Video lecture

* here you can read more on Hijikata’s body-method thanks to Rhizome Lee and

** extract from

p.s I have translated Deleuze’s words as I listened to the lecture. There is a book called “The Fold” by Deleuze.

copyright:Ambra Gatto Bergamasco©

Published by ambra gatto bergamasco

Artist dancer Processual Choreographer Corporeal Dramaturg; Butoh dancer and teacher; Moving Bodies Festival Director and curator, Artistic Director of Compagnia Sperimentale Drammatica/ Espace Productions. Research: Cultural Anthropology_Urban Geography_Art and Geography_Cartography_Score_SiteSpecific_Mental Health_Humans_Ecosystems_Embodied Politics Economies of culture and culture economy

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