Butoh is one of those art forms that, in a heroic attempt to remain open to possibility, refuses to define itself. As in all such forms, those lacking training have few obstacles in defining themselves as practitioners. The result is a lot of not-so-great dance under the moniker of the postWWII Japanese dance form. This is unfortunate, because if you're lucky enough to experience a truly authentic butoh company, rarely will you see anything so exquisitely primal and contemporary at the same time. Leave it to the Asian Art Museum to hand-pick such a company, or in this case, four of them. Thursday's "Harvesting Beauty in the Dark" culminates a six-month collaboration by Japanese butoh icon Katsura Kan, London's salto donec moriar, and San Franciscos Ledoh/SaltFarm and S.F. Butoh Lab. The goal of the project has been to excavate the form's roots from the imagistic poetry of founder Tatsumi Hijikata, known as butoh-fu, and in the process aid the ushering-in of a global "post-butoh" era. A lofty goal, but if the team's efforts help develop a more evolved culture, they will at least have helped the rest of us distinguish so-so butoh-inspired performance art from the real butoh McCoy.
Thu., Jan. 24, 7 p.m., 2008