Practice: Dance as the Prayer of Instinct (w Imre Thormann)

Imre Thorman is a renowned Butoh dancer and Noguchi Taiso practitioner. He has a very interesting and honest approach to movement and dance and his practice is very inspiring for ∞OS.

In this second series of the interviews we ask Imre to share his point of view on dance: what it is, why it’s important, and what it actually means to move, to be moved, and to move others.

The implications of this approach go far beyond the field of dance: anybody who’s interested in dynamics knows that any change has a significance only when it expresses something. Expression can be measured in difference. Therefore, it’s interesting to learn about the approach to expression and movement in dance, as it can be applicable to other areas of life dealing with change: from intersubjective relations to the study of dynamical systems.

Below are the video excerpts from the second series of the interview and the transcripts.

If you’re interested, you can also watch the first part of the interview with Imre Thormann, where he talks about the natural principles of movement, based on the spirals, waves and gravity – something that for him is at the basis of dance. First, you “clean” your body, reaching for the natural within, then you infuse it with expression in order to access deeper layer and avoid superficiality and simulation.


In this first video Imre talks about the dance as a way of revealing the inner beauty of the human being, expressing the inner flower.


In this next video Imre continues to talk about dance, saying that dance is a research on movement: what it is, how to move, how to be moved, how to move other people. And as life is also a constant movement, then dance is the research on life itself.


Imre goes on to remember Kazuo Ono’s (the famous Butoh dancer from Japan), who once said “dance is the prayer of instinct”. It is through this prayer of instinct, according to Imre, we can access to the inner forces that move us and discover what it’s like to be moved.


When asked about his particular style of dance, where one shape is followed by next, Imre responds that life for him is about continuous change and dance is an expression of that.


Imre also draws a very interesting parallel between dance and walking: what it means to stand, what it means to make the first step, what it means to walk… For him, the dance starts when you look for your stand~point (“that is the whole life”). When you’re standing you’re showing your standpoint, with your being, with your posture… Being aware of what you express… when you stand, when you make the first step, leaving everything behind, and when you walk.


Drawing on Butoh Imre talks about the walk as a dance. When we live, we walk, but every step also makes us closer to death. Imre talks about this dichotomy and dialectics between the creation and destruction, between something that develops and something that deteriorates.


In this last video Imre talks about implementing images into one’s own body through dance to better understand life.


Question: What is dance for you and why is it important?

Imre Thormann:
[takes a fig] I had once a chinese girl in a workshop here, she said in chinese a fig tree called a tree without flowers. Because that is true: a fig tree has no flower, but actually the fig has the flower inside. So this flower grows inside. [opens the fig] And here now… since it’s quite dry here, you see how when it’s open how beautiful, how fruitful, how lively this flower is. This fruit is [hidden inside] this rather unspectacular skin here, and that is a little bit the same in a human, maybe more in a metaphorical way…

There’s a beauty inside of everybody, the beauty of the creation, the beauty of the being and that beauty is often covered with something, covered with the clothes, covered with a mental state, covered with habitual movement, rules of society, of the civilization…

What we try is to open that body, that this inner flower can grow, that this inner flower can express itself, that this inner beauty can be shown up, because otherwise when you don’t do that, when you close it, when you just close it, you harm yourself. You work against your nature that’s why it’s so important to have those two things together. The physical movement, the opening…but then it’s also the touching… the smell comes out… the color comes out…


Dance is movement. Of course it’s a movement in a certain way, it’s maybe a movement without a real purpose… Movement can be also [something else] – a carpenter has a movement, a baker has a movement.

And dance is the movement itself, which then of course includes the question of the beauty,
the research for the beauty, the research of the movement, what it means a movement… How you move other people. If you just dance for yourself it’s something different, but if you dance on stage, then you move other people. Dance for me is the research of life, with all the questions, even philosophical questions… they are directly involved in the dance… Maybe even in every step.



You can learn more about Imre’s work and see the schedule of his regular workshops at his beautiful house / garden in South France on his website: