Essentially, Butô always cultivated the metamorphosis as essence of the Being. The body is seen both as human and animal, mineral and vegetal, new-born and dying, dark and bright. Dance is an interior voyage through various layers of time and space. « We are able to find our hidden reality, as if we were to live life and death simultaneously », said Hijikata, and he added: « we have to live with the dead, we must invite them close to our bodies ».
Border, porous: the white make-up in the Butô, like a neutral surface, makes the emotions become unpersonal, withdraws the body from concrete reality, and changes it into a white page where life and death, presence and absence exchange their densities. The face turns into a form that can be moulded without limits, with all possible expressions, like clouds in a changing sky. Writing about Tatsumi Hijikata's preferred dancer, Yoko Ashikawa, She can turn into a wax-puppet, to marble, to mud, to an insect, to a daemon, to a witch, to a dog, a baby, a corpse. Her smile is the smile of a ghost, an old woman, a doll, a stone, a young girl, a wind ; she can express the loneliness of the soul, when all creatures keep quiet before the mystery of existence, the smile that appears to be the only way to resist the trembling of nothingness ». And Hijikata used to call these expressions of the face « Hito-gata », which is the name of the folded paper figurines which are meant to conjure up the Gods.
Whoever has seen Carlotta Ikeda dancing knows to what point she masters that art of metamorphosis, how she can make it at the same time obvious and invisible, how she can extend the time of the vision in a « slowness of movement allowing all possible interpretations » (Paul Claudel). The trembling of nothingness? « The ideal transformation would be to become what does not exist, and to become nothing one should become everything », says Ko Murobushi, choreographic alter ego of Carlotta Ikeda.
The metamorphosis at stake here is not that of an histrion, one who knows how to make a caricature out of expressive imitations. In Carlotta Ikeda, this is a change of inner state, involving the whole body. Unlike the occidental dance, where the techniques are mostly based on dissociation of the different body-parts, Butô involves the body in its organic, articular, sensitive wholeness. In an interview, Carlotta Ikeda tells about Hijikata teaching how to « abandon none of the bodyparts, turn all that is taken for insignificant into unheard-of riches ».