The-Weight-Of-Detritus-Constance Humphries
Photo: Caren Harris

Constance Humphries started dance training at age five and has been making, performing and teaching dance since 1987. As a choreographer and performer, her work is firmly rooted in the rigorous study and practice of traditional and contemporary butoh dance and is also informed by her training in Noguchi Taiso, contemporary and modern dance, performance art and sound.

Butoh is often referred to as the dance of utter darkness. In this darkness are the unconscious body and mind. It is through excavating what is underneath consciousness that Humphries seeks meaning and inspiration for her creative practice, which investigates and addresses issues of liminality, love, vulnerability and intimacy.

Ms. Humphries received a BFA from the University of North Carolina, Asheville NC, USA in 1994. From 1987 until 1995, Humphries was a member of the modern dance company, Wall St. DanceWorks after which she began performing primarily as a solo artist. In 2005, Humphries began studying and practicing butoh dance, receiving instruction from many internationally respected butoh teachers and performers, including Seisaku and Yuri, Yumiko Yoshioka, Yuko Kaseki, Atsushi, Sayoko Onishi, Maya Dunsky, Mari Osanai; and, her butoh mentor and colleague, Julie Becton Gillum, who has studied with Yoshito Ohno, Natsu Nakajima, Akaji Maru, Diego Piñon and others. In addition to her staged performances, she creates experimental, covert, site-specific and street performances, some of which are recorded and produced for screen.

Constance has presented her performances and workshops internationally, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and the US.

2015/2016 projects include a residency at Experimental Studios, Newcastle, UK, the Just Gather Film Festival, Edinburgh, UK; Help! at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, UK; Black Mountain College Museum’s Interlude festival, Asheville, NC; Context, Pretext, Subtext: Words in Art, Art in WordsMars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC and the 11th Asheville Butoh Festival.

For 2017/2018, Humphries was chosen as Artist in Residence at Revolve Project Space. Residency projects include Entanglements, a collaboration with Linda Larsen, Adam Larsen and Kima Moore; ReSound, a collaboration with Sonic Parlor and Denice Carbonell; and Am I Who I Am? , a solo exhibition of screen dance + a live performance (and an album). She also performed at the Black Mountain College’s {Re}Happening festival. In May, 2018, she performed a new work, The Daydreamers’ Ball for Strange and Broken Things Of Questionable Circumstances at Asheville Butoh Collective‘s show, Dirt, Dreams and Death. The piece was also performed at Bamburgh House Project Space, Newcastle, UK in July, 2018.

In 2019, Humphries premiered a new work, The Beautiful Us at the 13th Asheville Butoh Festival. Additionally, her screen-based was included in the Asheville Art Museum’s Appalachia Now exhibition and in Beyond Knowing at the Asheville Area Arts Council.

A passionate educator, Humphries teaches butoh workshops and classes. She is a former member of Asheville Butoh Collective , the former assistant director of the Asheville Butoh Festival and former co-producer of Frame + Form Screendance Festival.

She is based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

About Butoh: Originating in post WWII Japan, butoh is a potent and revolutionary dance form. Butoh uses the body brazenly as a battleground to attain personal, social or political transformation. In its early forms, butoh embraced and referenced Western artistic movements; German Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Existentialism and Fluxus, all of which pervaded the Tokyo underground and the avant-garde arts scene at that time.

In fact, the cofounders of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno trained in German modern dance, which was integral to the development of German Expressionism. But, eventually they took opposite approaches to their dance making. Hijikata’s work became known as ankoku butoh (dance of utter darkness); and, he embraced the grotesque and the absurd, exploring themes of sacrifice, struggle and death. Ohno’s butoh was playful, humorous and filled with light and life.

Today’s butoh is influenced by both Hijikata and Ohno and wrestles to balance those contrary approaches. Philosophically, butoh slips between the cracks of definition in order to reveal the fervent beauty of the unique human spirit.