Dancer Akiko Motofuji is an institution in her own right. She began studying ballet more than seven decades ago at the age of 3 but -- inspired by the burst of artistic experimentation that swept postwar Japan -- in the 1940s she discarded her points and plunged instead into the world of avant-garde dance.

As the wife of the late dance pioneer Tatsumi Hijikata, Motofuji was involved in the creation of butoh, one of modern Japan's most fascinating art forms.

Now aged 74, Motofuji is still as nimble and energetic as most of the far-younger students who attend her daily dance classes. In an interview with The Japan Times, she reflected on the methodology of butoh, and the personal experiences that shaped her art.