Japan holds the macabre distinction of being the only country to have had not one but two atomic bombs dropped on it. Although not strictly a product of that devastation, the mesmerizing Japanese dance form, butoh, which emerged after World War II, was a stark departure from traditional Japanese dance, and much has been written about its being a reflection of an artistic struggle to find meaning in an apocalyptic world. Local audiences have a stellar opportunity to experience butoh in the hands of a master, Katsura Kan. One of the first generation of butoh artists, Kan has visited here before, enthralling L.A. audiences in his rare local appearances. He returns for two special performances under the banner Oracle & Enigma. Joining him are selected dancers from across the United States. It's a hopeful sign as the world marks the 65th anniversary since August 6 and August 9, 1945, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki became part of the history books. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 20-21, 8:30 p.m.; $20; $15 students and seniors. (310) 315-1459, highwaysperformance.org.

Fri., Aug. 20, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 21, 8:30 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly