A collaboration on the physical archive of traditional Japanese theatre training

Ami Skanberg Dahlstedt, Disa Kamula

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


What happens when a physical construction formed in a certain religious, artistic or political context is copied and modernized, but with a new agenda? For example: how did the stomping of feet, originally created by temple dancers to protect Japan from earthquakes, become professional performer training, something that the actor must endure to become a paid actor?1 The performers: Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt, trained in Kyoto by Nihon Buyo master Nishikawa Senrei, and Disa Kamula, trained in the Suzuki Actor Training Method by master Ellen Lauren in Helsinki and in New York, share their interest for traditional Japanese theatre and dance. At the 2014 Nordic Summer University winter symposium in Vilnius they created a dialogue on the physical construction of performer training. A comparison of embodied knowledge of traditional suriashi and suzuki walks was made, while walking in a certain physical construction: on bent legs, with parallel feet, and with a straight back. A comparison and a reflection on what was considered correct walking or thinking, according to different schools i.e. Suzuki, Nishikawa, Kanze. The talking and walking somehow related to the peripatetic tradition of Aristotle. The physical dialogue revealed different issues and arguments to explain why a certain construction would be necessary for the performer. It revealed the political context: either the performer is responsible for saving the surrounding society with his/her movements, or responsible for her/his own fortune and fame with a physically correct structure. Disa and Ami want to share the work that they have created with their practice-based research path. They are addressing the questions of relationship of cultural artefacts (training methods) to memory, discrimination, censorship and social agreements around memorialization and the construction of Asian ‘canons’, for example the Suzuki Actor Training or Suriashi. They will do their presentation in a dialogue while walking in Suriashi and in Suzuki´s different grammars of the feet.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2014

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