Dance Marathon Journal #6

Ng Yi-Sheng

August 30, 2015



Archivist - Choreographer


Born in Osaka in 1970, ZAN YAMASHITA is a choreographer and performance-maker. Today, he is based in Kyoto, where he creates experimental works that have been performed in Japan and abroad. Among his works are “It Is Written There”, which asks audiences to turn the pages of a 100-page book while watching the action onstage; “It’s Just Me, Coughing”, in which ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ signs and text from haikus are projected onto a screen corresponding with a body; “The Sailors”, which sees performers dance on a swaying stage; and “It Is Something Like A Garden”, which is a network of communication using abandoned rubbish.


Title of archived dance: Daikoushin (A Grand March)

What is the concept of your Archive Box?

I was most concerned with how I would convey the mysterious elements of the piece without undermining their integrity. It would have been easy to superficially explain the contents of this 30-minute performance. However, I had a conflicting desire to somehow archive the inexplicable aspects of the work, rather than its explicable parts. Thus, I came up with the idea of recording my voice into cassette tapes. Characteristics unique to a cassette tape recorder – including the air noise that would otherwise be completely removed in a digital recording and the inconvenience of its operation in terms of pressing play, fast-forward and rewind – provided a clue as to how to archive something that essentially could not be archived. Nonetheless, I regret that I could not use this media beyond the realm of a metaphor. 

As the original stage set was full of props, I did not think it was possible to include in the archive specific items from that first dance. However, an archive consisting only of a cassette recorder and tapes felt colourless and bare. Therefore, I added balloons and lozenges, which were just a handful of the colourful props used in the original. One of the reasons I included these articles was because they were readily available in my house, whereas most of the other props were put away in my collaborating set designer’s storage facility.

As supplementary information, I put on a piece of A4 paper the spoken text from the original work and the website address with a link to the work’s video documentation. I was not sure whether to include the video in my archive or not, but decided to print out its web-link address on paper. If a user felt that they really needed to, they could type in the long address of the YouTube link and watch the video.

By whom and in what way would you like your Box to be used?

I do not have any particular preference as to whom I would like to use my Archive Box, although I was interested in finding out what would happen if the user was a female dance-maker.

What would you like to leave for the future by creating this Archive Box?

Since I am still at the stage of developing my archive through trial and error, it is difficult for me to make any statement about the distant future. For the near future, however, I hope that the archive can transmit knowledge to future generations about particular historical backgrounds and circumstances – in which people, mainly in the field of performing arts, have arrived at the idea of addressing alterity in choreography. In this way, I would like my Archive Box to become one of the layers within the accumulation of developments in the arts.

With thanks to The Saison Foundation for permitting SIFA to reproduce this interview with Zan Yamashita.





40min, followed by intermission

Double Bill with Some Experiments In A Decade And A Half


  • 2015