Dance Marathon Journal #7

Ng Yi-Sheng

August 30, 2015





NATSUKO TEZUKA started her career as a solo dancer in 1996, changing her style from mime to dance. She kicked off her “Anatomical Experiment” series with the theme of body observation in 2001, creating a work that was a finalist for the Toyota Choreography Award in July 2002. She has participated in international exchange programmes and presented her works in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Berlin, Poland, Jakarta and Rio de Janeiro. To encourage dancers to discuss and share with one another their styles and methods in the practice of contemporary dance, she organised the “Dojo-Yaburi” project. 


Title of the archived dance: The Anatomical Experiment – 6 “Voyage From Idol” (2012)

What is the concept of your Archive Box?

The concept of the Archive Box was to have a user conduct the following experiment: re-evaluating vernacular cultures, festivals and performing arts that existed prior to Western modernism. Then, by doing so, the user would illuminate how events pertaining to Western modernisation in non-Western regions have affected the present. In order to share with the user the process I went through to create this piece, I made an instruction manual allowing them to experience the same process.

Below is an excerpt from the instruction manual.

• Target Users of Archive Box

Non-Western countries and regions have experienced various changes during the era of Westernisation and Western modernisation. I would like artists who feel that these influences have brought about radical shifts in values within their own cultural spheres (or countries) to engage in the following tasks.

• Instructions

i. Observe at least three examples of cultural activities (festivals, performing arts, rituals etc.) within the cultural sphere (or country) of your residence that still retain, even if only vaguely, aspects of a time before the aforementioned shifts occurred.

ii. Observe how these activities (festivals, performing arts and rituals) were affected by events and circumstances of different times, and how such influences have formed layers within these activities. Within these layers, find a fragment of values from the past. Observe this fragment in relation to various eras leading up to the present.

(The instruction continue…)

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

I observed my personal unease and discomfort toward life and looked back at history in search of its cause. Consequently, I felt that my sense of hardship was related to a certain factor of modernisation in Japan. This became the central theme of my work. Hence, I wanted to share my awareness about this issue with people from different countries, especially those from the non-Western world, so as to evaluate it from different perspectives.

Was there anything you were not able to realise in the project? Were there any unexpected outcomes?

It was challenging for me to explain to people from English-speaking regions what I meant by the word ‘experiment’.

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

I want to leave behind something that will serve as a hint when exploring the following questions: What is happening now? How does an individual confront this question in the year 2015? If we could communicate these concerns to people in the future, would it enable them to ask themselves how they should live in their present and how they should confront these questions?

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 Natsuko Tezuka.





1h15 no intermission

Double Bill with Daikoushin (A Grand March)


  • 2015