Aging body in Dance Conference: Freie Universitat Berlin. June 28-30, 2012.

I’ve been invited to present at the following conference, as one of the Fellows of the International Research Centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’, Freie Universitat, Berlin. Details of the conference, follows, or please go to:







Aging Body in Dance: Seeking Aesthetics and Politics of the Body through the Comparison of Euro-American and Japanese Cultures.

This is to be an international conference focusing on the aging body – a subject that has long been the subject of medical, cultural and political research – with special reference to dance.







We shall be looking at culture-specific notions of the beauty and movement, agility and expressiveness of the body as they relate to the status of the aging body in dance. Models will be used for a comparative discussion of the differences in normative discourses and institutions and in gender-related concepts of body and movement between the Euro-American and Japanese dance traditions, i.e. between “youth-oriented” cultures on the one hand and a culture which – like Japan’s – reveres aging dancers as part of the country’s “living heritage” on the other. The distinctions and changes in such traditional cultural patterns in contemporary (globalized) dance as well as the theoretical challenges they pose for dance and cultural research will be pursued in the papers presented at the conference, and as well in the roundtables and presentations of the invited artists. The conference is based on the cooperation of the Zentrum für Bewegungsforschung, FU Berlin, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and is funded by the DFG and the Japan Foundation. For the program and other information see below.

Program, June 28 – 30, 2012

Aging Body in Dance: Seeking Aesthetics and Politics of the Body through the Comparison of Euro-American and Japanese Cultures

Thursday, June 28, 2012

14.00 – 15.00            Arrival/Registration

15.00  Opening: Gabriele Brandstetter (Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin),

Nanako Nakajima (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Saitama)

            Section I: Aging Body in the Context of Postmodern Dance

15.45  Peggy Phelan (San Francisco) The Ends of Dance: Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham

16.45 – Short Break

17.00  Ramsay Burt (Leicester) Yvonne Rainer’s Convalescent dance: on valuing ordinary, everyday, and unidealised bodily states

18.00 – Break

20.00  Jess Curtis (Berlin) Lecture Performance: Jess Meets Angus – Dances for Non/Fictional Bodies (Choreography: Silke Z.)

Post-Performance Talk with Gabriele Brandstetter

Friday, June 29, 2012

Section II: Alternative Dancability: Dis/Ability and Performance

10.00  Ann Cooper Albright (Oberlin) The Perverse Satisfaction of Gravity

11.00  Susanne Foellmer (Berlin) Bodies’ Borderlands: Right in the Middle. Dis/Abilities on Stage

12.00 – Short Break

12.30  Petra Kuppers (Michigan) Grace in the Hospice: Community Dance, Elders, Land

13.30 – Break

            Section III: Aging and Body Politics in Contemporary Dance

15.00  Johannes Odenthal (Berlin) Aging in dance is not an issue. Why are we always asking the wrong questions? On Gerhard Bohner, Koffi Kôkô, Kazuo Ohno, and endless other masters of dance

16.00 – Short Break

16.15  Kikuko Toyama (Saitama) Old, weak, and invalid: dance in inaction

17.15 – Break

20.00  Performance: Theater Thikwa plus Junkan Projekt (Choreography: Osamu Jareo)

Post-Performance Talk with Nanako Nakajima

 Saturday, June 30, 2012

10.00  Kaite O’Reilly (Wales) SILENT RHYTHM: A Reflection on sensory impairment as a source of creativity and inspiration

11.00  Janice Ross (San Francisco) Sexuality and the Aging Body: Anna Halprin Dancing Eros at the End of Life

12.00 – Short Break

            Section IV: Intercultural Perspectives

12.30  Mark Franko (New York) Why are the Hands the Last Resort of the Aged Dancing Body

13.30 – Break

15.00  Yoshito Ohno (Tokyo) Figures of Life

16.00  Tamotsu Watanabe (Tokyo) Flowers Blooming in the Time of Aging

17.00 – Short Break

17.30  Roundtable: Aging Body/ Differently Abled Body? Difference, Convergence and Open Questions (in German with English translations)

Kazuo Fujino (Kobe) – Moderator

Gerd Hartmann (Berlin)

Osamu Jareo (Osaka)

Iku Otani (Kobe) – NPO Dance Box

Nicole Hummel (Berlin) – Theater Thikwa

End of the Program around 19.00


Prof. Ann Cooper Albright (Dance Studies, Oberlin College, US)

Prof. Ramsay Burt (Dance Scholar, De Montfort University, UK)

Jess Curtis (Choreographer, Germany/US)

Juniorprof. Dr. Susanne Foellmer (Dance Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)

Prof. Mark Franko (Dance Scholar, University of California, Santa Cruz, US)

Prof. Kazuo Fujino (Art Management, Kobe University, Japan)

Gerd Hartmann (Director at Theater Thikwa, Germany)

Nicole Hummel (Theater Thikwa Berlin, Germany)

Osamu Jareo (Choreographer, Japan)

Prof. Petra Kuppers (Disability Studies, University of Michigan, US)

Dr. Johannes Odenthal (Dance Curator, Akademie der Künste, Germany)

Yoshito Ohno (Butoh Artist, Japan)

Iku Otani (General director, NPO Dance Box)

Kaite O’Reilly (Dramatist and Disability Artist, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany/UK)

Prof. Peggy Phelan (Performance and Theater Scholar, Stanford University, US)

Prof. Janice Ross (Dance Scholar, Stanford University, US)

Prof. Kikuko Toyama (Dance Studies, Saitama University, Japan)

Prof. Tamotsu Watanabe (Kabuki Critic, Japan)

6 responses to “Aging body in Dance Conference: Freie Universitat Berlin. June 28-30, 2012.

  1. I’m looking forward to the conference!

    • As am I, Rafael, except very unfortunately I will miss many of the presentations, as I will be coming late owing to rehearsals for my Cultural Olympiad show with National Theatre Wales…. I’m looking forward to showing some excerpts from vintage sign dance performance and talking about a commission from Liverpool International Live Art Festival, involving Deaf choreographer/dancer Denise Armstrong, visually impaired artist Alison Jones, and myself also a viz imp… Looking forward to seeing you – and hope your research is going well!

      • I’m excited to hear your talk.
        At the moment I’m quite happy with the progress of my research, thank you.
        I won’t be able to see your Cultural Olympiad show when you perform in Cardiff, but I already have my tickets for your performances in London.
        See you soon!

      • Dear Kaite
        Signdance is an art -form which structurally utilizes.the actual signs used within the content of the dance theatre work ,in-order to structure the choreographic elements
        In a dance -theatre structure ,which allows a narrative whether linear or not to infuse a piece of work,sign-theatre both envelops and develops both the choreographic structure and “narrative lines
        this is also true of tany music structure
        These elements are forged in a way ,to allow for a more three dimentional work,rather than a flat presentational delivery and performance of the visual theatre
        Signdance Colllective 2001- present. studies in-particular with Ornella D’Agostino and Goro Osojnik.has ,developed the practice further from the initial work in The signdance theatre trust (defunct
        please visit for further information on the art of signdance theatre

  2. Looks fascinating, compelling – hope they show a clip of Merce Cunningham to show that age is no barrier to ‘presence’ – mind you, seeing MTVideos of professional ‘street’ dances, it is hard to see how an equable attitude to age can be found – I guess 75 could learn to body pop, but it won’t never look like to ‘yoof’ TomRichardson

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