I posted an introduction about this project to Japanese “The Dance Times” which I and some dance critics are running on the web.


Although very few people in this project read Japanese, I would like to introduce it to Japanese dance people. I hope many people might be  interested in this project.

Here’s a translation of the post:

ArtsCross London 2013 – Leaving home: being elsewhere

From 1–11 August, I took part in “ArtsCross London 2013” which was held in London. For this project, where, as its title indicates, ‘arts cross’, academics from the UK, China and Taiwan observe the creative process where choreographers of contemporary dance from those three countries create dances for dancers from those same countries and complete a work. The purpose is to introduce the choreographies as performances on stage and for academics to deliver papers and to take part in discussion at a symposium.

The project’s predecessor was “Danscross Beijing 2009 – Dancing in a Shaking World”, co-hosted by the Beijing Dance Academy (BDA) in China and the UK’s ResCen Research Centre, Middlesex University. Four Western, mainly UK-based choreographers and four BDA choreographers created an approx. 10 minute work for a youth company consisting of BDA students and graduates, which was performed at a Beijing theatre. At the same time a symposium was held at the BDA where academics from mainly China and the UK presented papers. I had the privilege to be part of this project, as the sole Japanese participant, and, after observing the rehearsals in summer, made my way to Beijing again in the autumn for the performance and the symposium. You can find a detailed report of the project on the ResCen website, here:

A paper I wrote at a later date was also published, in English and in Chinese, in the Journal of Beijing Dance Academy, 2011 Special Edition.

The project developed, and in 2011 an event under the title “ArtsCross Taipei 2011 – Uncertain… waiting…” was held in Taipei in collaboration between the two institutions mentioned above as well as Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan and Queen Mary, University of London in the UK. Unfortunately I did not take part that year, but as before, details can be found on the ResCen website:

Last year, “ArtsCross Beijing 2012 – Light and Water” was held in November at the BDA, and I also took part in this edition. Details on this event can also be found on the ResCen website, at the address given below. Under the Visual Documentation tab progress can be followed, from the rehearsal process to the day of the performance. The blog moreover contains numerous posts on observations the participating academics made through the creative process.

This year “ArtsCross London 2013 – Leaving home: being elsewhere” was held with the location now moving to London. The three weeks of rehearsals from mid-July, and the performance on 10 August all took place in The Place, the Mecca of contemporary dance in London, whereas the symposium on 11 August was held at Queen Mary University of London. I took part as well, and while observing the creative process with academics from the UK, China and Taiwan who are now old friends, we conducted frequent discussions and presented papers at the symposium.

The blog reports in detail, with pictures, on the individual choreographers and dancers, about the rehearsals and the works, and contains a review of the performance day by a dance critic. Although the text is in English and Chinese only, even just looking at the pictures will allow one to learn about the process where dance artists with a variety of cultural backgrounds and who are away from home, collaborated with people of different languages and cultures. Each work has to include at least one dancer from each of the three countries, should not be any longer than 10 minutes, and be based on the theme of “Leaving home: being elsewhere”, but has no constraints on its contents. The allocated time was a mere three weeks from the selection of the dancers until the performance, and the nine choreographers were only given three hours a day to rehearse. Ten dancers from the participating countries (the UK, China and Taiwan) each took part to perform one or two works. Participating dancers from the Beijing Dance Academy consisted of master’s students and youth company members, and of undergraduates and master’s students from the Dance Course at Taipei National University of the Arts. The British dancers ranged from new talent, freshly graduated from university or ballet school, to young dancers already embarked on a professional dancing career.

What is interesting is that even though called British choreographers and dancers, only a tiny minority was born and raised in the UK. In the melting pot that is London the world of dance has become even more cosmopolitan, and as it is impossible to use simple classifications based on nationality or ethnicity, the only usable description is ‘London-based’. Three of the choreographers for instance are an Italian, a German and an American of Vietnamese descent, all working in London. In fact, the Chinese choreographers, dancers and academics were also extremely diverse, and can’t be captured under the singular characterisation of ‘China’ or ‘Beijing’. They also were born and raised in widely different cultures, for instance Tibet (in the west) and Qingdao (in the east). Taiwan’s national history is heavily influenced by China, the US and Japan. There were only two participants from other countries than the UK/China/Taiwan, namely an American academic and myself. As all involved had already participated in the project several times and knew each other, we were able to step away from national stereotypes, and engage in close discussions with an awareness of the individual, their culture and history. Whereas in this kind of international exchange at first one’s communication of information and understanding is generalised by people’s nationalities, the relationship of trust deepens with repetition and various aspects of culture and history that can’t be simplified come to the fore, and it becomes possible to have discussions based on mutual understanding. With English and Chinese being the working languages, the language barrier is of course high, but the creation of dance as well as research really are areas where the ‘arts cross’, and we found ourselves at one point starting to use the verb ‘artscrossing’ to express our experience.

I expect that a collection of papers will be published in any case, but in this post I have given a simple report on the overall project.

Naomi INATA, 1 August 2013

The Place and Queen Mary University of London, London.

Project introduction on Japanese web

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.