Dance Archive Box Berlin Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship Nanako Nakajima


Nanako Nakajima is a dance scholar and dance dramaturge, and a certified traditional Japanese dance master, Kannae Fujima. She was a research fellow at the International Research Center “Interweaving Performance Cultures” at the Freie Universität Berlin and has been a lecturer at several universities in Japan. Her research focuses on aging bodies in dance, archiving movement, and dance dramaturgy.

As part of her seminar for the Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship, Nanako Nakajima will develop her own Berlin version of the project Dance Archive Box. Conceived by theatre-maker Ong Keng Sen, the project was initially exchanged and further developed in Japan and Singapore with artists of contemporary and traditional dance from the Asia-Pacific region.

In the field of Japanese contemporary dance, which has emancipated itself from the familial master-student relationship that long governed the Japanese system of passing on an art tradition, the project posed the following questions:

How is it possible to separate a dance from the communal histories of the dance maker and to produce a Dance Archive Box as a creative common ground for all people? What does it mean to share a dance without sharing the time with the dance makers themselves? How do we reconstruct whose histories for whom? What aspects of dance in the past should be passed on as an archive for the future?

In the previous project, seven contemporary dance makers from Japan archived their works through their respective methods, each creating an archive box and then handing it over to another artist from a different background for re-performance.

This time, Dance Studies students from the Freie Universität Berlin receive these archive boxes from Japan and investigate how they can be used for recreation. In the archive boxes, the students will find traces and documents of unknown dance movements: notes and drawings, pieces from costumes, and sound recordings, or just one short letter. Dance Archive Box Berlin ‒ a practical investigation into the archiving and reconstruction of movement ‒ is created through dramaturgical and performative explorations of the boxed material.

Some of the boxes are introduced as examples in Nanako Nakajima’s non-academic opening lecture, as well as in a talk with Ong Keng Sen, where she associates motifs from her research on aging bodies in dance with the Dance Archive Box project.

Dance Archive Box was conceived and directed by Ong Keng Sen for the Saison Foundation, Tokyo, 2013–15.

In cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).

Tuesday, 22 Oct 2019

7 pm



With Nanako Nakajima, Gabriele Brandstetter, Ong Keng Sen, Nele Hertling

In English

Free admission