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Deconstructing Shirabyoshi – Female dancers of the Heian period as a Mirror of Today

Conference paper
Authors Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt
Palle Dahlstedt
Kumiko Nonaka
Published in Proceedings of Shifting Dialogues: The Politics of Site, Locality & Context in Asian Performance and Visual Arts, International Symposium, Academy of Fine Arts and Theatre Academy, Helsinki, May 18-19, 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Academy of Music and Drama
Language en
Subject categories Arts, Japanology, Gender Studies


Choreographer Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt creates a performance (premiere April 4th, Gothenburg) investigating class and gender of historic female street performers Shirabyoshi, who, trained in music, dance and poetry, performed dressed like male priests with sword, long hakama pants and a tall hat. How did they move? How did they manage their ambiguous position belonging both to the streets and the court? They could easily be replaced and thus lose social position, home and income. At the heart our performance are the Imayo (”modern”) songs of the Heian time. What was important in the arts of the Heian period and how can we relate to it? Ami is exploring the border between modern dance expression and the classical, ritual Japanese Buyo dance. Two musicians/composers contribute their perspectives to the performance: Kumiko Nonaka (Kyoto) constantly widens the range and outreach of the nohkan flute, bringing intimate knowledge of and new melodies for the Imayo Songs. Palle Dahlstedt (Gothenburg) combines studies in Noh music with advanced Western composition training and state-of-the art electronic music research. The objectives are to create an artistic synthesis, to bring it to a new audience and to show how these old artistic expressions can live – not only as a conserving museal craft, but as a powerful part of contemporary artistic expression.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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