TDPT Issue 13.3 – Martial Arts Revisited, Now Published

Martial Arts Revisited

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2022
Special issue ‘Martial Arts Revisited’
Guest editors: Prof. Paul Allain and Prof. Grzegorz Ziółkowski
Training Grounds editor: Thomas Wilson

To the Ukrainian fighters bravely opposing Russian aggression

Julia Lewandowska (Poland) and Mohammad Reza Aliakbari (Iran) during the ATIS 2015 in Brzezinka. Photo: Maciej Zakrzewski.

Since the 1960s, various non-Western forms of martial arts and their adjunct activities related to healing and meditation have been increasingly adopted in Western performer training. Their diverse influences on actor preparation and manifestations in this context have already been widely discussed (for a summary, see ‘A Bibliography’ and ‘Voices Advocating Martial Arts in Actor Training’), including in the pages of this journal (see TDPT articles devoted wholly or in part to aikido 2.1, 2011; boxing and capoeira 3.2, 2012; and tai chi 4.1, 2013). Nevertheless, we decided to reinvigorate discussions about martial arts’ applicability and usefulness in training contexts as well as related ethical issues.

As a consequence, this special issue explores specific martial arts forms and their suitability for different performance contexts, the situations from which they have arisen and in which they exist and any implications of this in a highly interconnected world. The issue includes contributions which confront not only those practices most commonly associated with martial arts and most frequently employed in performer training contexts, such as Japanese aikido and Chinese taijiquan (widely known as tai chi), but also lesser-known styles and schools as well as other less obvious martial arts approaches, attitudes, ideas and techniques.

Continue reading

Stylistic Resonances: using martial arts to develop understanding and curiosity within a Higher Education dance curriculum

My journey to writing this post was far from straightforwards. I became a martial arts instructor in 1998, almost fifteen years before I became a dance lecturer in 2012 Naturally I found that much of my dance teaching approach was infused by my martial arts background. With the release of the TDPT special edition in September 2022 focusing on the influence of martial arts with theatre, dance and performance training I felt that it would be useful to share with my experiences with others. As an academic I wanted to delve into the fundamental underpinnings of movement practices to highlight the strong similarities and cross-influences these two movement forms have had on each other. This article may still come! As a practitioner on the other hand I wanted to share how this philosophy can be actualised in real world, studio-based work. It is a dilemma I often face with my students: action without understanding has as little value as understanding without application.

This blog gave me the opportunity to try and share my work in a tangible way, to highlight the practice but also to address where it came from. I have chosen to focus on an issue to which hopefully others can relate, and to show how my approach through martial arts helped address this issue. Of course everyone has their own unique movement history but hopefully this approach can be generalised to wherever you find yourself in your movement journey.

The issue I have chosen to consider is technical (technique) training. The role of this kind of training within Higher Education dance degrees is still an area of some debate. There is clearly a need to develop the students’ technical abilities so as to equip them with the skills they need to function within the industry. However universities (as opposed to conservatoires) have traditionally had wider goals than technical training, aiming to develop the ability to question, explore, discover and understand rather than simply acquire knowledge and skills.

Continue reading

Martial Arts Revisited: Bibliography

A bibliography of selected English-language sources on intersections between acting, actor training and martial arts.

Compiled by Grzegorz Ziółkowski.

All online sources were active as of 31 March 2022.

Błaszczak, P. 2021. “Aikido in Actor Training: A Personal Perspective.” In The Paper Bridge: Contemporary Theatre and Film Interconnections Between Japan and The West, edited by W. Otto and G. Ziółkowski, 87–95. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.

Blau, H. 1973. “Shadow Boxing: Reflections on the T’Ai Chi Chuan.” In Break Out!: In Search of New Theatrical Environments, edited by J. Schevill, 360–362. Chicago: Swallow Press.

Conaway, L. 1980. “Image, Idea and Expression: T’ai Chi and Actor Training.” In Movement for the Actor, edited by L. Rubin, 51–69. New York: Drama Book Specialists.

De Miranda, M. B. 2010. Playful Training: Towards Capoeira in the Physical Training of Actors, Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing.

De Miranda, M. B. 2012. “Jogo de Capoeira: When Actors Play a ‘Physical Dialogue’.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 3 (2): 178–191.

De Roza, E., and B. Miller. 2018. “The Lion and the Breath: Combining Kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework Techniques Towards a New Cross-Cultural Methodology for Actor Training.” Journal of Embodied Research, 1 (1). Video article: https://jer.openlibhums.org/articles/10.16995/jer.6/.

Delza, S. 1972. “T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Integrated Exercise.” The Drama Review: TDR, 16 (1): 28–33.

Dillon. R. W. Jr. 1994. “Beyond Acting in Fights: Stage Combat as a New Martial Art.” The Fight Master: Journal of the Society of American Fight Directors, 17 (1): 17–19.

Dillon, R. W. Jr. 1999 [2000]. “Accounts of Martial Arts in Actor Training: An Enthusiast’s Critique.” Journal of Theatrical Combatives, Dec. https://ejmas.com/jtc/jtcframe.htm. Accessed 31 March 2022. A shorter version of the text with the same title was published in 2000: The Fight Master: Journal of the Society of American Fight Directors, 23 (2): 19–23.

Edinborough, C. 2011. “Developing Decision-Making Skills for Performance Through the Practice of Mindfulness in Somatic Training.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 2 (1): 18–33.

Kapsali, M. 2013. “Rethinking Actor Training: Training Body, Mind and… Ideological Awareness.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 4 (1): 73–86.

Karczag, E. with G. Geddes. 1999. A Preparation for the Walk in Tai-Chi. Exeter: Arts Documentation Unit. Video material.

Latiff, Z. A. 2012. “Revisiting Pencak Silat: The Malay Martial Arts in Theatre Practice and Actor Training.” Asian Theatre Journal, 29 (2): 379–401.

Lindner, D. 1975. “Martial Arts and Dance.” Dance Life, 1 (Fall): 31–49. 

Mroz, D. 2008. “Technique in Exile: The Changing Perception of Taijichuan, From Ming Dynasty Military Exercise to Twentieth-Century Actor Training Protocol.” Studies in Theatre and Performance, 28 (2): 127–145.

Mroz, D. 2009. “From Movement to Action: Martial Arts in the Practice of Devised Physical Theatre.” Studies in Theatre and Performance, 29 (2): 161–172.

Mroz, D. 2011. The Dancing Word: An Embodied Approach to the Preparation of Performers and the Composition of Performances, Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Nichols, R. A. 1980. “Empty-Handed Combat in Actor Training Program.” In Movement for the Actor, edited by L. Rubin, 87–98. New York: Drama Book Specialists.

Nichols, R. A. 1991. “A ‘Way’ for Actors: Asian Martial Arts.” Theatre Topics, 1 (1): 43–59. Reprinted in: Zarrilli, P. B. (editor), 19–30.

Nichols, R. A. 1993. “Out of Silence… Action: Kendo and Iai-do.” In Zarrilli, P. B. (editor), 104–113.

O’Shea, J. 2019. Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training. Oxford, New York: Oxford UP.

rayambrosi. 2019. “The Role of History in Motivating Meihuaquan Martial Arts As a Somatic Method for Performers.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Blog. 1 August. http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/tag/martial-arts-and-theatre/.

Richmond, P. G., B. Lengfelder 1995. “The Alexander Technique, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and Stage Combat: The Integration of Use, Somatics, and Skills in the Teaching of Stage Movement.” Theatre Topics, 5 (2): 167–179.

Ruffini, F. 1995. “Mime, the Actor, Action: The Way of Boxing.” Translated by D. Salgarolo. Mime Journal (special issue titled Incorporated Knowledge), Claremont, CA: Pomona College, Theatre Department, 54–69.

Ruffini, F. 2014 [1994]. Theatre and Boxing: The Actor Who Flies. Translated by P. Warrington, Holstebro, Malta, Wrocław, London, New York: Icarus Publishing Enterprise, Routledge. Italian edition, 1994: Teatro e boxe. L’‘atleta del cuore’ nella scena del novecento [Theatre and boxing: The ‘athlete of the heart’ on the 20th century stage]. Bologna: Società editrice il Mulino.

Scott, A. C. 1993. “‘Underneath the Stew Pot, There’s the Flame…’: T’ai Chi Ch’uan and the Asian/Experimental Theatre Program.” In Zarrilli, P. B. (editor), 48–59.

Smith, H. 1997. Breath and the Actor. Exeter: Arts Documentation Unit. Video material.

Turner, C. 1993. “Aikido: A Way of Coordinating Mind and Body”. In Zarrilli, P. B. (editor), 90–103.

Turner, C. 2000. “The Intersection Between Combative and Theatrical Arts: A View.” Journal of Theatre Combatives, Feb. https://ejmas.com/jtc/jtcframe.htm.

Turse, P. 2003. “Martial Arts and Acting Arts.” Journal of Theatre Combatives, May. https://ejmas.com/jtc/jtcframe.htm.

Wedderburn, E. 2016. “Violence in Martial Arts Actor Training: A Dialectical View.” Performance Research, 21 (3), 84–91.

Weiler, Ch. 2019. “Grasping the Bird’s Tail: Inspirations and Starting Points.” In Intercultural Acting and Performer Training, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, T. Sasitharan, and A. Kapur, 167–178. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.

Zarrilli, P. B. (editor). 1993. Asian Martial Arts in Actor Training, with a foreword by R. Benedetti, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for South Asian Studies.

Zarrilli, P. B. 2002 [1995, 1993]. “‘On the Edge of a Breath, Looking’: Cultivating the Actor’s Bodymind Through Asian Martial/Meditation Arts.” In Acting (Re)Considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, 181–199, 355–358. London, New York: Routledge. First edition 1995. First published as “‘on the edge of a breath, looking…’ Disciplining the Actor’s Bodymind Through the Martial Arts in the Asian Experimental Theatre Program.” In Zarrilli, P. B. (editor), 1993, 62–89.

Zarrilli, P. B. 2009. Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski, with DVD-ROM by P. Hulton, Abingdon, New York: Routledge.

Zarrilli, P. B. 2015. “‘Inner Movement’ Between Practices of Mediation, Martial Arts, and Acting: A Focused Examination of Affect, Feeling, Sensing, and Sensory Attunement.” In Ritual, Performance and the Senses, edited by M. Bull and J. P. Mitchell, 121–136. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Ziółkowski, G. 1997. “The Role of Martial Arts in the Actor’s Training.” In Modern Theatre in Different Cultures, edited by E. Udalska, 219–224. Warszawa: Energeia.

The compiler wishes to thank Laura Wayth for her help in accessing some materials.

Voices Advocating Martial Arts in Actor Training

Compiled by Grzegorz Ziółkowski

Sophia Delza (1972): “The simultaneous use of mind and body is where the value [of Wu style of taijiquan] lies for the actor. The exercise frees the actor to become what [s]he needs or chooses to be through the mastery of the physical body so that it can function with correct or easy energy, simultaneously making the mind concentrate. The use of the body and mind then helps to put one into a state of calmness. The actor feels ‘whole’ and totally confident, not distracted by random thoughts and victimized by irrelevant emotions. It is this ‘state of well being’ that acts as a tranquil base of creativity”. (p. 29)
Delza, S. 1972. “T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Integrated Exercise.” The Drama Review: TDR, 16 (1): 28–33.
Linda Conaway (1980): “T’ai Chi [taiji] encourages the actor to discover the physiological center of his [sic] person because all activity grows out of the center (tant ien) [dantian – energy centre two inches below the navel and centre of gravity of the human body]. In applying the teaching and movements of T’ai Chi the actor not only intellectually understands the center but utilizes it in motion”. (p. 55)
Conaway, L. 1980. “Image, Idea and Expression: T’ai Chi and Actor Training.” In Movement for the Actor, edited by L. Rubin, 51–69. New York: Drama Book Specialists.
Richard Nichols (1991): “Martial arts training can play a formative role in the establishment of new physical horizons for the actor. The physical forms required, the intense physical commitment, and the intense mental focus can lead the student away from restrictive habitual movement/behavior patterns towards creation of a more positive personal view of one’s mental and physical capabilities – present and future. There is no reason to believe that a more positive outlook should not carry over into the actor’s work as well”. (pp. 51–52)
Nichols, R. A. 1991. “A ‘Way’ for Actors: Asian Martial Arts.” Theatre Topics, 1 (1): 43–59.
Adolphe C. Scott (1993):T’ai chi ch’uan [taijiquan] … has a great deal to offer in helping to develop the mental and physical counterpoise that is the mark of a good stage presence. Most student actors tend to overdo their movements and gestures in the belief they are being natural. In their concern for realistic characterization, however, they rely far too heavily on facial expression and fragmented bits of business and, in the process, sacrifice the rhythmic unity that is the result of a perfect coordination of internal and external behavior. Pauses and silences make them nervous; they are uneasy onstage when confronted by the necessity of standing still. At first it is difficult for them to realize that elimination is a positive force in acting, which is a skill acquired not so much by learning what to do as what not to do. These are the problems that the practice of t’ai chi ch’uan helps to eliminate in the serious student of acting”. (p. 55)
Scott, A. C. 1993. “‘Underneath the Stew Pot, There’s the Flame…’: T’ai Chi Ch’uan and the Asian/Experimental Theatre Program.” In Asian Martial Arts in Actor Training, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, 48–59. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for South Asian Studies.
Phillip B. Zarrilli (1993): “Practice of disciplines such as t’ai chi ch’uan [taijiquan] and kalaripayattu allow students to discover the breath-in-the-body and, through acting exercises, to apply this qualitative body-awareness to performance. Working toward mastery of embodied forms, when combined with the ability to fix and focus both the gaze and the mind, frees the practitioner from ‘consciousness about,’ allowing the person instead to enter into a state of ‘concentratedness’ focused on the performer’s relationship to his or her breath, its circulation through the body, and the deployment of this energy and focus through the body into the performance space. Training in the martial arts … empowers the actor with a means of making embodied acting choices, and not simply choices that remain empty ‘mind-full’ intentions”. (2002, p. 194)
Zarrilli, P. B. 2002 [1995, 1993]. “‘On the Edge of a Breath, Looking’: Cultivating the Actor’s Bodymind Through Asian Martial/Meditation Arts.” In Acting (Re)Considered: A Theoretical and Practical Guide, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, 181–199, 355–358. London, New York: Routledge. First edition 1995. First published as “‘on the edge of a breath, looking…’ Disciplining the Actor’s Bodymind Through the Martial Arts in the Asian Experimental Theatre Program.” In Asian Martial Arts in Actor Training, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, 62–89. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for South Asian Studies.
Phyllis G. Richmond and Bill Lengfelder (1995): “Studying somatics [such as taijiquan] develops kinesthetic sensitivity, an understanding of personal movement habits and preferences, a body-level sense of how movement is put together, and an awareness of the mind-body link”. (p. 168)
Richmond, P. G., Lengfelder B. 1995. “The Alexander Technique, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and Stage Combat: The Integration of Use, Somatics, and Skills in the Teaching of Stage Movement.” Theatre Topics, 5 (2): 167–179.
Daniel Mroz (2008): “Much of actor training is directly concerned with de-conditioning the stress-response. Actors’ lack of physical ease, vocal projection and ability to respond creatively to their fellow players are all caused by habituated over-reaction to actual or anticipated stressors. This in itself is enough to recommend traditional taijiquan to any actor-training programme”. (p. 139)
Mroz, D. 2008. “Technique in Exile: The Changing Perception of Taijichuan, From Ming Dynasty Military Exercise to Twentieth-Century Actor Training Protocol.” Studies in Theatre and Performance, 28 (2): 127–145.
Campbell Edinborough (2011): “A martial situation, much like the situations presented by live performance, necessitates the ability to respond clearly and instantly to constantly changing events. Indeed, the dangerous nature of any martial situation emphasises the importance of effective decision-making and the avoidance of mindless behaviour”. (p. 28)
Edinborough, C. 2011. “Developing Decision-Making Skills for Performance Through the Practice of Mindfulness in Somatic Training.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 2 (1): 18–33.
Maria Brigida de Miranda (2012): “Jogo [game, play] de capoeira, adopted for the purposes of training actors, has the potential to develop a performer’s physical connection with a partner without submitting the performer to actual physical contact. This is because the physical response to an attack in the jogo is to evade, rather than to block, absorb or redirect the blow. … In relation to training of actors, this ‘non-contact’ principle of capoeira is an advantage over a great number of other martial arts. It favours a gradual development of confidence for performers wishing to avoid injuries and/or who are not used to physical training with partners”. (p. 184, 189)
De Miranda, M. B. 2012. “Jogo de Capoeira: When Actors Play a ‘Physical Dialogue’.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 3 (2): 178–191.
Zainal Abdul Latiff (2012): Silat can help achieve a balance in which the physical, psychological, and moral all merge in the actor. Silat can form the basis for evolving a distinct training method for the performer since techniques instill discipline and dedication. Silat is useful for developing sensitivity towards the body, improving the body’s mechanics, and freeing up the body for a better stage presence. Among its benefits are full-body physical training with balance and body control, correct alignment, groundedness, flexibility, coordination, kinesthetic awareness, relaxation, and breath work. This training leads to total awareness and efficiency in movement as well as improved physical control. This develops self-confidence, and actors face and overcome fear”. (pp. 392–393)
Latiff, Z. A. 2012. “Revisiting Pencak Silat: The Malay Martial Arts in Theatre Practice and Actor Training.” Asian Theatre Journal, 29 (2): 379–401.
Christel Weiler (2019): “… practising Taijiquan [taijiquan] means to give oneself up to a never-ending process of learning, searching and transformation. Insight and intuition could only be reached by doing, by acting in the double sense of the word; they would neither be the result of rational knowledge nor correspond to skills or tricks”. (p. 176)
Weiler, Ch. 2019. “Grasping the Bird’s Tail: Inspirations and Starting Points.” In Intercultural Acting and Performer Training, edited by P. B. Zarrilli, T. Sasitharan, and A. Kapur, 167–178. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.

The compiler wishes to thank Laura Wayth for her help in accessing some source materials.

CfP: TDPT Special Issue: Martial Arts Re-Visited

Special issue: Martial Arts Re-Visited to be published in September 2022
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest editors:
Prof. Paul Allain, University of Kent, Canterbury (P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk)
and Prof. Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań (grzeg@amu.edu.pl).
Training Grounds Editor: Thomas Wilson, Rose Bruford College, London (Thomas.Wilson@bruford.ac.uk).

Martial Arts Re-Visited (Issue 13.3)

This special issue wishes to reinvigorate discussion about the applicability and usefulness of martial arts in actor, dancer and performer training. It opens the door particularly wide to contributions which intend to critically re-evaluate and re-examine martial arts’ role and place in performing arts training approaches and schemes.

Following in the footsteps of proponents of the newly established scholarly discipline of martial arts studies, such as Paul Bowman, Benjamin Judkins and Sixt Wetzler, we see the widely used and discursively constructed notion of “martial arts” as inclusive rather than exclusive, embracing traditional martial arts, competitive combat sports, military and civilian self-defence systems, as well as many activities straddling the boundaries between these. Moreover, for us the term “martial arts” denotes not only those practices and techniques which when skilfully executed may prove effective in physical struggle/contests, but also a vast pool of adjunct activities related to health, wellbeing, meditation and performance broadly construed that have their roots in or are connected with combat methods. Borrowing from Wetzler, we advocate that “martial arts” activate several dimensions which often interrelate and intersect, including: (a) physical and psychological preparation for confrontation with violence, usually carried out according to systematic and reproducible protocols and schemes, (b) combat competition adhering to set rules and frameworks, performed for fun or to determine a prize winner, (c) the display of martial skills and techniques in front of others, (e) pursuit of transcendent goals, consisting of cherishing specific philosophies and worldviews as well as character formation, (f) therapies and illness prevention. Furthermore, we note that martial arts cannot be reduced to their Asian or – more narrowly – East Asian incarnations since the phenomenon pertains to every corner of the world and as such strongly questions the dominant East-West axis, just as it unsettles the South-North axis too, with highly influential forms such as capoeira practised worldwide.

We are therefore open to proposals which confront not only the practices most commonly associated with martial arts and most frequently employed in performer training contexts, such as Japanese aikido and Chinese taijiquan, but also lesser known styles and schools as well as other non-obvious manifestations of martial arts’ approaches, attitudes, ideas and techniques.

In the turbulent 1960s, with a hunger for alternative models of organizing socio-political realities and related fascination with Eastern philosophies and practices of bodymind cultivation, elements of various (mainly East Asian) martial arts started to populate various Western actor, dancer and performer training programmes and regimes carried out both in academia and professional studios. Over time, as Robert Dillon observed in 1999, “the notion of ‘martial arts for actors’ has gone from being alternative in every sense of the word to being mainstream” and presently martial arts are a well-established component of many theatre, dance, circus or performance training routines, often part of a larger programme of psychophysical activities and approaches. Different artists, practitioners and scholars (sometimes in one body, as in the case of theatre scholar and practitioner Phillip B. Zarrilli) have listed the numerous physical and/or psychological benefits of employing martial arts in the formation of performance artists. The most often cited examples include: (a) heightening psychophysical awareness, sharpening perception and a sense of being here and now (presence), (b) cultivation of bodily and mental flexibility, (c) integration of body and mind, (d) development of focus, rootedness, balance and a sense of timing, (e) elaboration of respect for discipline, (f) improvement in terms of stamina and movement capacities, etc. This long list of advantages, however, does not dispel doubts which arise when considering the presence of martial arts in performer training and should not make us overlook related questions. These dilemmas comprise, for example, risk of injury, the presence of violence (even in a nascent form) and the subjugation of critical thought in confrontation with (often mythologized) practices and attitudes enshrined in (often esoteric) traditions. In an age when hierarchies are being acutely questioned and overturned, in life as much as in the training studio or classroom, when inclusivity and equality determine our every move, how do the structured forms of martial arts and their related pedagogical or dissemination models speak to such concerns? Can they only reinforce authority, or can they overcome such binary models? How might martial arts help shape the performance revolution that is yet to come? And how do martial arts impact on wider notions and practices of gender and sexuality? Are they purely conformist, homogenizing, or can they offer possibilities for transgression and transformation? We are convinced that these problems and issues deserve attention and careful scrutiny.

We would also like to highlight the following questions to be – potentially – tackled by contributors to the special issue:
• Are martial arts in performer training gender, race, class, age, (dis)ability determined? If they are, how does this manifest itself and what are the implications of this?
• How do cultural, political and social contexts play out in martial arts as part of performer training? Amateur and youth involvement in martial arts is extensive; how does this feed into performer training?
• How do social distancing and isolation as consequences of the global pandemic affect martial arts’ presence in performer training curricula?
• Which style(s) or school(s) are better/worse suited for performer training? Are any not suited at all? If so, why?
• Are martial arts primarily used as a movement training substitute? Are other dimensions of martial arts, such as meditation, work with energy, ethical dimension, etc., included in performer training regimes as well? How might work on martial arts support vocal practices and training?

Other important problems which we think could be addressed in this issue include:
• Strategies, consequences and risks of adaptation of martial arts or their elements for performance training needs;
• Interrelations between martial arts and other training systems within one curriculum (the problem of syncretism);
• Martial arts in training for a specific performance type in terms of aesthetics and/or philosophy;
• Martial arts’ performance pedagogy and its organizational milieus: drama school, university, studio theatre, workshops, etc.
• Usefulness of the martial arts’ pedagogic strategy of dialectics of form and improvisation in performing arts training contexts; issues around imitation, form and discipline in martial arts – how do these aspects prepare performers for rehearsal and creative processes, if they indeed do? 

We welcome submissions from authors both inside and outside academic institutions, from professional practitioners and those who are currently undergoing training or who have experiences to tell from their training histories. To signal your intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Paul Allain and Grzegorz Ziółkowski at: P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk and grzeg@amu.edu.pl. Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson (Thomas.Wilson@bruford.ac.uk), copied to Paul and Grzegorz.

Our deadline for these abstracts is 16th June 2021.

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:

  • Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-7,000 words)
  • “Sources” provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training. We are particularly keen to receive material that documents the histories and contemporary practices associated with the issue’s theme.
  • Training Grounds” hosts shorter pieces, which are not peer reviewed, including essais, postcards, visual essays, speaking image (short text responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.) and book or event reviews. We welcome a wide range of different proposals for contributions including edited interviews and previously unpublished archive or source material. We also welcome suggestions for recent books on the theme to be reviewed; or for foundational texts to be re-reviewed.

Innovative cross-over print/digital formats are possible, including the submission of audiovisual training materials, which can be housed on the online interactive Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal blog: http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/.

About Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Issue Schedule

  • 16th June 2021: 250 word proposals to be submitted to Paul Allain and Grzegorz Ziółkowski at: P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk and grzeg@amu.edu.pl.
  • Early July 2021: Response from editors and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution.
  • Early July 2021 to end October 2021: Writing/preparation period and submission of first drafts.
  • End October-End of December 2021: Peer review period.
  • January 2022: Author revisions, post peer review.
  • September 2022: publication as Vol. 13, Issue 3.

We look forward to hearing from you.

BodyConstitution in Wrocław

In What a Body Can Do (Routledge 2015), I asked why there aren’t more functioning laboratories dedicated to exploring the intersection between martial arts and performer training. This interdisciplinary connection has been hugely productive in Europe throughout the twentieth century, not to mention the much longer-standing relationships between martial and performing arts found throughout Asia. But it is hard to think of even one institution in Europe or North America that aims explicitly to innovate theatre, dance and performance training practice by placing it in dialogue with martial arts and physical culture more generally. While many individual practitioners and scholars do excellent work in this area, institutions tend to be oriented towards one domain or the other. And we still tend to see martial arts as cultural entities rather than fields of knowledge.

What would a laboratory of martial and performing arts look like? In order to create substantive interdisciplinary interactions, care would have to be taken to create the kind of ‘third space’ described by Pil Hansen and Bruce Barton in their article on ‘Research-Based Practice’ (TDR 53.4, 2009): a space in which specific flows of martial and performing arts would collide without either one being subordinated to the other. BodyConstitution, a project developed by the Grotowski Institute in Poland and funded by major grants from EEA/Norway, is the closest I have seen to such a laboratory. The project is ‘programme of research in practice at the Grotowski Institute,’ which has involved numerous formats of exchange, including four annual seminars (2013-2016), each about a week long, drawing together a wide range of international performers, teachers, and participants. I was recently a guest at the final BodyConstitution seminar and want to use that experience as a starting point to highlight the value of the project as a whole. (For more details and reflections on the 2016 seminar, see Jen Parkin’s post below.)

Continue reading