TDPT Special Issue, Touch in Training, 14.2, Now Published

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Volume 14, Issue 2 (2023)


Ha Young Hwang, Tara McAllister-Viel, Liz Mills & Sara Reed

Consent-based actor training as the only way forward
Andrea L. Moor

Touch and consent: towards an ethics of care in intimate performance
Marié-Heleen Coetzee & Kaitlin Groves

Maintaining the consent-bubble: an intimacy coordinator’s perspective on touch in performance training
Èmil Haarhoff & Kate Lush

The Unclean, ‘touching and training’ in puppetry from Japanese otome bunraku
Caroline Astell-Burt

Exploring Rudolf Laban’s flow effort: new parameters of touch
Juliet Chambers-Coe

Theatre in museums: ‘touch it without a touch’
Lu Wang

Touch as a feedback loop: exercising the leap from inertia to activation
Kristina Johnstone

Postcard — Oration
Our contact improvisation partners during lockdown for dancers in training
Malaika Sarco-Thomas

Archiving the healing touch
Nora Amin

Touch in tableau: a powerful moment to break the wall
Lu Wang

Tactile renegotiations in actor training: what the pandemic taught us about touch
Christina Kapadocha

Discussion — Essay
What a touchy subject! Discussions, reflections and thoughts about touch on the UEL BA (Hons) Dance: Urban Practice course
Carla Trim-Vamben & Jo Read

Voice (as and in) touch
Electa Behrens

The Little Acorns – it was a touch and go experience
Saranya Devan

A repertoire of touch in participatory choreography
Elvira Crois

In touch and between: a tactile toolkit for creative practitioners to navigate touch within their creative practice
Dina Robinson

Affective topologies and virtual tactile experiences in theatre training
Adriana La Selva

Queer performance in times of the pandemic: movement, identity, and hope in heart2heart and The Ladder Project
Gayatri Aich

“Touch and Training” as a special issue for Theatre, Dance and Performance Training takes up the call to (re)consider performer training for a changing performance culture as a result of recent global happenings, specifically #MeToo, #blacklivesmatter and the Covid-19 pandemic. Out of these three quite defined moments in history, there has emerged an intertwined and complex understanding of touch in performer training studios and rehearsals. This leads creative artists to critically interrogate “traditional” understandings of touch as well as propose new, other ways of (re)negotiated touch during creative exchange. As an editorial team of four from different performer training institutions and freelance experiences in South Korea, South Africa and UK, we encouraged contributors to intentionally layer their impulses and responses, questions and practice as research and look across disciplines and cultural contexts. For this special issue, we have selected materials which can be read as singular contributions or read in relation to each other through our structured juxtapositions and groupings, and understood as a kind of meta-narrative on touch in training at this moment in time. Peer-reviewed articles, essais, postcards and an edited conversation, as well as embedded links to video clips, sit in conversation with each other.

Three articles were grouped around investigations of intimacy and consent: Andrea Moor’s article aligns with the focus on touch as an aspect of performance practice requiring negotiation and consent within the specifics of her Australian practice. Marie-Heleen Coetzee and Kaitlin Groves, based on their experiences within the South African contexts, argue for an ethics of care in intimate performance which folds in their understanding of feminist theories as foundational to their pedagogical framework. Emil Haarhoff and Kate Lush introduce a metaphorical concept of consent bubble in approaching the process of consenting to touch in performance.

Four articles with essais and postcards were juxtaposed exploring Covid and deprivation of touch and the reintroduction of touch in a post-Covid moment: Juliet Chambers-Coe examines touch and energy through the lens of Laban’s Flow Effort, with a reconsideration of new parameters of touch during the pandemic. Caroline Astell-Burt’s investigation of “touch” in Bunraku puppetry, beginning with the historic marginalization of female artists towards the development of otome Bunraku that enabled women to work on the type of puppet, unfolds the concept of “liveness” through the idea of the puppeteer “both touching the puppet and being touched by it”. Lu Wang’s postcard “Theatre in Museums”, grounded in her work in China, attends to the museums, where touching is not allowed, as the ideal place for exploring touch without touching, through tableau. Kristina Johnson’s article brings her perspective on touch and environment through her notion of “feedback loops” during online teaching. Malaika Sarco-Thomas’ postcard reflects the role of touch in working with dance students in Chester during the pandemic. Nora Amin’s essai and Lu Wang’s postcard delve into the notion of touch and empathy through understandings of their relation to spectatorship. Christina Kapadocha’s article examines how tactile possibilities in movement training could be explored during the pandemic and asks a fundamental question of what touch can be when we are bound to work with others remotely. Carla Trim-Vamben and Jo Read’s conversation explores the ways touch has shifted in their dance teaching in a post-lockdown setting in London. Electa Behrens’ article, the only article that specifically focuses on voice in training, investigates touch as sound and sound as touch.

Another grouping within this special issue focuses on touch beyond the binary of touch/no touch and inside/outside. Saranya Devan’s essai reflects on her experiences of teaching children Bharathanatyam in South Africa during the pandemic when touch was characterized as a “bother and irritation.” Elvira Crois’ essai calls for an understanding of touch as ‘a tool going beyond the differentiation between “contact” and “no contact,” offering a variety of touch as the basis for a larger repertoire. Dina Robinsons’ article, together with a video footage of her work, explores the experience of touch, its imprint and trace, as a somatic methodology of retained experience that focuses on an embodied understanding of touch that finally does not require actual touch. Adriana Parente La Selva’s article takes the canon of the Odin Theatre’s physical work into virtual reality as she explores the building of a virtual archive, asking if those who interact with it will experience something akin to the work in the actual Odin space. Gayatri Aich, based in South Asia, investigates the queer body and the intersection of race, gender and sexuality using the notion of “restricted” and “closeted” spaces.

— The Editors


Jonathan Pitches is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds and Head of School of Performance and Cultural Industries. He specialises in the study of performer training and has wider interests in intercultural performance, environmental performance and blended learning. He is founding co-editor of the TDPT and has published several books in this area: Vsevolod Meyerhold (2003), Science and the Stanislavsky Tradition of Acting (2006/9), Russians in Britain (2012) and, Stanislavsky in the World (with Dr Stefan Aquilina 2017). His most recent publications are: Great Stage Directors Vol 3: Komisarjevsky, Copeau Guthrie (sole editor, 2018) and the monograph, Performing Landscapes: Mountains (2020). His most recent publication is the co-edited Routledge Companion to Meyerhold (2022) (again with Dr Aquilina).

Libby Worth is Reader in Contemporary Performance Practices, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a movement practitioner with research interests in the Feldenkrais Method, physical theatres, site-based performance and in folk/traditional and amateur dance. Performances include co-devised duets; Step Feather Stitch (2012) and dance film Passing Between Folds (2017). She is co-editor of TDPT and published texts include Anna Halprin (2004, co-authored), Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist (2012, co-edited), Jasmin Vardimon’s Dance Theatre: Movement, Memory and Metaphor (2016). Chapter contributions include on clog and sword dancing for Time and Performer Training (2019, she co-edited) and ‘Improvisation in Dance and the Movement of Everyday Life’ for the Oxford Handbook of Dance Improvisation (2019).

Guest Editors

Ha Young Hwang is Professor of Theatre for Young Audiences at Korea National University of Arts where she teaches improvisation and theatre-making for young people. She returned to Seoul after completing her MA and PhD at University of Exeter and teaching/researching at National University of Singapore, through which she grew her interest in the interactive and intercultural dimensions of contemporary TYA and Applied Theatre. She is currently a board member of ITYARN (International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network) and a lead editor of Young Asian Shakespeares as part of A|S|I|A (Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive).

Tara McAllister-Viel is currently Head of Voice and Speech at East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, Southend campus. She has been a professional actor and voice director for the past 30 years working across Chicago, Seoul, Berlin and London. She earned her PhD from University of Exeter, England, U.K. and her MFA-Acting degree from the Asian/Experimental Theatre Program, University of Wisconsin, USA. Her single-authored monograph Training Actors’ Voices: Towards an Intercultural/Interdisciplinary Approach (Routledge, 2019) details her research areas with Korean p’ansori, voice and culture, and voice pedagogy in conservatoire training.

Liz Mills is a voice and theatre arts practitioner. A long academic career in the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town provided the context for extensive postgraduate research in voice; international publication and the development of her own techniques for working creatively with the voice. She is a recipient of the UCT Distinguished Teacher Award. She has shared her research at Central School of Speech and Drama, London, taught on the International Theater Program at Rochester University, USA and was awarded an Ampersand Fellowship in New York. She has directed works by Shakespeare, Susan-Lori Parks, Chekhov and Martin Crimp. She is currently Head of Live Performance at AFDA Cape Town, South Africa.

Training grounds editor

Sara Reed is an independent academic, researcher, writer, project manager and a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner. With a career that has spanned a wide range of dance, performance, arts and education contexts, she has published widely in the area of embodied-movement, dance, somatic practices and pedagogy. Her experience includes interdisciplinary teaching across art forms. Sara is an Associate Editor for TDPT Training Grounds and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices and Dance, Movement & Spiritualities. She is Co-chair for Independent Dance and a trustee for Wriggle Dance Theatre – for children and families.


Gayatri Aich is a dancer, and is interested in understanding the overlaps between the performing arts and the everyday. [email protected]

Nora Amin, Author, performer and choreographer. Working in the intersection between performance and healing. [email protected]

Caroline Astell-Burt is a professional puppeteer and independent researcher. Starting in puppetry as the first modern female Punch and Judy, she then developed puppetry as an activity for learning disabled people of all ages. She was Director of Studies of the London School of Puppetry, the first U.K. school of puppetry for the profession. She has made an academic study of puppetry via Masters degrees from Middlesex and Royal Holloway and holds a Doctorate from Loughborough. She writes and presents on puppetry and has a particular interest in Japanese otome bunraku (maidens doll theatre) and pēpāshiatā (paper theatre).

Electa Behrens (PhD) is program-responsible for the BA Acting at Norwegian Theatre Academy. Research areas include: intersectional performance and voice trainings, student agency in teaching, sonic dramaturgies, vocal identity, New Materialism and the dramaturgy of darkness. Behrens has published several articles and book chapters on these topics in journals such as Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Performance Research and Critical Stages. She has been teaching for over 10 years at a university level in the UK and Norway, and has taught workshops internationally. She has long experience also as a performer, having worked with companies/artists throughout Europe/USA including Odin Teatret, Richard Schechner, Marina Abramovic and the CPR, as well as making her own work.

Juliet Chambers-Coe is a GL-Certified Movement Analyst and is Lecturer in Movement at E15 Acting School at the University of Essex. She is Principal Editor for the Journal ofDance, Movement, and Spiritualties published by Intellect. Juliet is founder and creator of the Labanarium: Resource and Network Centre ( for the International Movement Community, a project which supports the sharing and development of movement and dance research and scholarship in the tradition of Rudolf Laban which aims to reach across institutional and geographic boundaries.

Marié-Heleen Coetzee is an associate professor at the School of Arts’ Drama department at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research centres on the use of drama and theatre-based methodologies in cross-disciplinary contexts, socially engaged performance and embodied pedagogies in performance praxis. She presents scholarly and creative work on varied platforms.

Elvira Crois is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Saranya Devan is a South African theatre and dance practitioner with special interest in Bharathanatyam and its pedagogy.

Kaitlin Groves is a performer and heads the theatre division of the Talent-Etc™, a prominent South African talent management company. Her research centres on developing embodied assertiveness in intimate performance contexts.

Kristina Johnstone recently completed a PhD in Creative Work at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her research focused on embodied practice as a means to disrupt representationalism in South African contemporary dance. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Cape Town School of Dance, and the Makerere University Department of Performing Arts and Film in Uganda. She is currently based at the University of Pretoria, School of the Arts: Drama where she teaches Movement and Physical Theatre.

Èmil Haarhoff is an actor, director, choreographer and intimacy coordinator (IC). He obtained his Ph.D. in Drama from the University of Pretoria and his M.Tech in Musical Theatre from the Tshwane University of Technology. He is certified with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators in the USA and has trained, and co-designed training, for IC’s throughout Europe, India, Brazil and Africa for Safe Sets and Netflix EMEA. He is currently completing his Laban Certification in Movement Analysis through LIMS New York. He specialises in actor discomforts, practical embodied strategies toward actor well-being and the development of protocols for minors and intimacy through play.

Christina Kapadocha (PhD) is a Lecturer and Director of Postgraduate Research Studies at East 15 Acting School, University of Essex. She is a multi-awarded London-based theatre and somatic practitioner-researcher, a Registered Somatic Movement Educator and founder of Somatic Acting Process®. Her practice research and publications concentrate on the modification and impact of somatically inspired practices into theatre-performing environments and beyond. She is the editor of the collection Somatic Voices in Performance Research and Beyond (Routledge, 2021). Christina has been working as an actress, director and movement director in Greece and the UK since 2007. Personal website:

Adriana La Selva is a theatre-maker, a performer, and a researcher. She is currently a fellow FWO researcher with the project Practicing Odin Teatret’s Archives at S:PAM (Studies in Performance and Media – Ghent University) – in association with IPEM (Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music – Ghent University), Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, Utrecht University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Aalborg University. She is member of the international theatre group The Bridge of Winds, led by Iben Nagel Rasmussen. Adriana co-founded Cross Pollination, an international network of performers and researchers, which focuses on dialogues in-between practices and tactics for embodied knowledge building.

Kate Lush is an award nominated actor and movement teacher, has a 1st Class Degree in Performing Arts from the University of Hertfordshire and an MA in Acting from Manchester Metropolitan University, having trained in Poland with Teatr Pieśń Kozła. She works as an intimacy coordinator for film and TV. She co-founded IPSA and was instrumental in the creation of the Protocols for Working with Intimate Content in Film, TV and Associated Media – South Africa. Most recently Kate, with the Safe Sets team, designed and facilitated an education program for Netflix EMEA region – training a cohort of Intimacy Coordinators in Europe, India, Brazil and Africa.

Andrea Moor is a NIDA acting graduate having worked extensively in theatre, film, television, and radio in Australia and overseas. As theatre director she has worked for Queensland Theatre Company (resident director and artistic associate), NIDA, WAAPA, QUT and …and moor theatre. Andrea has won many awards including London Monthly Best Actress, (Edinburgh Fringe, 1991), the Gold Matilda for direction of Venus in Fur and the Matilda for Best Female Actor for Switzerland. Andrea holds the award of Doctor of Creative Industries (QUT). Andrea continues to act on screen and on stage and is an Intimacy Coordinator (IOS UK).

Jo Read is a Senior Lecturer in dance at UEL and is also training as an Integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist.

Dina Robinson is a Contemporary Dance Practitioner working within the field independently and as a Visiting Lecturer at The University of Chester on the BA (Hons) Dance programme and The Hammond on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programme. She trained at The University of Chester and obtained her BA (Hons) and Master’s degree in Contemporary Dance. Her career thus far has taken her to create and perform at The Liverpool Empire Theatre and The Storyhouse Chester, whilst most recent research has been presented at People Dancing UK’s Perspectives on Practice (2022) and The University of Chester’s Learning and Teaching Conference (2022).

Malaika Sarco-Thomas is a Dance Artist & Scholar at the University of Chester, UK.

Carla Trim-Vamben is a Director of Education and Experience and a Senior Lecturer in dance at UEL.

Lu Wang is a postdoctoral researcher at East China Normal University. She was awarded a PhD degree in Drama Education from University of Cambridge. Her area of interest includes Drama in Education, Theatre in Education, Theatre for Young Audience and etc. She is also an active drama and theatre practitioner and the founder of Cambridge Creative Education Centre.