Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) — Special Issue: Anti-Racist Training (to be published September 2025)

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest Editors

Broderick Chow ([email protected])

Samia La Virgne ([email protected])

Training Grounds Editor

Lauryn Pinard ([email protected])

Anti-Racist Training (Issue 16.3)

The drive towards becoming “anti-racist” institutions or practitioners has taken on renewed energy in recent years. In 2020, responding to alleged and substantiated claims of abuse, discrimination and oppression spanning decades, theatres and institutions of theatre and performance training seemingly acknowledged the systemic racism that underpins the field. Action plans were put in place, committees were formed, and policies were drafted and approved. The question, however, of whether theatre, dance, and performance training itself has moved towards becoming anti-racist, or even what anti-racist training is, remains unsettled.

In 1990, Paul Gilroy suggested that “there is a crisis of the political language, images and cultural symbols which [the anti-racist movement] needs in order to develop its self-consciousness and its political programme. This problem with the language of anti-racism is acutely expressed by the lack of clarity that surrounds the term ‘anti-racism’ itself” (1990: 72). This leads to anti-racist actions being seen as ineffectual or at worst, patronising and infantilising. In theatre and performance education and training—as in everyday life—the specificity of racial oppression often becomes an “add-on” to a wider conversation on equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging. If, as Ramon Grosfoguel states, racism is “ a global hierarchy of superiority and inferiority along the line of the human” (2016: 10), any training that claims to be “anti-racist” must reckon with what Sylvia Wynter (2003) defines as the “coloniality of being/truth/freedom/power”, that is, the ideological project of defining Western “Man” against indigenous, Black, Global Majority and subaltern peoples that emerged with the European empires’ colonization of the “New World.” Efforts to “decolonize” or “decentre” the field, as Royona Mitra (2019) and Swati Arora (2021), among others, have pointed out, often adopt an “additive” approach, which “does not aim at structural change but works within it” (Arora 2021: 13). As the 2020 open letter “White Colleague Listen!*” suggests, theatre and performance has traditionally privileged colonial knowledge systems and therefore, this produces both racist pedagogical and epistemological structures and racism in everyday interactions in rehearsal studios, classrooms, and corridors.

The aim of this special issue is to examine different perspectives on what an anti-racist  theatre, dance, and performance training might be. It seeks to:

  • Explore various ways anti-racist concepts and practices are embodied in contemporary theatre, dance, and performance training.
  • Build/construct understandings of developed and developing anti-racist performance praxis.
  • Provoke conversations that challenge and contest traditional Western hegemonic performance practice methodologies.
  • Debate what new forms of anti-racist practice might emerge and how they can be sustained.
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CfP: TDPT Special Issue — Training for Movement, Physical Activity and Health — to be published June 2025

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest Editors:
Dr Campbell Edinborough (Leeds), [email protected]
Dr Rebecca Stancliffe (Trinity Laban) [email protected]
Prof Andy Pringle (Derby) [email protected]
Training Grounds Editor: Zoe Glen (Kent) [email protected]

Physical inactivity is increasingly being linked to chronic health conditions and all-cause mortality. But despite a growing global interest in physical activity promotion, the varieties of movement and physical activity experienced by those who participate in performing arts training are rarely included or considered in policy documents and public health recommendations.[1] 

This special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training will explore how performer training can be understood to offer opportunities for physical activity, movement education and exercise. It will analyse, evaluate and critique the ways in which performer training provides individuals and communities with unique and diverse opportunities for movement, exercise and play – providing an account of the ways in which performing arts participation might be understood as a valuable, alternative context for promoting and facilitating movement, physical activity and health from childhood through to older age.

Through exploring examples from professional training, participatory arts practice and education, the special issue also seeks to explore the critical and methodological questions that performing arts practices raise in relation to wider concepts of physical activity, movement training and health. The volume will provide space for analysing the ways in which paradigms of embodiment from the performing arts can be understood to provide alternatives to those found in the fields of public health, sport and exercise – articulating how performer training challenges deficit models of various health conditions and produces a more complex, and less isolated, view of health and wellbeing.

Contributions are invited on (but not limited to) the following themes and/or topics:

  1. The historical intersections between performer training, movement education and health. The editors seek contributions from scholars looking at the intersections between histories of physical education, health, and performer training.  Contributions in this area could include: analyses of the historical use of performing arts in the context of physical education and health (e.g. Margaret Morris, Rudolf Laban and global folk dance traditions); performing arts training that draws on knowledge from physical education (e.g. Georges Hebert’s influence on Jacques Copeau, the relationship between gymnastics and dance, or the influence of martial arts on traditional East Asian and South Asian performance forms); and the use of somatic education in performer training (e.g. Yoga, BMC, Feldenkrais and Skinner Releasing Technique in post-modern dance, or  F. M. Alexander’s influence on acting).
  2. Mixed mode analyses of how performing arts are used in promoting and facilitating physical activity and health in community and participatory contexts. We are particularly interested in submissions that investigate the specific qualities and characteristics of performing arts activities when implemented as physical activity, physical education and health interventions. The focus here may include how the performing arts encourages embodied self-awareness, relationality, ownership, and autonomy across the life course through creativity, artistry, and self-expression. 
  3. Analyses of performing arts as a means of promoting inclusion in physical education and physical activity.  Key points of focus here could include: analysis of dance as a context for encouraging participation in movement education and physical activity amongst girls and young women; theatre and dance as non-competitive contexts for moment and play; and the performing arts as a context for older people to keep active and develop movement competencies.
  4. Critical analyses of how dance and creative movement is used/taught/experienced within physical education curricula in schools. Contributions here might consider the challenges and benefits of including dance and creative movement within physical education curricula. 
  5. Pedagogical analyses of classical dance and theatre forms as life-long processes of movement education and bodily entrainment. (Examples might include: ballet, Kathakali, Khon and Noh).  
  6. Autoethnographic accounts of performer training as processes of movement education and physical activity.  We are interested in hearing from performing arts practitioners who can reflect critically on their training through the lenses of health, embodied experience or movement education.

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 Campbell Edinborough ([email protected]), Rebecca Stancliffe ([email protected]) and Andy Pringle ([email protected]). Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Zoe Glen ([email protected]), copied to Campbell, Rebecca and Andy.

Our deadline for these abstracts is January 8th 2024

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:

  • “Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-6,500 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 (more speculative pieces up to 1500 words); postcards (up to 100 words); visual essays and scores; Speaking Images (short texts 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:

Issue Schedule

  • 8th January 2024: proposals to be submitted.
  • Early March 2024: Response from editors and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution
  • March to July 2024: writing/preparation period
  • July to early October 2024: peer review period
  • October 2023 – January 2025: author revisions post peer review
  • June 2025: publication as Issue 16.2

We look forward to hearing from you.

[1] None of the proposed strategic actions from the WHO’s GAPPA mention the potential and existing roles that arts and cultural activities play in promoting and facilitating physical activity.  Likewise, the UK’s 2017 All Parliamentary Report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, mentions physical activity only four times within ninety-nine pages (referencing participation in dance and music).

Don’t ask me how I feel: how ambiguous language is a learning barrier in actor training.

By Klara Hricik (She/they)

Klara is pursuing an MFA in Actor Training and Coaching at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

How do you feel right now?

What does that question elicit for you? Do you want to answer? If so, what might your response be? Would you consider physical sensations, your emotional state, or any present thoughts? Would you give a genuine, insightful response or a casual polite non-answer as a means to move on with the conversation?

Throughout my theatrical training, I have heard acting instructors use the word feel when leading exercises. I have heard it utilised as a check-in: “How did that make you feel?” and “Did that feel okay to you?”, and as a direction: “Connect to the feeling”, “You just have to feel it”, and “You’ll know it when you feel it”.

I have never been able to figure out what is meant by feel. The word has always been very overwhelming for me, which makes sense as there are almost twenty definitions across different parts of speech (Merriam Webster, 2023). I’m sure I’ve heard just about every application of feel throughout my acting training across various practices; however, it was rarely specified which one my instructor intended. I believe that I may have struggled more than some of my peers due to being a neurodivergent learner. Many people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Dyslexia struggle with interpreting indirect language (Chahubon et al., 2021). As someone with ADHD, I have found the ambiguous language used in actor training to be a barrier not only to my understanding of various acting practices, but also to my success as a student. In my insecurity, I could not navigate how I was being assessed, whether I was ‘succeeding,’ and if I would be marked well by my instructor.

As I reflect on my experiences, I aim to answer the following questions:

  • “How has ambiguous language impacted my acting training?”
  • “What are the different definitions of feel?”
  • “How is feel used in different actor training methodologies?”
  • “How can I sharpen my pedagogical vocabulary to promote clarity in my approach to actor training?”

How has ambiguous language impacted my acting training?

Throughout my acting training, I was often chastised for being too logical, asking too many questions, and being too ‘in my head’. The reality was that I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing or why. I didn’t get why I couldn’t ask why. Why were we moving through the space without speaking for hours? Why did it matter what water feature I saw myself as that day? Why was my homework to study a tortoise’s movements? Why were we throwing a ball in the air repeatedly for twenty minutes? Why was I doing this at 9 am and paying obscene amounts of money to do so? Why was this crucial to me becoming a better actor?

My requests for clarity and structure were often perceived as combative, uncooperative, and unprofessional, despite my genuine desire to do the work and learn from it. In acting and movement classes from secondary school to professional workshops, I would often hear comments such as “No questions”, “There is no right or wrong”, or “Don’t think about it or judge it, just feel it. We will discuss later”. I will highlight for you my thought process in moments like these:

Feel what? What is ‘it’? How can I not judge ‘it’ if I don’t know what ‘it’ is? How do I find ‘it’ without thinking about ‘it’? How am I supposed to notice my feelings without thinking about my feelings? Obviously, I am doing this exercise wrong, I don’t feel ‘it’. Well, I don’t think I feel it, but I’m not supposed to think! Okay, what am I going to say when we discuss? This exercise made me feel…. confused. Can I say that? I feel like… my head kind of hurts and I’m hungry. That’s an honest answer. No, I’m sure that’s not what they want to hear.

Okay, let’s take a look around the room… Everyone else looks so focused. I better put on an intense face, too, so they think I’ve got ‘it’. Everyone else seems to feel ‘it’ and know what ‘it’ is. How do they know? How do they get ‘it’ and I don’t? Was ‘it’ obvious and I’m just dumb? Am I a terrible actor?

As I was often unable to make sense of what I had experienced in my acting training, I had no way of gaining the intended knowledge. I was, instead, forced to resort to pretending to understand what occurred, for fear of embarrassment in discussions and, ultimately, being marked poorly by my tutor.

I now know that my inability to succeed in this setting was not due to my inability as an actor or lack of effort as a student. Philosopher and researcher Alva Noë says that learners must ‘… experience sensations sufficiently that [they] make a certain sort of sense to [them], i.e., [they] understand that the sensations [they] experience are constitutive in some way’ (Noë, 2004, p.3 in Zarrilli, 2012, p. 47). As the purpose of the work was unclear and my requests to make sense of it were often denied, I was not able to fully learn or experience these activities in a way that encouraged my growth as an actor.

This also had consequences for my experience as a student, as I didn’t know how I was being marked. In an educational setting, giving students open-ended guidance when they are being assessed can not only result in insecurity and stress for the student, but a lack of trust in the educator and effort towards the work. In Aligning Teaching for Constructive Learning, JohnBiggs, referring to the broader field of higher education, explains ‘The assessment is the curriculum, as far as the students are concerned. They will learn what they think they will be assessed on, not what is in the curriculum’ (2003, p2). While actor training is largely experiential in nature, the confines of educational settings require measurable marking criteria. Though ambiguous language may aid the creative freedom of an exercise for some students, that does not negate the fact that in an institutional setting, actors are being evaluated. It is important for actor trainers to be clear about what the intended learning outcomes are and create specific, measurable criteria that students can work towards for assessments (Biggs, 2003). Whilst there are evident barriers for neurodivergent students that have legal ramifications under the Equality Act (, 2010), ambiguous language and grading guidelines can negatively impact the education of all students, as we will explore through various definitions of feel and the ways they are often conflated.

What are the different definitions of feel?

When looking at the word itself, feel has many meanings across different parts of speech as a transitive verb, intransitive verb, and noun (Merriam Webster, 2023, n.p.). Here are all of Merriam Webster’s definitions of feel, which we will explore more deeply in the next section (2023, n.p.).

Feel – Transitive verb

  1. a: to handle or touch in order to examine, test, or explore some quality
    b: to perceive by a physical sensation coming from discrete end organs (as of the skin or muscles)
  2. a: to undergo passive experience
    b: to have one’s sensibilities markedly affected by
  3. to ascertain by cautious trial (usually used with out)
  4. a: to be aware of by instinct or interference
    b: believe, think
  5. (US slang): to understand (someone): to know how (someone) feels

Feel – Intransitive verb

  1. a: to receive or be able to receive a tactile sensation
    b: to search for something by using the sense of touch
  2. a: to be conscious of an inward impression, state of mind, or physical condition
    b: to have a marked sentiment or opinion
  3. seem
  4. to have sympathy or pity

Feel – Noun

  1. sensation, feeling
  2. the sense of touch
  3. a: the quality of a thing as imparted through or as if through touch
    b: typical or peculiar quality or atmosphere, an awareness of such a quality or atmosphere
  4. intuitive knowledge or ability.

Across these definitions, we see references to the physical, cognitive, and experiential applications of feel. Let’s explore these different definitions and moments when they may be applied in the context of actor training.

How is feel used in different actor training methodologies?”

I want to begin by isolating the definitions of feel that reference physical sensations (Merriam Webster, 2023, n.p.).

Transitive verb

  • to handle or touch in order to examine, test, or explore some quality
  • to perceive by a physical sensation coming from discrete end organs (as of the skin or muscles)

Intransitive verb

  • to receive or be able to receive a tactile sensation
  • to search for something by using the sense of touch


  • sensation, feeling
  • the sense of touch
  • a quality of a thing as imparted through or as if through touch

When asked how I feel, the first thing I do is consider physical sensations, which may be the intended application in various acting methods focused on actors’ physicality. Artaud believed that theatre is primarily physical(Hodge, 2010, p. 285) and many acting methodologies agree with this notion. Practices, such as Meyerhold, Suzuki, and Grotowski, do not focus on the cognitive processes of other acting techniques, but on the ‘materiality of the actor’s body and what can be done with it as a medium’ (Allain, n.d., n.p.). Beyond physical theatre, we see the prioritisation’ of the actor’s body in many popular acting practices. Physical experiences may be encouraged practically, with practitioners using objects, such as sticks in Meyerhold’s biomechanics (Hodge, 2010, p.33) or in Stanislavsky’s exercises in concentration, which rely on the senses to explore an object (Hodge, 2010, p. 9). Many practices also rely on the physical bodies in the space, such as in Stanislavsky’s interest in Yoga (Carnickie, 2008), and Grotowski’s corporal exercises and focus on ‘extreme physicality’ (Wolford in Hodge, 2021, p. 208).

Methodologies such as Chekhov and Linklater encourage students to imagine physical experiences rather than engage with real physical items, often relying on imagery. Affective memory, as created by Stanislavsky and further developed by Lee Strasberg, promotes that ‘the ability to recall senses stimulates the body rather than the mind, giving the actor greater visceral awareness and experience’ (Krasner in Hodge, p. 148). In every facet of my training thus far, I have encountered some form of physical work, often engaging with the five senses.

Most actor training methodologies also value some sort of awareness, which we also see exemplified through the word feel (Merriam Webster, 2023, n.p.).

Transitive verb

  • to be aware of by instinct or interference
  • believe, think
  • (US slang): to understand (someone): to know how (someone) feel

Intransitive verb

  • to be conscious of an inward impression, state of mind, or physical condition
  • to have a marked sentiment or opinion
  • seem
  • to have sympathy or pity


  • typical or peculiar quality of atmosphere, an awareness of such a quality or atmosphere
  • intuitive knowledge or ability 

In these definitions, I see the words ‘aware’, ‘awareness’, ‘conscious’ and ‘intuitive’ come up across various meanings. This directly relates to actor training as awareness is largely encouraged across acting practices, including Chekov’s ‘body-awareness into and through psychophysical composition’ (Zarilli, 2012, p.20), Suzuki training, which David Climenhaga says ‘is as much about awareness and placement as it is about exertion’ (in Hodge, 2021, p. 294) (which, if you’ve done any Suzuki, you will know that that is a very high bar to set), and in Meyerhold’s Biomechanics, where ‘… the actor needs to be extremely sensitive to what his body, his gestures his movements are connoting. He needs a kind of built in mirror’ (Leach in Hodge, 2021, p. 32).

Often, actor training is concerned with going beyond the physical and connecting different aspects of awareness, such as emotional or mental. Stanislavsky scholar Sharon Marie Carnicke says that ‘In the realm of “feelings” the System’s actor works on all levels- physical, emotional, and intellectual – at once’ (2008, p. 218). Kristen Linklater’s work explores the connection of the mental and physical as ‘whole-body-mind awareness’ (Linklater, 2006, n.p.). Clearly, awareness is a key component of many prominent actor training methodologies, which may pose a barrier for some actors.

There are many people that struggle with physical and/or emotional awareness, with a significant prevalence in neurodivergent individuals. It has been found that people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may have ‘difficulty with sensing internal states,’ including body awareness, in comparison to those without a diagnosis (Fiene and Brownlow, 2015, n.p.). Alexithymia is ‘characterised by difficulties in recognizing emotions from internal body sensations’ (Shah et al., 2016, n.p.). Although separate diagnoses, alexithymia is ‘highly prevalent’ in autistic individuals (Poquérusse et al, 2018). In their research drawing on their experience as an autistic actor and actor trainer, Zoë Glen claims that ‘the autistic actor’s own emotion memory may not be available to draw on. Asking us to remember a time we felt sad, excited or angry, […] is not an effective route to emotional activation for many of us’ (2023, n.p.). I would like to invite actor trainers to be awareof any barriers that may exist in their practices and consider what they will do when they have individuals who find this awareness inaccessible.

With all of these, often conflicting, definitions of feel across acting practices, how is an actor supposed to know what is being asked of them? Why, in a field that is so focused on specificity in acting choices, are we using such general vocabulary?

Well, for Stanislavsky, the ambiguity was somewhat intentional.

In his original Russian texts, Stanislavsky often uses the word ‘chuvstva, which refers simultaneously to  ‘feelings’ and the five ‘senses’’ (Carnicike, 2008, p. 157). He wanted to evoke that well-rounded psycho-physical actor we talked about previously. When Stanislavsky’s texts were translated by Elizabeth Hapgood, she translated the Russian words for feelings, experiences and sensations interchangeably (Carnicke, 2008, p. 132). We can see this multiplicity in the English definitions of feel as well. The utilisation of the different meanings and connections of feel that is prioritised in many acting practices may improve some acting performances; however, I believe that, especially early in training, it is crucial to use specific language clarifying what elements are being focused on in the work, be it physical sensations, different aspects of awareness, or an intended experience. And I do believe Stanislavsky would agree with this notion. In his later work, Stanislavsky added this specificity into his own practice, limiting the word ‘sensations’ to refer only to physical feelings (Carnicke, 2008, p. 218). I would encourage this clarity from actor trainers and suggest using an alternative to feel when referring to what they want actors to experience.

Aside from the definitions we have already categorised, feel can also be used to describe the way in which one engages with an experience. Feel in reference to experiences can be classified into two applications, being either active or passive (Merriam Webster, 2023, n.p.).

Feel as active experience:

Transitive verb

  • to ascertain by cautious trial (usually used with out)

Feel as passive experience:

Transitive verb           

  • to undergo passive experience

Intransitive verb

  • to receive or be able to receive a tactile sensation

I was confused both by the inherent opposition in these applications and by the notion that one could “passively” experience something. Upon reflection, I recalled how often I was asked to ‘receive’ or ‘undergo’ experiences without any sort of critical engagement or personal autonomy of the work. I believe that this request has caused the most contention throughout my acting training journey. I was resistant to experiences where I was expected to be impacted without any information on what we were doing and why. I was often encouraged to ‘let it happen’, ‘trust the process’ and ‘jump in’ rather than to proceed cautiously, to ask questions, or to seek clarity in moments when I would have benefited from further guidance. I would advocate for a shift away from this passivity in actor training in favour of a more engaging pedagogical framework.

In his later work, Stanislavsky began advancing Active Analysis as a means to give actors more autonomy over their work and perhaps to challenge directors who ‘threatened to treat actors like pawns’ (Carnicke, 2008, p. 202). This began to shift away from the passivity required in Stanislavsky’s earlier hierarchical pedagogy to more of a dialogic style (Alexander, 2019). I believe that this shift should be noted and embraced when considering the application of the earlier definitions of feel. I would like to suggest using what Alva Noë refers to as ‘perceptual experience’ (Noë, 2006) in place of the passivity and level of obedience that was often asked of me in my training. Perceptual experience encourages learners to be ‘intrinsically thoughtful’ and notes that it is through their ‘skillful activity’ that they will understand the material (Noë, 2006, p.2). Rather than passively watching or replicating the practitioner, actors are encouraged to actively engage in their learning experience, asking questions, forming opinions, and working to develop their skills rather than letting someone tell them what to do and how it should impact them. I propose that we use this mindset when considering all facets of feeling in order to remove any ambiguity from the work and support actors to make sense of the work and have the best opportunity to grow as artists.

How can I sharpen my pedagogical vocabulary to promote clarity in my approach to actor training?

So, what do we do?

Elaborate and get specific.

My freshman year of Acting during my undergraduate degree, we were encouraged to purchase Marina Caldarone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams’ Actions: An Actor’s Thesaurus (2004). When analysing a script, we were to refer to this text to differentiate and specify the intentions of our acting choices. 

Actor trainers: I invite you to do the same. If you are inclined to use the word feel, notice that. Consider the nuances behind what you are actually asking of your students. Assess what may be the most effective way to communicate the intended outcome. Maybe you could elaborate on your use of the word or find a new word altogether. Below is a table I created that proposes some alternatives to feel in different actor training scenarios.

Alternative vocabulary to feel
Feel pertaining to the physical

Isolate the use of the word ‘sensations’ exclusively for this application (a la Stanislavsky)
Notice any sensations occurring in your body. Explore the physical experience of doing this activity. Consider what temperatures, textures, muscular tension, etc. you or your character may be physically sensing.
Feel pertaining to mental thoughtsNotice any thoughts that arise from doing this exercise. What does this make you think of? Engage the character’s mentality as you respond to this moment.
Feel pertaining to emotionsNotice any emotional reactions that may come up for you or your character.What emotions might your character be experiencing? Consider the different emotional reactions your character might have in response to this moment.
Feel pertaining to ‘perceptual experience’ (Noë, 2006)Explore any impulses that arise from this activity. Receive these instructions and see what sensations, thoughts, or emotions you experience. If nothing arises, engage with the material in whatever way you are able to.
Feel pertaining to analysisConsider what is effective in this practice and what might be a barrier for you.Explore the limitations of this activity.Engage with this exercise through a critical lens.Notice any reservations you might have. Feel free to address them in whatever way you deem fit before engaging with the activity.

These are some examples that could potentially specify intention, but the possibilities are by no means limited to this table. It is also possible practitioners will have to communicate in different ways for different students. By using specific language and being flexible in their methods, actor trainers can enhance clarity and inclusion in their teaching. In my practices, I hope to deepen students’ understanding of acting by continuing to clarify ambiguous language and, in doing so, prevent alienation and insecurity amongst my actor-students.

Klara Hricik,
Septmeber 2023.


Alexander, R. (2019). Dialogic Teaching: A dialogic teaching framework. Available at:

Allain, P. (n.d.). ‘What is Physical Acting?’. Physical Actor Training: an online a-z. Drama Online Library. Available at:

Biggs, J. (2003). Aligning teaching for constructing learning. Higher Education Academy, 1(4), pp.1-4. London: Routledge.

Calderone, M. and Lloyd-Williams, M. (2004). Actions: The Actor’s Thesauraus. Nick Hern Books.

Carnicke, S. M. (2020). Stanislavsky in Focus: An Acting Master for the Twenty-First Century. 2nd edn. London: Routledge. pp. 132-218.

Chahboun, S., Kvello, Ø., and Page, A. G. (2021). Extending the Field of Extended Language: A Literature Review on Figurative Language Processing in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Frontiers in Communication, 6.

The Equality Act of 2010. [Online]. Available at:

Fiene, L. and Brownlow, C. (2015). ‘Investigating interoception and body awareness in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder’. Wiley Online Library. Available at:

Glen, Z. (2023). ‘Access for autistic student-actors: interrogating the role of empathy within actor-training methods’. Theater Dance and Performance Training. Volume 14 Issue 1. Available at:

Hodge, A. (2010). Actor Training.  2nd edition. London: Routledge, 2nd edition. pp. 9-296.

Linklater, K. (2006). Freeing the natural voice: Imagery and art in the practice of voice and language (2nd Revised Edition). London: Nick Hern Books.

Merriam-Webster (2023a) Feel definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Available at:

Noë, A. (2006). ‘Précis of Action in Perception’. Psyche: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness 12(1). Available at:

Poquérusse et al (2018). ‘Alexithymia and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A complex relationship’. Front Psychol. 9(1196). Available at:

Shah, P. et al (2016). ‘Alexithymia, not autism, is associated with impaired interoception’. Cortex. 81, pp. 215-220. Available at:

Zarrilli, P. (2012). Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach After Stanislavsky. London: Routledge. pp. 20-47

Appointment of TDPT Co-editors

Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge

The two editors of the international journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Dr Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London), announced their intention to step down from their roles from the end of next year (Autumn, 2024) at the annual TDPT associate editors meeting this April.

A recruitment appointment panel has been convened and it is seeking to appoint two new co-editors from all disciplines related to the field of performer training, for this very successful journal published by Routledge and in its 14th year. The journal is quarterly and Taylor & Francis will provide remuneration for the role to cover any journal-related expenses. TDPT has contributions from scholars and practitioners across the globe and has a very active blog site, hosting multi-media content.

As the journal has grown in stature and in size, the editorial team has expanded, and the editors will lead a group of associate editors and blog editors numbering over twenty individuals.

The successful candidates will bring strategic ambition and vision to the journal, taking TDPT into the next phase of its development with energy and imagination. The role will offer you unique insights into academic publication and provide you with opportunities to expand your own networks with scholars and practitioners. You will steer the journal’s direction, ensuring it keeps up to date and responsive to current ideas and movements in performance training. It gives you the opportunity to work closely with one of the world’s leading academic publishers.

You should be:

  • Invested in contemporary debates in training and performance and committed to the principles of ethical research.
  • Visionary and creative with clear ideas about how the journal can continue to develop and prosper and diversify its contributors and content.
  • Highly organised and efficient with excellent communication skills.
  • At your best when working in a tight-knit, collegiate team of editors and associate editors.
Continue reading

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.

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TDPT Issue 14.1 Now Published

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Volume 14, Issue 1 (2023)


Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches, Thomas Wilson & Aiden Condron

The listening actor: intersections between the musicality of Meisner Technique and ear training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics
Andrew Davidson

Beyond the stomp: the Nobbs Suzuki Praxis as an Australian variant of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training
Antje Diedrich & Frances Barbe

Speaking Image
Skills shared
Anja Meinhardt

There is no such thing as an accident
Thomas Wilson

Performing while documenting or how to enhance the narrative agency of a camera
Nathalie S. Fari

Access for autistic student-actors: interrogating the role of empathy within actor-training methods
Zoë Glen

Speaking Image
The interpersonal body: knowing another through the shared embodiment of ‘energetic contact’
Juliet Chambers-Coe

Events Review
Unrehearsed Futures – Season 2: a series of public conversations on possibility, plurality and planetarity in theatre pedagogy hosted by Drama School Mumbai
Phalguni Vittal Rao

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CfP: TDPT Special issue – Green Trainings – to be published in September 2024.

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors


Jonathan Pitches ([email protected])

Libby Worth ([email protected])

Training Grounds Editor: Maria Kapsali [email protected]

Green Trainings (Issue 15.3)

If not now, when?

We are living in a time of an unprecedented global environmental crisis. Scientists have developed a sophisticated understanding of the Earth’s climate system and we know with high confidence that climate change is happening today as a result of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Negative impacts from climate change, including extreme weather events, the acidification of the oceans, declining glaciers and sea ice, and rising sea temperatures are already being felt and will continue to increase into the future. Radical action to limit future global greenhouse gas emissions is essential if we are to restrict future changes in the climate system. A key target emerging from COP27 (November 2022) is the pressing need to effect the shift from pledging to implementation. In this time of climate emergency we must collectively accelerate, scale up, replicate success stories and bring about transformative action. Conscious of the ubiquitous, and iniquitous acts of greenwashing and virtue signaling, this call for transformative activism must at the same time be expressed honestly with open acknowledgment of the barriers to change, the impediments, and potential failures and the need for persistence – to try and then to try again.

In the last 20 years, there has been an increase in arts-based training for environmental awareness, and a rich history of practitioners working outside, drawing for instance from paratheatre, somatics and bodyweather. There has been a concomitant process in Fine Art – Suzi Gablik’s The Re-enchantment of Art (1991) is a key frame of reference and Natalie Loveless’s How to make Art at the End of the World (2019), has also been very influential more recently. Their focus on pedagogy, responsibility and ethics is instructive for thinking across disciplines. In parallel with this movement there has been a too-late acknowledgement of indigenous/first peoples’ training methods, and the capacity they have to spark new thinking about old training methods, and thus to decolonise the training studio – Te Rākau’s Theatre Marae for instance in Aotearoa/NewZealand (Pearse-Otene, TDPT 12.1) or Cricri Bellerose’s ecosomatic attentiveness through which she becomes an ‘apprentice to the land’ (TDPT 13.2).  

In the UK and the US, there have been logistical and industrial responses to the crisis, with a focus on finding ways of operating more sustainably and with less waste. The emergence of the Theatre Green Book, now complete at 3 Volumes, provides free guidance for theatre-makers on what everyone can and should be doing to change their practice, and is evidence of the UK theatre sector’s commitment to creating a common standard for sustainable theatre. Similarly, in the US, the Broadway Green Alliance has paved the way for an initiative dedicated to educating and inspiring producing theatres to implement environmentally friendlier practices, with their Green Captain programme providing advocacy and support for professional theatres and college theatre departments. In the UK, some institutions have adopted Green Captains, highlighting their commitment to future sustainable practices. These programmes are, however, almost exclusively focused on theatre production, buildings and operations. If we look to the training methods of performers employed in these contexts, there is scant (published) evidence of sustainable, or ‘green training’ practices.

Cognisant of the urgent need to address the often problematic issues around responsibility for engagement and action, our discipline is provoking ways to respond. For example, the 9th edition of the International Platform for Performer Training (Chiusi, Italy, January 2023), where this Call for Papers was first developed, included New Creative Ecologies: Non-anthropocentric Spaces, Geopoetics and Climate Change in Performer Training as one of its four key themes for exploration, while RiDE’s forthcoming Special Issue, Confronting the Global Climate Crisis: Responsibility, Agency, and Action, seeks to ‘confront the climate crisis with a revived interest in the diverse pedagogical, ethical, aesthetic, and sensory qualities’ of applied theatre research and practice.

In this Special Issue of TDPT we seek to discover green trainings’ roots, to document forms of green training which already exist, and to debate what new forms might emerge. As such, our questions for this special issue may be conceived in three interrelated parts – sources, contemporary practices and imagined futures:

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Nobbs Suzuki Praxis (NSP): Example Training Formats

By Dr Antje Diedrich and Dr Frances Barbe

The Nobbs-Suzuki Praxis (NSP) is an Australian variant of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training (SMAT).

This blogpost provides a brief introduction to NSP followed by:

  • Some video examples of selected NSP training formats that are indicative of the NSP approach; and
  • Some verbal exercise descriptions of NSP training formats.

The term ‘format’ is used somewhat interchangeably with ‘exercise’ here. The specific use of format tends to draw attention to the structure of an exercises or the set of parameters it entails. ‘Exercise’ is also used as it will be familiar to most in a training context.

Nobbs Suzuki Praxis: A brief introduction

Nobbs Suzuki Praxis was created by Australian practitioner John Nobbs in collaboration with Jacqui Carroll who are the founders of OzFrank Theatre, an Australian company based in Brisbane. John Nobbs and Jacqui Carroll encountered SMAT in Australia in 1991 when Nobbs was selected Banquo’s Ghost in The Chronicle of Macbeth directed by Tadashi Suzuki with Australian actors for Playbox. Theatre Company (now Malthouse Theatre) in Melbourne. Nobbs went on to train and perform with Suzuki including in Suzuki’s production of Dionysus in 1994 and 1995 touring to Athens, Vicenza (Italy) and Toronto. Nobbs and Carroll regularly visited Suzuki’s base in Toga and the Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre. Their company Frank Productions (later Ozfrank Theatre) joined them on some visits to perform in both Toga and Shizuoka international festivals.

Nobbs and Carroll’s background in dance gave them a particular lens through which to view SMAT. SMAT offered them the opportunity to reconfigure their kinaesthetic dance knowledge for the actor in the realm of theatre (Nobbs 2012, 52f; Carroll 1998, 6-8). Part of that was their dancer’s understanding of the importance of regular practice sustained over time. Nobbs and Carroll had a huge impact on the theatre landscape of 1990s Brisbane because a whole generation of theatre artists attended the bi-weekly training the set up in Brisbane in 1992 which they sustained over many years.

In the early 1990s, the training comprised largely of SMAT exercises but gradually over the years the Nobbs-Suzuki Praxis emerged and distinguished itself from SMAT. In its current form, NSP consists of some of Suzuki’s original exercises, (what he refers to as ‘disciplines’) as well as new exercises devised by Nobbs (often referred to by Nobbs as ‘formats’). SMAT and NSP both emphasise a heightened state of awareness and sensitivity in the actor both to the physical sensation of moving and speaking and to the imaginative, emotional responses that arise in the moment of moving, speaking and acting. NSP maintains the SMAT emphasis on the actor’s energy production, breath calibration and control of the centre of gravity as well as the importance of the feet for groundedness. Like SMAT, NSP formats typically integrate movement and voice and use fairly codified patterns of movement repeated in each training session with improvisatory elements built into some exercises.

John Nobbs and Jacqui Carroll evolved NSP from SMAT through a long-term process of practical interrogation, alongside sustained observation of and participation in SCOT’s training, rehearsals and performances. They adapted the training in response to Ozfrank’s practice context: the challenges performers faced in their initial introduction to the training and the unfolding, more subtle and nuanced challenges arising from long-term engagement with the training.

The NSP variations typically offer greater scope for open improvisation, albeit within the parameters of each format. There is both structure and freedom. Nobbs attributes the start of NSP to 1995 and the creation of a new exercise based on the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song ‘I Put a Spell on You’. NSP training formats were often created in response to specific pieces of music. They use everything from seminal classical works by Verdi and Handel to international pop hits and Australian surfing music. The training makes highly effective use of music by drawing on a piece of music’s structure, or the sound quality of the instruments, or the quality of the singer’s voice.

An example of the innovations NSP introduces into the training include the use of physical actions like ‘bouncing’ which is shown in video 1 below – ‘Peppermint Man’. The bouncing requires soft activation in the legs. It grounds the actor, but not in a rigid way, they are sensitizing the legs through bounding. Another example is the ‘shaking’ or trembling action illustrated in video 2 below – ‘Shakin all over’. The shaking action requires them to ground themselves while also allowing this intense trembling to take place. Again the activity heightens a sense of embodiment, as a result of these activities the actor is more aware of their whole body. The NSP formats sensitise and awaken the actor’s whole instrument. NSP is also distinctive in the way it integrates objects as tools in the training such as sticks, soft pieces of cloth and mirrors as well as the device of working with eyes closed which heightens the actor’s ability to feel what they are doing.

For an in-depth introduction to NSP see “Beyond the Stomp: The Nobbs Suzuki Praxis as an Australian variant of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training” by A Diedrich and F Barbe in the Routledge journal Theatre Dance and Performance Training (2023).

The NSP formats illustrated in video extracts below are

Video 1:  ‘Peppermint Man’ and ‘Crimson & Clover’

Video 2: ‘Shaking All Over’ and ‘Minder Blinder’

The formats described verbally below are:


‘Bang Bang’

‘Hangin’ Five’


The videos are taken from archival footage of the symposium, Beyond the Stomp: The Nobbs Suzuki Praxis (April 2019) hosted at Charles Sturt University and curated by Robert Lewis, Jeremy Neideck and Frances Barbe.

Please Note: Music is deliberately not included in the videos due to copyright and so the videos are in silence. Because the training uses music in a very specific way music titles are provided so viewers can research the music themselves. Despite the obvious drawbacks, we decided to share the videos without music, proposing the viewer watch the bodies in silence to consider:  What qualities from the music remain detectable in the body as they improvise?

Video 1:  ‘Peppermint Man’ and ‘Crimson & Clover’

Video 2: ‘Shaking All Over’ and ‘Minder Blinder’

FORMATS DESCRIBED VERBALLY: ‘Spell’; ‘Bang Bang’; ‘Hangin’ Five’; ‘Rose Marie’


To music ‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

The NSP exercise known as ‘Spell’ is named after the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song ‘I Put a Spell on You’. As mentioned in the above introduction, Nobbs attributes the start of NSP to his conception of this exercise, ‘Spell’ in 1995. Like many of the formats in NSP, ‘Spell’ can be considered as a variation of the slow motion walk in the original SMAT training, but with greater scope for open improvisation as the performers are encouraged to draw on or emulate the quality of the music as a source improvisation.

To prepare, performers stand in two lines on either side of the room with an imagined audience on the downstage or front side. The two lines will cross the space horizontally, so they should arrange themselves in the gaps so they can pass by without colliding.

As soon as the music starts, they begin to improvise, drawing on the quality of the instruments that start this song and the rhythm it offers. They can use all parts of the body, there are no limits of what body parts to use, and they can use different levels and speeds as well as stillness. They can go with or work in contrast to the music.

The performers must stay in their lane as they cross the space but they can move forwards and backwards within that lane. When they get to the other side of the room, they change direction and return to the other side of the space.

There is an instrumental break in the music during which they are often asked to ‘dance’. Since they have been moving up until now, this is a provocation to contemplate (through action) what the difference is between ‘dance’ and ‘movement’. 

Vocally they ‘riff’ on the lyrics of the song, improvising freely with their voice alongside their physical improvisation. They select single words or phrases or whole lines to copy and then explore in their own voice. They use repetition to let something develop and evolve. They play with different pitches use different resonators in their bodies.

Overall there is a crazy, chaos quality to the singer’s voice and the song. There are vocalisations like giggling , laughter and other utterances. Performers are encouraged to emulate those sounds, take them into their voice and body to play with them and see what evolves. This can help them to access something new, messy, chaotic, but still grounded within the parameters of the format.

NSP often contrasts the idea of ‘movement’ with ‘dance’ as it does here in the instrumental section. This also happens in ‘Shaking all over’ (see video 2).  It’s typically linked to a particular instrumental break in the music when performers are asked to ‘dance’. In some cases, they are asked to ‘dance the stick’ – so the body is still and they are asked to ‘dance the stick’. There is rarely any theoretical discussion as to what the objective difference between moving and dancing might be. The value is in the question posed to each individual to interrogate for themselves.

The training formats that follow here have varying degrees of limits to frame the freedom of open improvisation. In many ways, ‘Spell’ can be seen as one of the more open formats offering performers the challenge of an open improvisation with a very strong stimulus in the music and the vice of Screaming Jay Hawkins. The wild quality of the music can help some performers loosen the proverbial reins a little and find something new from themselves.

‘Bang Bang’

To the song Bang Bang (He Shot Me Down) in the version performed by Cher

This format is significant for the way it utilises song lyrics as text, providing an exploration of storytelling and connection to text within strict time/duration parameters as they speak the lyric in the same duration as the singer sings it.

The performers being standing in a row at the back of the space ready. They typically have one long or two short sticks in hand. On the introduction, they begin to improvise in the upper body and arms only. They should not move their legs or feet or start to walk until the singer starts to sing. They are exploring how to find freedom and new idea within highly limited parameters.

When the singers starts to sing the verse, they progress forward or backwards as they like. They can use levels, move fast or slow, go forwards or backwards, so long as they stay in their lane. The use of lanes is practical but also serves to cultivate freedom within structure. They work sculpturally with the sticks as an extension of the body. Musically, they use of the accents in the music to respond to with movement, or they are reinterpreting the quality of the music, the sounds of the instruments, or the quality of the singer’s voice in their movement.

They speak (not sing) the lyrics of the songs. They must say each line in the same duration it takes the singer to sing it. This encourages a play with speed and dynamics vocally. Within that parameter, they are free to play with pitch and resonance etc.  There is a strong sense of storytelling in this song which helps them to use the lyrics as text. They play the words, ideas and story through their improvisation.

Every time the singer says ‘bang bang’ they must tap the floor or their own body with the stick, and say the words as she sings them. They are in both free improvisation and able to respond to specific instructions.

There is a cue in the music where they are asked to wiggle and shake, the quality of the Tamborine is taken into their body, and allowed to affect their voices as they continue to speak the lines “music played and people sang…” while wiggling.

The introduction of voice after particular physical experiences like wiggling at the end of ‘Bang Banh’ sensitises the actor to how the body can inform the voice, or how they can have a very different quality in the body and the voice. There is another example in the following exercise, ‘Hangin Five’ but this time with bouncing.

‘Hangin’ Five’

To the song ‘Hangin Five’ by the Delltones.

This exercise is significant as an example of NSP playfully using Australian surfing music and cultural references in the training. It is often done with an object in hand such as a stick or a soft cloth. The strict parameters around space and time are also typical of NSP formats. The strict parameters help actor’s to find something new as a result of limitations. For example in ‘Hanging Five’ they start the improvisation in the upper body only. Not being allowed to move their feet encourages them to find more possibilities in the upper body.

The performer begins at the back of the space facing an imagined audience. When the music begins they improvise in the upper body and arms only for the introduction, not moving feet or walking until the singing begins.

At a certain point in the music they can start moving forward, continuing their improvisation, but now with locomotion forward or backward as they like. They can use levels, move fast or slow. They can use the accents and rhythms in the music to support their improvisation.

By the very first word of the chorus, they must have their toes hanging over the edge of the stage or over a line at the front of the training space. They should not be early. They must not be late either. If one person doesn’t make it, often the whole group will start again. This repetition is done in a good-humoured way, not as punitive discipline, but to reiterate that sometimes in performance, that level of mindful attention to detail is required, even when improvising. Around that space-time structure, the performer can improvise creatively with the idea of surfing, ocean, water, waves, sharks and so on. They should avoid literally miming things. Instead, they should allow their response to the stimulus of ocean and surfing to be somewhat stylised or abstracted rather than literal representations. For example, they might imagine being dumped by a wave, but perform that in slow motion to see what arises in body and imagination. They might imagine themselves bobbing in the water like seaweed or balancing on a surfboard. Perhaps the stick they are carrying becomes the seaweed.

There is a ‘bobbing’ quality to the end of the song. As the song fades out, they are asked to take that bobbing quality into their bodies, whatever that means to them. Typically, they are then asked to speak one of the training speeches, while keeping up the bobbing quality in the body as they add voice.

The introduction of voice after particular physical experiences sensitise the actor to how the body can inform the voice, or how they can have a very different quality in the body and the voice. These kinds of improvisations also present trainees with imaginative challenges to which they respond physically through the body. Flexibility of the imagination is emphasised in NSP. If Nobbs and Carroll see someone being stuck or limited by literal fixation on the stimulus, they will offer suggestions to help get them out of that. Those suggestions might be to use of slow motion or super-fast motion, or they might be more imagistic, to call out ‘shark attack’ just to free them being stuck in a pattern and to get the performer responding instinctively to a suggestion in the moment and integrating that suggestion into their improvisation in whatever way they like. These will be directed either to the whole group or to one individual who might need to help to avoid getting stuck. The focus of improvisation in NSP is not so much the generation of material for a creative process. Rather it is to develop the quality of the performer’s attention, their capacity for imaginative flexibility in improvisation and their ability to integrate structure or instruction within improvisation.

‘Rose Marie’

To the song Rose Marie by Slim Whitman (1954). The exercise is also called Teddy Bears sometimes, because of the toy object it incorporates. It is a good example of how NSP formats draw on specific musical qualities to inform the actor’s work physically, vocally and imaginative. There is a somewhat fragile shaky quality to everything in this song, from the old vinyl recording still evident in the digitised version, to the simple piano accompaniment and certainly Slim’s voice in this love song. Again, there are strict parameters of time and space to adhere to that provides a structure for an otherwise very open improvisation.

The performer starts facing a wall, with their back facing the direction of the audience. Each performer has situated a teddy bear or soft toy of some kind downstage in line with their position. They will move towards ‘teddy’ during the first part of the exercise. During the instrumental introduction they must start to turn when the music starts, while keeping their feet planted and one hand connected to the wall. They must sustain this one simple action – turning – for much longer than might feel comfortable. The intent is the limitations might help them to discover more possibilities.

When Slim starts to sing the first lyrics, they should step off, moving forward towards the audience at first sustaining the position they had on the wall as they move off. Gradually that position can dissolve and evolve as the improvisation progresses. They move towards the teddy bear or object who becomes a kind of witness or scene partner in their work.

On a very precise agreed music cue they must pick up teddy, integrating the object into their work. Sometimes this is with a sudden jump and spin throwing the teddy and catching it again.

As they retreat backwards away from the audience to the back wall where they began, they improvise, with the object, mindful of their own gaze, teddy’s focus and the gaze of the imagined audience. The teddy should not be a dead object, it should be carried in such a way that the object is activated and connected to the actor and their work.

They must arrive at the back wall with teddy touching the wall at a very specific moment in the music. Teddy should be facing the audience and the performer should be facing teddy with their back to the imagined audience. In a sense, they are looking through teddy to the audience.

The exercise ends with the invitation to speak text, using the experience of the exercise to inform their voice. This includes drawing on the quality of the music and the singer’s voice to affect the quality of the voice when speaking. The performer is invited to speak:  first in their own voice (whatever that means to them); then in ‘teddy’s voice’ (whatever that means to them); and finally to mix teddy’s voice and their own voice.

Photos of the format ‘Rose Marie’ or ‘Teddy Bears’. Image by F Barbe.
From the symposium ‘Beyond the Stomp: The Nobbs Suzuki Praxis (April 2019)

Video of the North American Virtual Launch of the TDPT Special Issue, ‘Performance Training and Well-Being.’

The North American virtual launch of the Special Issue “Performance Training and Well-Being” (Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 13.2) took place on October 15, 2022. This special issue, co-edited by Virginie Magnat (University of British Columbia) and Nathalie Gauthard (Université d’Artois), features thirty-eight contributors from eleven countries. The launch was hosted by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research ( and sponsored by the UBC-funded “Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-Being” Research Cluster (

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.

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Video of the Performance Training and Well-Being Special Issue Launch

The virtual launch of the Special Issue “Performance Training and Well-Being” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (13.2) took place on June 28, 2022, with keynote addresses by Eugenio Barba ( and Matthieu Ricard (

This special issue, co-edited by Virginie Magnat (University of British Columbia) and Nathalie Gauthard (Université d’Artois), features thirty-eight contributors from eleven countries. The virtual launch was hosted by the Université d’Artois in France and sponsored by the UBC-funded “Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-Being” Research Cluster ( in partnership with the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (

Akram Khan in Conversation with Janet O’Shea on Brazilian ju-jitsu

Recorded for the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) Blog, associated with the TDPT academic journal to connect to their special issue on Martial Arts and Training.

Conducted on Zoom between Los Angeles and London on Tuesday, 24 January, 2023, this was an opportunity to explore, through a conversation between Janet and Akram, two practitioners of Brazilian ju-jitsu, the nature of the practice and its relationship to training for performance.  This was inspired by the piece written by Akram Khan for the Financial Times in December 2021, ‘Akram Khan on Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his beautiful midlife crisis’, and suggested by Paul Allain, a co-editor of the special issue.


Akram Khan

Akram Khan (he/him) is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists of today. In just over 22 years he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the arts in the UK and abroad. His reputation has been built on the success of imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as Jungle Book reimaginedOutwitting the DevilXENOSUntil the LionsKaashiTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESHVertical RoadGnosis and zero degrees.

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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:

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. 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.

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.

Turse, P. 2003. “Martial Arts and Acting Arts.” Journal of Theatre Combatives, May.

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.

Embodied and Oral Land Acknowledgement

Virginie Magnat (France/Canada): “HÍSW̱ḴE (SENĆOŦEN word used to express gratitude, to give thanks)”

Embodied Land Acknowledgement:

Oral Land Acknowledgement:

Virginie Magnat’s training is rooted in the teachings of Rena Mirecka and Zygmunt Molik, two founding members of Jerzy Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre (

Warming up our hearts

“Warm up the body,
but not only the body,
because all inner motivations
are full of joy.”

Rena Mirecka is a founding member of Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre. She is the only woman to have performed in all of its productions, and is a specialist in the physical exercises known as plastiques.

Never Ending Narrative Video showcase

Never Ending Narrative is a video showcase created by the Wayne State University Virtual Dance Collaboratory (VDC)—a student-led dance company dedicated to digital media creation. The video series includes original screendances and video interviews of students speaking honestly about their experiences making art during the pandemic. The entire showcase was created during the Winter 2021 semester and exemplifies students’ desires to cultivate joy in the midst of deep frustration and loss.

For the authors’ discussion of this video showcase, please see their article in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing: Jessica Rajko et al. (US) “Reimagining Dance and Digital Media Training in an Era of Techno-Neoliberalism: Collective Pedagogical Models for Digital Media Education in Dance”

Notes on Contributors:

Jessica Rajko is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University. Her research includes critical scholarly and artistic approaches to research at the intersection of dance and computing. Her most recent research investigates how and why dance-based practices are integrated, adopted, and at times appropriated in computing research. She has presented and performed nationally and internationally, including Amsterdam’s OT301, Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche festival, and The Joyce Theatre’s Gotham Festival. Author 1 has also presented her research at several transdisciplinary institutional programs such as Harvard’s Digital Futures Consortium, UPenn’s Price Lab for Digital Humanities, and University of New Mexico’s ART Lab.

Alesyn M. McCall is the Media and Production Coordinator in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. A multidisciplinary artist, Alesyn is passionate about producing and promoting media designed to empower marginalized communities. Since 2010, McCall has worked professionally as a videographer, photographer, cinematographer, hip-hop artist, and editor for numerous documentary, experimental and promotional films. McCall obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Washington, DC with a major in Radio, Television and Film Production and will complete her Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Wayne State University in Spring 2022.

Ethan Williams is a recent graduate of Wayne State University with a Masters in Fine Arts in Theatre Management. His primary focus during his degree was photography and videography to market theatre and dance performances. Ethan hopes to continue to use these content creation skills in the future to market the arts in a visually compelling manner. He is currently pursuing career options in New York City, where he will be moving in October of this year, and is MS in Camp Administration from Touro University of Nevada. Lindsey has experience stage managing plays, musicals, dance concerts, opera, and special events. She has spent her professional career working in theatre as a project manager, as a teacher, and as a camping professional where she served as the head of the theatre department and production manager at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts.

Introducing the Barba Varley Foundation Website

The Barba Varley Foundation has been created to promote the vision, the causes and the values developed by the Odin Theater since its foundation. It continues a vision of groups and theatre artists who demonstrate the transformative function of theatre and establish themselves as autonomous cells of another system of production and relationships. In particular, the Foundation aimed at the « nameless » of theater. Its purpose is to support fields of action animated by people who are disadvantaged by gender, ethnicity, geography, age, ways of thinking and acting inside and outside theatre.

For more context around the Barba Varley Foundation, read the Extended Conversation with Eugenio Barba and Nathalie Gautard in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing.

Cultivating Vessel and Voice: Three Videos

This video demonstration connects to the essai “Cultivating Vessel and Voice: Embodiment as a Way of Being in Performer Training” by Gey Pin Ang and Ranice Tay in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing. 

Both practitioners shared their experience beyond paradigms of performer training by drawing on their physical and vocal practices stemming from Sourcing Within’s notion of “care of self”. 

Care of Self in Physical Training:

Care of Self in Song:

Care of Self – from Vessel To Voice:

Gey Pin Ang 

Gey Pin is a practice-researcher from Singapore. She co-founded and was the artistic director of Theatre OX. Formerly, she was an actress with the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, Italy, under the company’s Project The Bridge: developing theatre arts. Since 2016, she initiated Sourcing Within comprising of international workshops, cross-disciplinary embodied researches in performing arts and anthropology. Her works are featured in journals and books dedicated to intercultural theatre and anthropology. She holds a PhD in Drama by Practice-as-Research from the University of Kent. 

Tay Kai Xin Ranice 

Ranice is a multi-disciplinary theatre and martial arts practitioner from Singapore. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a BA (Hons) in Theatre Studies, where she was also a recipient of the NUS CFA Performing and Visual Arts Scholarship. She collaborates avidly with Ang Gey Pin, and has worked internationally as a teacher and performer. Her artistic practice is rooted in primality, embodiment, and surrender. She perceives the body as an open vessel, and creates to invite the encounter inside and beyond the self. 

Relational Performance Pedagogy: Documentary Film

This two-hour documentary film is linked to the essai “Relational Performance Pedagogy: North American Innovations in the Lineages of Decroux and Grotowski” in the TDPT special issue on Wellbeing. The film features the pedagogical innovations of the four teachers, Dean Fogal, Linda Putnam, Kathleen Weiss, and David MacMurray Smith. It includes footage gathered during a week of shared participatory research in July 2018 which I hosted with these senior artists, plus a subsequent three-day intensive workshop that three of the teachers led for twenty-three participants.  

Claire Fogal:

Supported by SSHRC and the Public Scholars Initiative, Claire Fogal’s doctoral work at UBC celebrates her father Dean Fogal and the other senior Grotowski and Decroux based theatre artists who are her primary mentors. A Vancouver director, actor, teacher and creator, Claire is a graduate of UBC (BA in Theatre and English Literature), UAlberta (MFA in Directing) and Tooba Physical Theatre Centre (where she became the Director of Educational Programming). Claire is Artistic Director of Minotaur’s Kitchen, supported by Cor Departure Physical Theatre Society, which she co-founded in 2000, and contract faculty at Douglas College. Portfolio: 

Performance Training as Healing

Sonia’s Monologue:

This is an excerpt of Sonya’s monologue from the Indigenous adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Floyd Favel and performed by Sabina Sweta Sen-Podstawska. This video was recorded by Adam Podstawski. Originally the adaptation took place on the Poundmaker Reserve, on the land by a lake. This excerpt was recorded in a park in Chorzow, Poland as Sabina tried to remember and recreate the original performance to demonstrate the use of Plains Indigenous Sign Language (PISL) in indigenous performance. Some of the PISL used in this excerpt are: time, before, know, woman and the dance mudras from Indian classical dance Odissi, incorporated are: flower, bird, mirror. The gestures, action signs from the sign language and dance mudras are used according to their original ways but also as impulses and half formed gestures that originate in the body as it connects with the land through movement. In this process, traditions, cultures and languages meet: English and Bengali language in a Tagore song meet the Plains Indigenous Sign Language and mudras from Indian classical dance Odissi.

Excerpts from Uncle Vanya:

This video presents excerpts from an Indigenous adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Floyd Favel as a tale of colonization. It was part of performance training workshops and festivals organized by Miyawata Culture on Poundmaker Reserve in Canada in the summer of 2018 and 2019. Participants included artists, theatre directors, performers and academics from Canada and Poland. The video was recorded and edited by Noah Favel. The adaptation focuses on a healing journey of two protagonists: Uncle Vanya and Sonya. Sonya returns back to her home and land to honour her beloved uncle on his funeral. As she enters the abandoned house, she encounters the memories of her own lost soul, younger Sonya who is stuck in the old house along with the spirit of her deceased uncle. According to Indigenous shamanistic beliefs, one of the major causes of life’s illness is we leave a part of our spirit behind, that does not grow. Re-living the story of colonization offers a healing process for Sonya and sets free the uncle Vanya’s spirit.

About the Practitioners:

Sabina Sweta Sen-Podstawska, an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Silesia in Poland, holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Exeter, an MA in South Asian Dance Studies from the University of Roehampton in London and BA-MA in English Literature and Culture from the University of Silesia in Katowice. Her research interests embrace sensory-somatic awareness in Odissi dance, body-mind relationship, somatic studies, and psychophysical training and performance, minority cultures, and dance and performance of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. As a dancer and performer, she continues her embodied explorations through Odissi dance crisscrossing disciplines and mediums. 

Floyd Favel is a theatre theorist and Cree cultural leader based in Saskatchewan. He studied theatre in Denmark at the Tukak Teatret and in Italy with Jerzy Grotowski. He has developed his own theatre process he entitles ‘Native Performance Culture’, or NPC. He is the curator of the Chief Poundmaker Museum (winner of the 2018 International Indigenous Tourism Award). In 2020 he was awarded the Multi-Cultural Leadership Award in Saskatchewan. He produced a documentary on the Delmas Indian Residential School which opened the Presence Autochtone Film Festival in Montreal in 2021.

CfP: Performer Training Working Group, TaPRA, 2022 — Passing it On: Genealogies and Legacies of Training

Deadline for Proposals: 1 April, 2022

Conference: 12-14 September, 2022, University of Essex.

Training isn’t easily contained within a single person. Although the individual subject is often the nexus where training is realized, it generally depends upon a community for its sustenance, upon trainers to pass the disciplines on, upon trainees to carry them forward, and upon successive generations to rediscover and renew the practices. The focus of this year’s meeting of the working group is about these processes of passing training on.

This discussion leads on from our focus in 2021’s conference on Training and Agency. From one perspective the genealogies and legacies of training might represent the structure against which individuals assert their agency. However, from another point of view these ideas might provide alternative structures that empower individuals through collectivity, tradition and community. What might be the narratives of training through which an individual ascribes meaning to their own practice? Could these narratives offer people and communities a site of resistance to an individualizing capitalist culture?

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CfP: TDPT Special Issue: Touch and Training

Special issue: Touch and Training to be published June 2023

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest editors
Dr Ha Young Hwang, Korea National University of Arts, School of Drama, Seoul, South Korea ([email protected])
Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel, East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, London, UK. ([email protected])
Liz Mills, AFDA The School for the Creative Economy, Cape Town, SouthAfrica ([email protected]).

Training Grounds editor
Dr Sara Reed, Independent researcher, writer and project manager ([email protected]

Touch and Training (Issue 14.2)
Global happenings throughout this past decade, such as ♯MeToo, ♯blacklivesmatter, Asian Spring, Arab Spring, the Marriage Act (2013 UK) and Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” law (2013), and COVID-19, have radically repositioned touch in performance and performer training. Touch is a socio-cultural event, a political act between two people as well as a network of power positions and layers of institutional infrastructure: who touches, how does/should one touch, why and when can/should touch occur? These questions when raised within performance traditions, theatre, film and television rehearsal and performance spaces and performer training studios ask creative artists to (re)consider the ways we think about, talk about and stage touch: for instance, the rise of the “intimacy coordinator” in response to concerns about the inequitability of touch during re-enactments of intimacy is only one of a number of recent developments in performance-related fields (re)considering the role of touch during the creative process.

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TDPT Issue 12.3 – Performer Training in Australia, Now Published

In an oft-repeated anecdote, Australian actor Nick Lathouris tells of the arrival of Jerzy Grotowski’s ideas in Australia in 1969 — courtesy of a badly-Xeroxed copy of Towards a Poor Theatre that circulated between the acting company that formed around director Rex Cramphorn in Sydney as a kind of hallowed totem, a connection to a rich vein of tradition and experimentation in training in a continent that was sorely lacking both. Speaking of the same period, playwright John Romeril remembers the early days of the Australian Performing Group (APG) recalls: “much of what we did by way of acting exercises we drew from magazines and books. We read of and ripped off whatever came our way”. Origin myths such as these inform Ian Maxwell’s characterisation of Australian trainers and trainees as “theatrical bowerbirds”, metaphorising the distinctive Austro-Papuan bird family that is renowned for a courtship ritual where the male decorates his bower with an eclectic range of bright objects, both natural and inorganic. Down under, disconnected from the celebrated training traditions of the northern hemisphere in the decades before globalised publishing, Australian trainers collected whatever they could get their hands on, arranging bespoke lineages that combined native and imported traditions.

A satin bowerbird at his bower in Lamington National Park, Queensland. Photograph by Joseph C Boone. CC BY-SA 4.0.
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Student Reflections on Psychophysical Training, Part One: Injury/Recovery


by James McLaughlin

Many trainers are used to writing – preserving their experiences, their systems of training, and their worldview in words.  What is often forgotten is that there is more than one person in the studio, that the discoveries of the ‘master’ are due to the work of the ‘student’, and that the thoughts, voice, and discoveries of the students might be as valuable to understanding the phenomena of training as those of the trainer.  A desire to demonstrate this was the impulse behind this collection of posts from five students who I have led through a version of Phillip Zarrilli’s psychophysical training at the University of Greenwich this year.

The Covid-19 pandemic set up a unique experience for me and the diversity of the students’ reflections shows that I am not alone in this.  Alicia Bowditch-Gibbs’ piece shows the compromises made to allow an injured body to acclimatize to the training and the way a new training can resonate with older strata of training in the body.  Paul Cole writes of recovering from Covid and the adjustments and innovations he was forced to make to fully engage with the work.  To put these into context, I will introduce the student contributions with my own background with the training.  In a follow-up post, three more students will reflect on the role of breath, spirit, and neurodiversity in training.

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TDPT Issue 12.2 – Independent Dance and Movement Training, Now Published

What is independence? Independent from what or whom? And what is training, learning and knowing?

These questions have formed the basis of our approach to this issue. Seemingly simple, these questions have been at the heart of Independent Dance’s work since 1984, when the organisation emerged out of informal collaborations between artists seeking a common ground to share training opportunities across dance forms. Remaining artist-led ever since, ID is preoccupied with supporting learning through dance, and with articulating what that might mean, and for whom.

We were therefore delighted to accept the invitation to guest-edit Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and have aimed to carry these threads throughout. We were also keen to reach beyond the boundaries of our own context and traverse borders between fields and forms. While ID has historically been associated with somatic practices, the range of practices featured in this issue is true both to the original intention of ID to support a very wide breadth of forms, and to our current commitment to supporting research across forms of dance, with questioning and open-ended curiosity being key ingredients, rather than an emphasis on product or aesthetic.

Through an international call-out, we invited proposals illuminating as broad a range of perspectives as possible, exploring how artists create, practice, and develop independent training forms, and what current practitioners consider relevant.

The resulting issue, published in July 2021, includes contributions ranging from articles to one-page ‘postcards’, by the following artists and writers: ‘Funmi Adewole, Casey Avaunt, Katrina Brown, Laura Cervi, Guy Dartnell, Thomasin Gülgeç, Stefan Jovanović, Lliane Loots, Simone Kenyon, Georgia Paizi, Helen Poynor / Hilary Kneale / Paula Kramer, Aswathy Rajan, Carolyn Roy, Stephanie Sachsenmaier, Niamh Dowling / Miranda Tufnell / Lucia Walker, Rebecca Weber, Simon Whitehead. It concludes with an obituary for Nancy Stark Smith written by Colleen Bartley.

The editors have selected the following two articles to be free to access until the end of October:

‘The dance artistry of Diane Alison-Mitchell and Paradigmz: Accounting for professional practice between 1993 and 2003’ by ’Funmi Adewole

‘Impermeable bodies: Women who lion dance in Boston’s Chinatown’ by Casey Avaunt


EditorialHenrietta HaleNikki TomlinsonGitta Wigro & Sara Reed

The Companionship ScoresCarolyn Roy (Article)

Impermeable bodies: Women who lion dance in Boston’s ChinatownCasey Avaunt (Article — free to access in September and October 2021)

‘Critical Pathways’ – Training and Investigating the Art of Choreography-Making with Rosemary ButcherStefanie Gabriele Sachsenmaier (Article)

Decolonising dance pedagogy? Ruminations on contemporary dance training and teaching in South Africa set against the specters of colonisation and apartheidLliane Loots (Article)

Tik Tok and generation ZLaura Cervi (Essai)

“From ‘Guru-mukha’ to Contemporaneity”: metamorphosing divergent trajectories of Mohiniyattam pedagogy and performativityAswathy Rajan (Article)

StandingThomasin Gülgeç (postcard)

Getting into your head: social distancing and the intimacy of audio-only movement sessions on earpodsGeorgia Paizi (postcard)

.Behind from Appears NoticingKatrina Brown (postcard)

Post card from an insider artistGuy Dartnell (postcard)

Journeying towards multitudinous bodies: working with body weather practices through the creation of Into the MountainSimone Kenyon (Essai)

Walk of Life Training in Non-stylised and Environmental MovementHelen PoynorPaula Kramer & Hilary Kneale (Article)

The dance artistry of Diane Alison-Mitchell and Paradigmz: Accounting for professional practice between 1993 and 2003Funmi Adewole (Article — free to access in September and October 2021)

Holding the edge: between embodied trauma and choreographic learningStefan Jovanović (Essai)

Shared discoveries in theatre and danceNiamh DowlingMiranda Tufnell & Lucia Walker (Article)

LocatorSimon Whitehead (Essai)

Social (distance) dancing during covid with project trans(m)itRebecca Weber (Essai)

Nancy Stark Smith February 11, 1952 – May 1, 2020. Dancer, Teacher, Writer, Curator, Editor, PhenomenonColleen Bartley (Obituary)

Notes on Contributors:

Guest editors, special issue

Henrietta Hale is co-director of Independent Dance (ID) since 2018, leading the curation of an artist-led, dance development and research organisation. She has a 25 year dance artist practice, most significantly as founder member of collective Dog Kennel Hill Project since 2004, creating performance research across theatre, gallery, screen and unusual sites, within a range of producing partnerships such as Whitechapel Gallery, Dance Umbrella, and Brighton CCA. Roles as a dancer/collaborator include Ricochet Dance Productions and Rosemary Lee projects and movement direction with visual artists. She has taught regularly in higher education contexts, significantly, Trinity Laban (2002 − 2013).

Nikki Tomlinson is a producer and dramaturg with a background in curation and performance-making. Over the past 20 years she has developed interests in performance, participation, social justice and interdisciplinarity, advocacy for and with artists and widening access in every sense to experimental work. Her previous roles include Lead Artist Advisor/Producer at Artsadmin, Programme Manager and later co-chair of Chisenhale Dance Space, ESOL Course Leader and Refugee Advisor at Hackney Community College. She joined Independent Dance as co-director in March 2020. Alongside her role with ID she is a Trustee of Home Live Art and continues to work freelance across the UK and internationally.

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 & Spiritualties. She is Co-chair for Independent Dance and a trustee for Wriggle Dance Theatre – for children and families.

Gitta Wigro is a former co-director of Independent Dance. She is a freelance dance film programmer and curator, and part of the team behind the MA Screendance at London Contemporary Dance School. She has worked in artist and artform development at The Place, Arts Council England, and Independent Dance, as well as in freelance roles. As a dance film specialist, she has worked with many international festivals, including Leeds International Film Festival (UK), COORPI (IT), Festival Quartiers Danses (CA) Dance Umbrella (UK), among many others. She co-ordinates the International Screendance Calendar and other resources to support the dance film field.

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).

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).


Funmi Adewole moved from Nigeria to Britain in 1994. She performed with African dance drama and physical theatre companies in Britain for several years before studying for a doctorate in Dance Studies. She is a senior lecturer at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Casey Avaunt is Assistant Professor of Dance in the Department of Performing Arts at Elon University. Her research interests include critical dance theory, Asian and Asian American performance, and the role of culture and gender in the production of choreography.

Colleen Bartley is an independent dance artist and improviser who lives with an invisible disability. She co-edited Contact Quarterly CI Newsletter (US) with NSS & co-organises London Contact Improvisation (UK). She holds a degree from Swarthmore College and a diploma from Laban Centre London. She teaches movement & dance and creates film and performance.

Laura Cervi is Serra-Hunter Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. PhD in Political Science from the University of Pavia (Italy) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). Journalist and amateur dancer. Her main research interest is media literacy and citizen participation.

Niamh Dowling is Head of School of Performance at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London. Niamh trained with Monika Pagneux in Paris, Anne Bogart, Nancy Topf and Eva Karczag in New York and as a teacher of the Alexander Technique with Don Burton. She collaborated closely with Teatr Piesn Kozla in Poland for fifteen years. Niamh has been training in Systemic Constellations for 8 years, which has deeply influenced her practice and supported her holistic approach to education and performance training. Niamh is one of the practitioners on the online Routledge Performance Archive.

Stefan Jovanović is a queer-neurodivergent performance-maker who designs spaces and site-specific performances. His artistic practice embraces a maximalist aesthetic, creating speculative fabulations about future-forms of kinship and social healing. As a trained trauma therapist and architect, he incorporates spatial dramaturgy and philosophies of well-being into spaces of cultural production.

Simone Kenyon is an intra-disciplinary artist, dancer and Feldenkrais practitioner. For over twenty years she has developed a practice of expanded choreographies; encompassing movement, ecology, cultural geographies and walking arts to create participatory events for both urban and rural contexts. She is a current PhD researcher at the University of Leeds.

Hilary Kneale is an independent interdisciplinary artist, who works in collaboration with others from different fields. She is a published writer, movement practitioner, educator, guardian of Vision Quest, and healer, living within her own quest to remember the true nature of interrelatedness. Her work is widely body based and includes performance and ritual in the landscape, calling strongly to the ancient stories held deep within the earth. Having trained to embody, develop and teach practices with support of the work of Helen Poynor, and Northern Drum Shamanic Centre, she inhabits ways of opening the body, heart and mind, that reawaken the native soul.

Paula Kramer is an artist-researcher and movement artist based in Berlin. She holds an artistic PhD in Dance (Coventry University) and was a post-doctoral researcher at Uniarts Helsinki (2016–2019). Her work explores intermateriality through site-specific outdoor movement, rooted in Amerta Movement (Suryodarmo) and Non-stylised and Environmental Movement (Poynor). She collaborates with materials of many different orders as active agents in the creation of movement, performance and choreography; as well as daily life practices and sense-making. She publishes widely in the context of artistic research through bodily practices and is a board member of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices.

Lliane Loots holds the position of Dance Lecturer in the Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She completed her PhD in 2018 looking at contemporary dance histories on the African continent. As an artist/scholar her PhD research is framed within an ethnographic and autoethnographic paradigm with a focus on narrative as methodology. Loots founded Flatfoot Dance Company as a professional dance company in 2003 when it grew out of a dance training programme that originally began in 1994. As the artistic director for Flatfoot, she has travelled extensively within the African continent with her dance work.

Helen Poynor is an independent movement artist specialising in site-specific and autobiographical performance and cross-artform collaborations. She runs the Walk of Life training and workshop programmes in Non-stylised and Environmental Movement on the Jurassic coast in East Devon/West Dorset. Helen is acknowledged as a teacher by Anna Halprin and Suprapto Suryodarmo, with whom she trained. She is a mentor for established and emerging dancers and practitioners and a guest associate teacher with Tamalpa UK. Helen has contributed chapters and articles on her work to numerous dance publications including the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices. Helen is a registered dance movement therapist and somatic movement therapist.

Aswathy Rajan is a Lecturer in Dance at the International School of Creative Arts, Cochin, Kerala. She received BPA in Mohiniyattam from Kerala-Kalamandalam (2009) and MPA Dance from University of Hyderabad (2012) with First Rank. She qualified for UGC- Assistant Professor in Dance and started her Ph.D. as a UGC-JRF/SRF at the University of Hyderabad in 2020. During her Ph.D., she worked as a teaching assistant at the Dept. of Dance, UOH. She authored two books; “Dancethesis: An Amalgam of Dance perspectives” and “Aesthetics of Kuchipudi” besides writing several articles.

Carolyn Roy is a London based dancer who performs and teaches in the independent dance sector. Her work is concerned with attention, perception, being-with others and encountering our environment. Her current preoccupation is the political agency of dancing. She has recently completed a PhD at the University of Roehampton.

Stefanie Sachsenmaier (PhD Middlesex University, DEA Sorbonne Nlle, MA Goldsmiths College, SFHEA) is Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts at Middlesex University and Programme Leader of BA Theatre Performance and Production. Her research centres on the processual in creative practice, with a particular interest in the ways that performance extends into the socio-political context. She co-edited Collaboration in Performance Practice (Palgrave 2016) and published a series of writings related to her long-term research with British choreographer Rosemary Butcher. She has a background as a performer and is an experienced practitioner of Wu Style tai chi chuan.

Miranda Tufnell is a dance artist, writer and teacher in movement and imagination and also an Alexander teacher and cranio-sacral therapist. She has been teaching and making performances for 40 years. Her work explores the ways movement shapes our sense of meaning, language and perception. With Chris Crickmay, she created a film Dance Without Steps and co-authored two handbooks on sourcing creative work: Body Space Image (1990) and A Widening Field (2004). She has worked extensively in the field of arts and health as documented in her most recent book, When I Open My Eyes – Dance Health Imagination (2017)

Lucia Walker has been teaching Alexander Technique internationally to both individuals and groups since 1987. She is also a movement artist and teacher specialising in contact improvisation and ‘instant’ composition, teaching and collaborating in dance, physical theatre, communication and movement research projects (Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative and Flatfoot Dance Company, South Africa, Rosetta Life, England). She works with a wide range of people including young people, people with chronic illness, professional musicians and singers. Working with performers is a particular interest and Lucia works regularly with classical musicians, singers, actors and dancers. She is also involved in Alexander Technique teacher training and assessment of readiness to teach Alexander Technique.

Rebecca Weber, PhD, MFA, MA, RSME/RSMT/RSDE, THE, FHEA is a Dance Studies lecturer at the University of Auckland. Co-director of Project Trans(m)it, director of Somanaut Dance, and editor for Dance, Movement, and Spiritualities, Weber’s research interests include: somatics, technology, choreography, cognition, and pedagogy.

Simon Whitehead is a movement artist and craniosacral therapist living in west Wales. Simon hosts the Locator workshop series and is a member of Maynard, an interdisciplinary artist collective that collaborate on a programme of engaged dance activity in the village of Abercych, working through on-going residencies, the village dance, workshops, local and international partnerships. As part of an AHRC-funded PhD(PaR), based at the University of Glasgow, he is currently exploring what posthuman ecology means with reference to an expanded choreography of touch.

Training Grounds Call for Postcards (TDPT Journal)

Amidst the current disruption the Training Grounds’ section of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal continues its search for responses to our regular themed Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme. Our next theme (for the Winter 2020 issue) is:

Training and Buildings

Call out for TDPT’s regular, themed, Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme.

We are interested in receiving responses from anyone engaged in thinking about/doing training for performance in all its myriad forms.

You could be a formal ‘Trainer’, a doer, a student, a practitioner, a provider, a supporter, or a thinker about training. You could work in theatre, dance, music, circus, live/performance arts, design or construction for performance, or any other connected discipline.

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CfP: Proposals for the Performer Training Working Group, TaPRA, 2021

We would like to announce the call for proposals for the Performer Training Working Group of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference : 6-10 Sept, online & co-hosted by Liverpool Hope University.

The Performer Training Working Group’s theme is Training and Agency.

For full details of the call, details concerning submission, costs and bursaries, please visit our TaPRA page:

Please do share to anyone else who you think would be interested in joining us.

Please note, deadline for submitting proposal is Friday, April 9th.

In addition, look out for an additional email call to an exciting online interim event that we are putting together and will share with you in a couple of week’s time.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us (the Working Group convenors: Sarah Weston ([email protected]), James McLaughlin ([email protected]) and Jane Turner ([email protected]) should you have any queries/questions.

TDPT Issue 12.1 Published

This new issue of the journal is international in scope with rich contributions from around the globe including articles on indigenous theatre in New Zealand, explorations of planetary performance pedagogy from practitioner scholars in Singapore, USA and Australia, training histories in Australia and in the former Yugoslavia, and a collated series of conversations on theatre pedagogy from Drama School Mumbai. Contributions include short essais, postcards and reviews as well as articles, several of which respond to creative responses to being in the midst of a pandemic.

It’s always a delight to see how submissions to one of the open issues of TDPT reveal new debates simply by sitting side by side with each other. In 12.1 a prominent theme that emerges is that of tracing past training practices and examining how they link with or challenge contemporary training experiences. One way of exploring this, beyond the pages of the issue, is to read the essai on Peter Hulton’s pioneering work on Arts Archive that links perfectly with Hulton’s offer here in the blog to make a wide range of training workshops available to explore.  .


Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches, Chris Hay and Aiden Condron

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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 ([email protected])
and Prof. Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań ([email protected]).
Training Grounds Editor: Thomas Wilson, Rose Bruford College, London ([email protected]).

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: [email protected] and [email protected]. Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson ([email protected]), 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:

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: [email protected] and [email protected].
  • 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.