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Theatre and Dance in Asian Cinema

Anna Thuring
language: English
subtitles: Polish, English, Dutch, Finnish, Italian


The lecture takes a look at a selection of films that use traditional forms of Asian theatre and dance as their material. The uses extend from appropriating classical playscripts into incorporating actual traditional performances to the film. The narratives can focus on the lives of individual performers or theatre or dance companies. The classical styles and different motivations for using them in the cinema are introduced and discussed briefly. Examples come from Japan (kabuki, no, bunraku),China (jingju), Indonesia (lengger) and Southern India (kuchipudi, kudiyattam).

Anna Thuring

Anna Marjaana Thuring (former Kurkinen), Ph.D. at University of Helsinki, Theatre Research. Her main research interests are in both traditional and contemporary Asian performance, Western physical theatre, and cultural flows and exchanges between Asian and Western performance and performer training.
Most of her research activity and lecturing takes place at the University of the Arts Helsinki - Theatre Academy where she has also worked as Research Fellow responsible for initiating and managing the Shifting Dialogues – Asian Art and Performance Research project. She is a former president of the Finnish Theatre Research Society and a member of advisory board of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) – Asian Theatre Working Group.


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Further reading

Stage-play and screen-play: the intermediality of theatre and cinema (2017), Michael Ingham, London: Routledge
Asian Traditional Theatre and Dance, (2018), Jukka O Miettinen https://disco.teak.fi/asia/
Tradition, Culture and Aesthetics in Contemporary Asian Cinema (2016), Peter Pugsley London: Routledge
Kon Ichikawa (2001), James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario
A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History with a selective guide to DVDs and videos (2005), Donald Ritchie, Tokyo: Kodansha International.
The Films of Akira Kurosawa (1998), Donald Richie, Berkeley: The University of California Press
Kenji Mizoguchi and the Art of Japanese Cinema (2008), Tadao Sato, N.Y.: Bloomsbury

Online Interviews and Lectures:

Takeshi Kitano on Dolls (2002) and its background

Rianto Manali, Lengger: Unity in A Body. TEDx Universitas Brawijaya

BBC: The traditional dance where men perform as women

Interview Garin Nugroho, Rotterdam International Film Festival

Queer Stories: Farewell My Concubine and The Tragic Story of Leslie Cheung

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