Yumi Umiumare – Choreographic challenges to (mis)conceptions of Asianness in Australia
Hadley, Bree J. (2005) Yumi Umiumare – Choreographic challenges to (mis)conceptions of Asianness in Australia. In Journeys to the Interior: Australasian Association for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies (ADSA) Annual Conference 2005, 4th-7th July 2005, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, 4th-7th July 2005. (Unpublished)
Since migrating to Australia more than a decade ago, butoh dancer Yumi Umiumare has been interested in performing her Japanese identity ironically, making her own otherness part of an ongoing choreographic challenge to (mis)conceptions of Asianness in Australia. Her butoh-based choreography traverses her body’s outer and inner landscapes to simultaneously expose stereotypes of Asianness, and explore the physical processes constrained by these stereotypes. Umiumare’s strategic performance of stereotypes is risky, readily collapsed back into the culturally ordained images of otherness she is trying to challenge. Nevertheless, Umiumare clearly believes this strategy is the most effective way of making the otherness she experiences as a Japanese woman living in Western society palpable for her largely white audiences, making them uncomfortable with the (mis)conceptions they hold. This strategy is central to How Could You Even Begin To Understand? Version 9-12, the small scale traverse stage performance I consider in this paper.
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