Rosa van Hensbergen
I research twentieth-century poetry and performance, with a focus on
Japanese and Anglo-American experimental work. Currently, I work on the language that makes bodies move in performance, both on and off the page:
dance notation, verbal instruction, stage directions, and prompts. This
language is often—nearly always—the product of collaborative practice, and so a necessary part of what I do is reconstruct the contexts of its collective production and use; a work which tends to unsettle pictures of performance authorship.
My first book, under contract with Oxford Dance Studies Series (OUP), offers an account of the notational language of butoh dance, as created by its founder Hijikata Tatsumi. I read this notation as a shared language, developed in conversation with a community of dancers, whose notational idiosyncrasies are integral to understanding its priorities as a dance form. To reconstruct this community’s role, I have worked with a number of Hijikata’s former dancers to sort and identify notational materials in order to better understand the choreographic method and the collaborative context that gave rise to it. This has gone hand in hand with practice-led research as a co-founder of POHRC (Perspectives on Hijikata Research Collective) since 2013, as well as archival work at Keio University Art Center since 2012, first as a Daiwa Scholar (2012-14), then as a JSPS visiting fellow (2017), and most recently as a Canon Foundation visiting fellow (2022). My research has also been supported by the Sasakawa Foundation, the Aoi Foundation, and the Getty Foundation.
I have articles and chapters out (and forthcoming) on butoh dance, Samuel Beckett and contemporary dance, Samuel Beckett’s stage directions and Billie Whitelaw’s annotated scripts, as well as on the visual and verbal creations of Scottish poet W.S. Graham. Alongside my research, I translate academic and art writing from Japanese, write and publish poetry, and create performance works in collaboration with choreographers and composers. At Yale I try to find ways to bring creative practice to bear on the ways I research and teach.
Office Hours: Tuesday’s 2:00pm-3:00pm