Yumi Umiumare on DasShoku Shake!, political theatre and the nature of hope

DasSHOKU Yumi Umiumare  Photo: Vikk Shayen
DasSHOKU Yumi Umiumare
Photo: Vikk Shayen

Aussie Theatre's Paige Mulholland recently spoke with Yumi Umiumare, about her upcoming show at the Darwin Festival, DasSHOKU SHAKE!, political theatre, and the nature of hope.

Melbourne-based Yumi Umiumare is a self-described “hybrid performer”; a dancer, choreographer and creator of “Butoh Cabaret and visceral dance theatre works”. From her Japanese and Australian cultural influences and eclectic dance training background, to the genre of her work, Umiumare shuns simplicity in favour of dynamic, exploratory performance.

Even as she, in conjunction with Japanese company Theatre GUMBO and the DasShoku Triangle, prepare to re-perform their critically-acclaimed project DasShoku SHAKE! at the 2013 Darwin Festival, Umiumare is constantly re-working and improving the show.  “We try to make it a bit tighter, and the cast was originally ten people but now is eight people, so we’ve made a few adjustments and basically I think we now have a more tight show, and I hope it’s a more slick journey,” she explains.

The fourth component of her DasSHOKU Cabaret series, DasSHOKU SHAKE! explores the idea of “shaking” in its different forms.

“The shake is like an earthquake shake, or human shake, or an emotional shake, or a handshake or a milkshake,” she says. “It’s not just shaking in a traumatic way but a shake for us to activate or stimulate our minds in a good way, in this complicated, modern way of living”

DaSHOKU SHAKE - Yumi Umiumare & Theatre Group GUMBO Photo: Vikii Shayen
DaSHOKU SHAKE – Yumi Umiumare & Theatre Group GUMBO
Photo: Vikii Shayen

DasSHOKU SHAKE!, although dappled with comedy, explores dark content including the 2011 Japanese earthquakes and their impact on the collective psyche of the nation. Having previously collaborated with refugees and worked on pieces with heavy emotional content, Umiumare’s work focuses on finding hope in difficult circumstances.  “Working with asylum seeker people too, it’s always such an intense story … for me, sharing their trauma in their body or their joy in their body, it’s such pure human emotion”, she said.  “An earthquake is the same, it’s such a traumatic incident and it was such a devastating situation in some parts, but through the arts we can embrace that sadness and sorrow but also joy and hope …”

In DasSHOKU SHAKE!, the main character, played by Umiumare, searches for light, eventually finding her own inner luminescence and inner hope. “Fundamentally you have to find your own hope inside of yourself,” Umiumare explains.

This character’s search for hope originally took place in a large-scale eighty-minute production and this latest chapter in the DasSHOKU series was never originally intended to tour, due to the size and expense of the show.  However Umiumare was pursued by a Program Director at the Darwin Festival and eventually decided to re-work the original into a more portable show. Umiumare admits, though, that thanks to her previous experience with the Darwin Festival, she didn’t need much convincing.  “After the premiere season I didn’t think we would have a tour because it’s quite massive with the international cast. Luckily the program manager from Darwin Festival loved it and pursued it and we decided to make a shorter version that’s more cost effective,” Umiumare tells me.

“I’ve done the Darwin Festival before, last year, and I loved it. It’s quite a nice festival, a really friendly and open festival so I am glad we can do it again this year” says Umiumare


20 -22 August 9.30pm

The Amphitheatre, George’s Green



Paige Mulholland

Paige Mulholland is an Adelaide based writer, reviewer and perpetual volunteer for all things artsy in Adelaide. She has a double degree in International Relations and Journalism, and and writes for Adelaide Theatre Guide and ArtsHub as well as AussieTheatre.com. In her spare time, she takes classes in dance, voice and theatre, and sometimes has deep philosophical discussions with her cats.

Paige Mulholland