Rebellion of the Cell

Rebellion of the Cell re-imagines Butoh dance with the modern developments in cellular biology. The performance stems from the collaboration between Karolina Bieszczad-Stie, Yuko Kaseki and the Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming at the University of Oslo, and is about the dancer experiencing the body as a coalition of individual cells, herself as a single cell, and even part of a cell, which mutates, and so performs mutiny against that coalition. This self focused cell mutiny is the essence of what cancer is. Grotesque yet poetic dance performance unfolds questions about what it means to be an individual, a concept which gets increasingly blurry the closer one looks at the body.

As a result of using cancer research and Butoh as mutual lenses to examine one another, more and more unexpected paradoxes are brought to light: beautiful confocal micrographs of cancer cells contrasting with suffering bodies of cancer patients; a cancer cell that is not an external invasive microorganism but a natural, although malicious, part of a human body; or the notions of life and death where the cancer cell needs to die in order for the patient to live.

Rebellion of the cell navigates through these complex conflicts, opening up the space for dialogues between scientific and artistic processes, and connecting people and ways of thinking that might otherwise have remained isolated. At the same time, it carries the form and aesthetics of Butoh dance into the 21st century.


Choreography and direction: Karolina Bieszczad-Stie
Choreography and dance: Yuko Kaseki
Scientific collaboration: prof. Harald Stenmark & Ragnhild Eskeland from CanCell - Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming at the University of Oslo
Stage design: Adam Bartley
Lighting design: Stein Stie
Music composer: Simen Korsmo Robertsen
Costumes: Zofia Jakubiec
Production Assistant: Aleksandra Piotrowska
Graphic design: Atocha Crespo
Technician: Thomas Sanne
Special thanks to: Azumaru, prof. Erik Andrew Johannessen, Tara Ishizuka Hassel, Øyvind Jørgensen
Talk after the premiere organised by: Danseinformasjonen
Production: Butoh Encounters


Supported by:


Chunichi Inadomi Fondet

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Limit(less) - pilot project

Limit(less) is a scenario where Karolina Bieszczad-Stie explores human-robot interaction (HRI) in collaboration with Mathias Hauan Arbo from NTNU. She is interested in co-located interactions (dancer-robotic arm-choreographer) and remote interactions (choreographer-programmer-robotic arm). Together with the Department of Engineering Cybernetics they will run a series of practical experiments of the information flow: visuals cues of the dancer’s movement translated into visual gestures of the robot; programming of the robot based on motion capture data from the dancer; dancer’s choreography based on extended mobile possibilities of the robot or on mathematical patterns and rhythms found in the robot programming; butoh-fu - creating impossible images for the dancer to explore in the embodied relation to the robot; exploration of the physical contact - tuning in, moving against each other, teaching/learning of each other. Through this practice, they would also like to examine the limits and crossing the limits of mechanics and body programs, possibilities of developing future kinaesthetic empathy as well as non-classical psychological responses to the robot, and dancer’s interaction with autonomous systems in relation to the human locus of control. 

The artistic collaborative processes will be shared with the audience as choreographic material in a dance duet Limit(less) between a KUKA robotic arm and Japanese dancer Azumaru.

The pilot project will be further developed into a full scale production in 2022. 

Director & producer: Karolina Bieszczad-Stie

Dancer: Azumaru

Collaborator: Department of Engineering Cybernetics at NTNU and KUKA Robotics. 

April - September 2021

Oslo/Trondheim, Norway

Supported by: