|photos by Kate Russell|
Ruth Zaporah entered the dance studio at age 3 and now 6 decades later continues to enter the studio door. The doors have changed as have the locations but the particularities of what she does in the studio, responding to her interest in the body as a vehicle for transformation, has never wavered. Now, a master and pioneer of an internationally received practice of improvisation physical theater, Ruth teaches, performs, and writes about what she calls Action Theater. ( see What's Action Theater on the home page menu)
Her earliest training was ballet. As she says in Baltimore, where she grew up, there was only ballet and tap and her parents wouldn't hear of tap. It was in college that she was introduced to modern dance, immediately being attracted to the dramatic possibilities. After years of ballet, Ruth felt she could finally spread her wings. But for only so long. For a few years later she began creating her own work, veering away from anything that smacked of convention, familiarity. Ruth was determined to find her voice, her way of being on stage.
In the mid sixties, Ruth was offered a job in a Drama Department in a Maryland college. She was hired to teach movement to actors. As she recounts it, the students came in fully dressed, shoes and all and the last thing they seemed to want was a dance class which was exactly what she was prepared to teach. She asked them what they wanted. They said they wanted to embody their characters. As a dancer, Ruth had no idea what embody meant nor the idea of character. For lack of anything else, she said walk. That was the beginning of her fascination and as she says her obsession with improvisation.
In college Ruth majored in philosophy. The summer before, at 17, her father gave her Autobiography of a Yogi to read. Just as she has continued to enter through dance studio doors, she has maintained her devotion to both Eastern and Western practices and understandings of the mindful process. She sees Action Theater as a meeting of the two disciplines -- the body being the doorway through which the mind becomes present – one inseparable from the other.
Ruth has twice received NEA choreography grants as well as numerous other tributes and honors. She takes her work to most continents. Recently she was named a Cultural Envoy by the U.S. State Department.
Her home is in Santa Fe New, Mexico.
What is Action Theater
Zaporah's Teaching Schedule
Action Theater Articles and Interviews
Action Theater - Photo Gallery
Books and DVDs,|
THE IMPROVISATION OF PRESENCE
A MOVING PRESENCE
ACTION THEATER: The Practice
Words on Action, a journal
International List of Teachers
Action Theater Improvisors Near You
Action Theater Home Page