Eiko Otake (Choreographer, Dance Artist) received an ACC Fellowship in 2003 as part of the duo Eiko & Koma to research dance in Cambodia and conduct workshops and performances in Phnom Penh. In 2019, she received an ACC/BCAF Contemporary Arts Fellowship support a reciprocal exchange between herself and Beijing-based choreographer/dance artist Wen Hui (ACC 1996, 1998, 2019). Upcoming projects include her talk in Danspace Project (ACC 2005, 2009) "Reimagining Conversations Without Walls" and her performance of "A Body in a Graveyard" at Green-Wood Cemetery. Her writings have been most recently featured in MoMA Magazine in a letter to her friend, colleague and 2009 ACC Fellow Sam Miller (1952-2018).
“I was in China for a month in January this year with the help of the Asian Cultural Council and Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation. The trip was cut short a few days by Covid-19 pandemic, but spending ample time with Wen Hui, conversing with her friends, presenting my video lectures, and workshops were all very rewarding and humbling experiences."
"Most importantly, I learned the resilient and cautious, but determined navigation of independent artists living and working in a country that is politically and culturally different from Japan or the U.S. I sincerely wish not only that we continue to interact with our international colleagues while we are confined in our homes but also that we will be able to gather and visit each other before too long. Difference is an engine of inquiry. We will be patient, but our desire to reach out to each other is strong as ever.”
Just before the impact and severity of coronavirus became known, Eiko and Wen Hui led Delicious Movement Workshop: Intimacy and Proximity at the Goethe Institute in Beijing. Of this piece, she writes: “Next year she can remember Eiko was here. I have always felt and said that distance is malleable and going to a place is a form of choreography and self-curation. And of course, choreography involves improvisation within the contents and within the plan. And self-curation does not mean working alone. Self-curation often actually means co-curation with others one selects and decides/learns to trust. And this sums up my experience in China and being with Wen Hui.”
Eiko taught her first online class at University of Tokyo in June/July and has just completed another series of her signature Delicious Movement Workshop over Zoom as part of the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation. She continues her prolific work as a choreographer, connector, and collaborator in the field of dance. “I want to share with the ACC community my recent project: Virtual Creative Residency hosted by Wesleyan University. I started working on this during my two-week quarantine after I travelled back to Japan from New York. I also use content, video, writings, and dialogues that I created there as part of the text in my teaching.”
What is a virtual studio? Eiko writes, “When I perform in theaters, I can assume that the audience members want to be there and they are relatively healthy and willing. But that is not so when I take an initiative and reach people directly by sending videos when they are confined at home...So, I decided I will create a virtual space where I can share my work for those who want to see, when they want to see. I will be available to receive your visit now or later...The web does not replace the beautiful tension of live performance, but I will share what I can in this format for the time being. My intention is that the contents I create will not merely remain virtual but will become components of future installations and performances.”
It is a space she warmly invites us to participate in, “Please generously offer your eyes, minds, and voices when you can and feel like it...Let me know where/how you are and what you think by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Grantee Reflections is a platform for ACC alumni to share their collective voice as an international community of artists, scholars, and cultural ambassadors. This is a cultural exchange of words, image, video, and sound from around the world. While our bodies cannot travel, our minds can still meet.