We Salute an International Woman in the Arts 2019: Yokko!

EN /縁

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The visionary mind of performance artist, Yoshiko Usami (AKA Yokko), brings another far-reaching movement & dance piece to New York. EN /縁, sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, will have a limited run (September 13-15) in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts on 106 Calyer Street in Brooklyn reflects the deep connections we achieve in our lives – intentionally and unintentionally – positive and negative – for just one moment or for our entire lives.

en

EN – the Japanese word for this, explores the positive effects of connections. EN is more than just people-connections. We create EN /縁 with people and all living things and even with locations and objects. EN explores the relationship between Nature and all living beings through Butoh dance and Physical Theatre. It explores whether we – as human beings – can create a relationship with people and things we usually take for granted. Every day we carelessly contaminate the Land and the Ocean and even the Air – and all those who inhabit them. EN shows how we can build bridges instead of burning them? Can we truly care for one another?

EN /縁 is 75 minutes but can give you messages that can last a lifetime.

TICKET INFO: $18- for Limited Advanced Sale (until 8/31); $20 General
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4305278
PERFORMANCES: Sept. 13 @ 8pm; Sept. 14 @ 8pm; and Sept. 15 @ 3pm.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Choreographer & Director: Yoshiko Usami (AKA Yokko)
Costume Design by Deepsikha Chatterjee; Lighting Design by Rachel Zimmerman; Sound & Projection Design by Jorge Olivo and Alyssa L. Jackson; Installation Art by Pei-Ling Ho. Production Photography and Graphic Design by Krzy Sien; Production Videography by Mathew Kohn.
Rui Dun, Assistant Director and Bob Lyness, Associate Producer
The company features Miles Butler, Annie McCoy, Efrén Olson-Sánchez, Laura Aristovulos, and Yokko

Natasha Dawsen spoke with Yokko about the adventure that is her life in the arts. 

My background is as an Actor for a long time. I came to this country to be an international actor, 13 years ago. It has been quite a journey for me. As a foreign student, I needed to have some financial support, and applied one of the very competitive scholarship programs, and received a full scholarship. As the exchange, I served to the local communities, and shared Japanese culture and Performing Arts such as classical dance and martial arts. I formed a theatre group called Japanese Performing Arts company (JPAC), and gathered students, and taught them and held performances and workshops together. Through the activity, I received the International Understanding Award from the University of Oregon in 2008.

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“I think that is the beginning of my journey as a Japanese Performing Artist in the USA.”

After that year, I transferred to SUNY at Albany to prepare for a graduate program in Acting, and be accepted the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University MFA in Acting program in NYC in 2009. I wrote a one-woman show called BALDY which is an autobiographical play about my father, and relationship with me through my illness and our dreams. I performed and toured the show till early 2014. While I was touring this show, I encountered many audience members who were moved by the story. I  realized the impact of a universal theme to the society through live theatre. Meanwhile, I had to apply for an artist visa to stay and work as an artist.

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“And because I had to define who I am, where I am from, what  I have done, and what I do, for the visa appreciation,  I increased my self-awareness that I am a performing artist from Japan specialized in theater and dance.”

At that time, I was focusing on Japanese contemporary dance form, Butoh, and fascinating the craft, and creating the show with Butoh & Acting with my production team. We created the show, called Butoh Medea. It is a total fusion of theatre & dance (Acting and Butoh). This show has been received many awards, and has been touring nationally internationally since 2015. (Next show will be in Oct. 2019 in Czech) When we toured the show in Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015, again, I encountered audience members who were moved, inspired and moreover and somehow encouraged for their Arts. At the same time, I was asked why I had to tell this story to society and what was my mission status. And so, I had to think deeper meaning toward what I do. 

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“All those experiences made me think about why I do and what I do.”

My previous ensemble work, SHINKA was about a story of living beings. It was about destruction and creation. It was about an evolving culture and our minds. When I started creating the show, I wanted to connect the current society and its issues we are facing on. And so, I corporated with overuse of plastic bags. Plastic bags are made of oil, and many countries create a war for oil. This show received many awards and nominated several awards, and because of this show, I received a grant from Brooklyn Arts council for our new project, En. This new show is about environmental issues and relationships between not only humans but also other creatures. 

thespis-18-small-reso_orig.jpg“I think the current society (and its issues) and nature have been motivating my creativity.  I also do believe what we see in the world is the reflection of our minds, and so, I would love to explore ourselves along with the social issues.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

4840382_origMy mission as a performing artist is to make a bridge between not only humans but also non-humans such as all living beings and nature. And I have been organizing an ecology and arts festival past 4 years in NYC (Unfix NYC). I wanted to do something to the world we live in, which is actually not new to me. When I was a child, I wanted to be a diploma, doctor, or lawyer. (or sports players) But my passion went to more acting, and have been pursuing acting career. After I graduated MFA program, and touring my shows and meeting people/audiences, and teaching theatre, and training Butoh with teachers consistently, I was inspired by each experiences. Moreover, I went back Japan in 2017, and I worked with one of the master teachers in Butoh, Yoshito Ono (Son of Kazuo Ono), and one of the exercises he guided us gave me a huge impact. He showed us a photo of children who were smiling. “They were born in a refugee camp. they do not know the other world than the camp”. He said. He asked us “We are not a doctor, or solger or politiciaons. We are performer. what we can do for these children as a performer? ” We danced for those children as our audience in his studio. This experience shifted me in a good way. I felt the responsibility. And it reminded the letter I received from an audience at the Edinburgh- “Thank you for sharing what art can do.” I did not understand much that time I received the letter in 2015. But when I worked with Yoshito Ono-Sensei in 2017, I felt like a seed rooted in me. Even though I have passion toward this theme,  the subject comes to mind more subconsciously, and very randomly, and I did not plan or intend to create an environmental show in the first place. I am more like following what came to my mind. Sometime I create a piece based on a dream I had over night. I usually see image or sound, and I follow what comes next, and keep exploring those images, I discover the piece to be born. 

 

DIRECTIONS to the theatre. 

We are at the corner of Calyer St and Banker St.

G Train to the Greenpoint Ave Stop. Walk south on Manhattan Ave, toward Milton St. Take a right on Calyer St.

G Train to the Nassau Ave Stop. Walk north on Manhattan Ave toward Norman St. Take a left on Calyer St.

L Train to the Bedford Avenue Stop.  Walk west on North 7th St to Berry St. Take a right on Berry St. Take a left on Banker St.

Buses near us: B32, B62, B43

Accessibility: Triskelion Arts is committed to making our Muriel Schulman Mainstage Theater welcoming and accessible to all. If you have any seating questions, need an accommodation, or require any other special assistance with purchasing tickets, please contact us at 718.389.3473 or info@triskelionarts.org. Our Mainstage Theater is on the ground level and accessible to those who use wheelchairs. Accessible seats are available for each performance in our Mainstage Theater and an accessible restroom is located on street level.

 

 

 

 

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