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Conversations with Kenji Miyazawa

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Conversations with Kenji Miyazawa postcard image by Hacci & Teo Yamamoto

CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing) will present a short program of works by CRS Contact Improv instructor Kayoko Nakajima and other artists, introducing the beloved Japanese writer, artist, and philosopher Kenji Miyazawa to western audiences. The program will take place at CRS on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available online and at CRS.

This program is offered as an unofficial prelude for New York audiences to this summer's tenth TheaterX International Performing Art Festival 2012 in Tokyo, which this year is dedicated to works inspired by Kenji Miyazawa and will include the piece created by Nakajima and her collaborators.

The CRS program will consist of two parts:

In Part one, poet/artist Teo Yamamoto and musician/artist Hacci Morihata  will read/perform poems and stories by Miyazawa as well as several poems by Yamamoto, whose work at times strongly parallels Miyazawa's with regard to his love of animals and exploration of animism and the interconnectedness of all things. 

The second half of the program, "Ishikko Kensan" (Kenji's childhood nickname relating to his passion for rock collecting), is a international collaboration between Tokyo and New York City, utilizing modern technologies (Skype, email, youtube, and blogging to to allow the artists to work together at a distance). For the actual performance, Kakiuchi will travel from Tokyo to NYC to perform alongside Nakajima and Czach.  "Ishikko Kensan" reflects on Miyazawa's life and work through dance: Contact Improvisation by Kayoko Nakajima and Carly Czach and Popping by Yukari Kakiuchi. Contact Improvisation is chosen to communicate Kenji's strong interest in astronomy and philosophy of the universe. Popping expresses his brain activity as a person with synesthesia. Projection and music is by Naoya Ninomiya, set design and creation is by Shugo Tsuchida, directed by Masaru Munekata.

For more information about the performance in Japan, visit:
http://www.theaterx.jp/

or email:
kakiuchiyukari@gmail.com

Blog (with videos documenting the rehearsal/development process):
http://ishikkokensan.wordpress.com/

About Kenji Miyazawa

Kenji Miyazawa has transcended the generations to become one of Japan's most read and best loved authors. Born over a hundred years ago in 1896 in Iwate Prefecture, he was only 37 at the time of his death. Kenji's literary works were mostly published posthumously, after which the richness and depth of his art finally gained wide recognition. Born into the family of a well-to-do pawnbroker, he was greatly disturbed by the thought that his family's affluent lifestyle was supported by squeezing what little extra the poor in the area managed to put aside. This and his strong Buddhist faith drove Kenji to spend most of his brief life in a passionate struggle to improve the lot of the poor farmers there. In the midst of his endeavors Kenji also found time to avidly absorb the latest scientific, philosophic, and artistic developments that were emanating from Europe at the time (1910-1920) and to keenly observe and record many vivid impressions of the world around him.

Kenji's stories are set against the whole of the universe----a world replete with people, animals, plants, the wind, clouds, light, the stars and the sun. All hold discourse together. All are in empathy with one another. This free association between the elements and living things that make up our world is one of the distinguishing features that predominates Kenji's works. The interaction he portrays is never nonsensical, but always animated with an authenticity that rings true to the reader. Kenji felt that all living creatures are brothers and that happiness in the true sense is impossible for the individual to attain unless he seeks the happiness of all other living things as well. For Kenji, this was not just an idea: walking over the hills and fields, he would often lose himself entirely in the contemplation of animals, plants, rocks, the wind, clouds, rainbows, or the stars. He found joy in this empathy with the natural world he encountered, which is the source of the energy that imparts such a rich vitality to his work. Readers are able to perceive in Miyazawa Kenji's prolific works his views on the arrogance of modern man toward nature; the interconnection of man, animated nature, the earth, and the universe; and the pathway to a new cosmology.

— from http://www.kenji-world.net/english/who/who.html

There was a major disaster in Japan on March, 11 last year, an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant meltdown. This unfortunate event happened in the Tohoku region where Kenji worked tirelessly all his life to help people who suffered from drought. Kenji himself lived through a large earthquake and tsunami disaster in 1933. The whole world mourns and fears in the aftermath of last year's accident. Still, the nuclear leakage problem has not been solved. What would Kenji think if he were alive today? This has been in our thoughts as we create this piece. What we should do now for our future?

About the Artists

Poet, visual artist, Teo Yamamoto was born in Japan. Two of her Japanese books of poems were published: “running God” and “blue elf weed.” The latest trilingual chapbook called “CODE” is being issued in conjunction with her recent exhibition at CRS Gallery. Her new book of poems will be her first bilingual book and will come out in this summer, 2012. She lives in New York City.

http://teoyamamoto.com/

Hacci Morihata has been living in New York City since 1987. He has been playing a variety of instruments since he was a kid. He plays the very unique instrument called Spirit Catcher. It was made in Fukushima, Japan and sent to New York.   Kayoko Nakajima is a Japanese native New Yorker, cat lover, dancer, performing artist, composer, and musician. She is a certified Pilates instructor, a Laban Certified Movement Analyst, and holds a BA from the University of North Texas with a major in Dance and a minor in Music. She studied and performed jazz, modern, ballet, flamenco, tap, Japanese dance, and mime in Tokyo, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Connecticut. She has performed non-scored improvisational works since 2008. She received a residency at the Field and at Earthdance. Kayoko has studied and practiced improvisational dance and Contact Improvisation for over fifteen years. She teaches Contact Improvisation at CRS. She loves Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson, and Leonard da Vinci. She showed her video work "Black Dress Dance in Water" and her experimental improvisational performance with visual artists "ARt Seeds to ARt Sprouts Project" http://seedstosproutsproject.wordpress.com/ at the NYFA Bootstrap Festival on Feb. 2012. She is very excited about this collaborative work with Japanese performance artists, and perform in her current home, New York City, and old home, Tokyo.    Yukari Kakiuchi is a dancer and choreographer and is a founder and a director of the Benny Moss Dance Company in Tokyo. She has been producing her own monthly dance event "Tokyo Dance Tower" since 2006. She graduated from Chuo University and majored in Philosophy. She has been performing since 1991. She has been dancing since 2003 and has performed both nationally and internationally:  in China, Taiwan, Russia, Korea, and Egypt. Miss Kakiuchi won the Yamaguchi Sayoko Prize for her work "Benny Moss Futaritabi" in 2005. She started to learn street dance "Popping" last November. She is strongly interested in the revitalization of the Japanese city where major disaster hit last March. She launched the Benny Moss Art Revitalization Connection Project last year and toured in Shanghai with the artists who are survivors of Fukushima's nuclear disaster and will tour to China again this August. She is interested in cultural friendship between China and Japan. She is planning an art exchange project not only in China-Japan, but also another country. She is a Manga lover. 

http://www.kakiuchiyukari.com/

Masaru Munekata is the director of bug-depayse: Performing Art Group http://bug-depayse.org. He has produced the art event "NaиZö:zAяanYa" several time a year since 2006. His  "multilingual" concept is to gather artists from different disciplines and present them in this event to share, to discuss, to inspire one another. His events/ works include experimental and improvisational pieces and voluntary audience participation works. He grew up in the Tohoku region where Kenji Miyazawa lived most of his life. He incorporates paint, video images, and sculptures to create the unique space for the scene for his diverse productions: dance, theater, music, visual art, video, performance art.

A current resident of New York, NY, Carly Czach, is originally from Chicago where she completed a BFA in Dancemaking at Columbia College Chicago.  Over the lifespan of her dancing career, Carly has studied classical ballet, modern and post-modern dance forms. As a child she trained as a ballerina six days a week.  In recent years, somatic practices, improvisation as a performance form and Contact Improvisation have maintained her interests in personal and communal investigation. She has worked and studied with various artists in the field including Lisa Gonzales, Darrell Jones, Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser, and has been working with Kayoko Nakajima since 2011. Carly intends to travel nationally and abroad, further exploring improvisational forms, physics and cultural discourse. She is thrilled to make her first trip outside the United States to Japan.

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