Part of Nature

inkBoat's Dana Iova-Koga at Dance on Land in the Mattole Valley, California.

Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga…. came together through a mutual love for connecting the dancing body with nature. Dana graduated from NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing, and Shinichi was the son of a judo champion. Their careers and stars aligned, and in 2007 they began conducting workshops in the wild nature of Northern California and Vermont called Dance on Land. The workshops combine the physical disciplines Aikido kinesthetic response, Qi Gong mindfulness practice, improvisational dance, and physical theater to expand sensorial receptivity.

Last week, before Dana arrived in Utah to teach the second week of the festival, Shinichi said in an interview that although he does not consider himself an activist, since his work is not cause-related, democracy is an explicit part of the process and the performance.

“Some of my colleagues are overt activists, I am not,” he said. “I don’t make performance about a political situation or crisis. Instead, what I do is, in the process of making art is a statement, and it does reflect in the performers’ relationship to each other; everyone has voice — connection and communication.”

He said he believes respect for nature grows from being immersed in it, “so what we might learn about how grass blows in the wind teaches us something about who we are as human beings or dancers.”

Dance on Land workshops are a communal dancing, cooking, cleaning and socializing experience. The workshop emulates “the local/global relationship, any system, whether a system of streams or fields, we are fundamentally connected to the processes of everything in the world.”

Recognizing we are always in nature, even in an urban setting, Shinichi admits, “It’s simply that the urban manifestation is noisier, busier and harder for me to listen and concentrate in,” before adding with a bashful shrug, “and the fields and forests are great places for our children to run and play while we work.”

Article by Kathy Adams for the Salt Lake Tribune

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