Interview with Shinichi Iova-Koga about “Ame to Ame” by Erin Blackwell

By June 16, 2004 DIARY, FEATURED No Comments

Erin Blackwell: Describe your collaboration. what makes this theater? what makes this dance?

Shinichi Momo Iova-Koga: The three of us (Ates, Kaseki, Koga) have created this work, which is mainly a dance. The theater is the background behind the dance. We dance because of conditions. The conditions could be two people drinking or keeping rhythm with each other. The tension between is theatre. In every movement, there should be a reason, a condition, a life. Sometimes part of the dance is just something we thought was “cool” or “funny.” Like a conversation between two people, the topic can become heavy and serious and unexpectedly, there is something we laugh at.

Ame to Ame, inkBoat, CoKaseki

EB: What is the influence of suzuki on your work? And what makes your work butoh? anti-butoh? (it’s not as boring)

SK: “Butoh” is a name we give our form, but in the end, we are showing a life (maybe fractured and broken, but a life). Before becoming involved in Butoh, I was studying Tadashi Suzuki method of training. This training emphasizes the presence of an actor on stage and creates strong, clear forms and moves to a very steady and repeating rhythm. It’s also a form I’m trying to break out of. Tadashi Suzuki training is very grounded, very firm, very stable. I am now seeking in Butoh the limits of instability and the power that resides in being on the edge of balance. In this way, Yuko and Marc are more advanced than I. They have inherited a method from Anzu that emphasizes extreme precision within a seemingly chaotic form. So I learn from them. There are many practices and aesthetics in Butoh dance. Much of what the public sees looks like suffering or anguish. So, we’re human beings. We suffer. We also dance. We laugh uncontrollably when we can let our hearts open. My main teacher, Hiroko Tamano, knows how to laugh. She has a beautiful laugh and dances every moment I see her.

EB: Is there a way you hope the audience will feel after? during?

SK: The audience will feel what they feel. I like to walk away from a performance happy. Happy to see honesty. Humor lies in honesty, which is surrounded by darkness. If our audience comes away with humor, it would please me. Not necessary a “ha ha ha” humor, but a perspective that lets them play with dark matter without getting morose.

EB: Is this world premiere of work? Where else will it be shown?

SK: Ame to Ame has it’s world premiere in Berlin on July 8. When we bring this work to Yerba Buena, it will be the USA premiere, fresh off the boat. We’re hoping to tour this piece throughout the USA and Europe in a year from now. Knocking on doors.

EB: What is the intersection of traditional forms and experiment in your work?

SK: Butoh already has the intersection of tradition and experiment. But of course, tradition becomes established very quickly and very quickly we can say “old style Butoh.” So how far can we break and experiment? I find “tradition” in the way Hiroko Tamano taught me, and sometimes I walk away from this and try to find my own way. Then I remember the beauty of things I’ve thrown away and go back to them. Like I said, I’m on the move. I’ve mastered nothing and cannot rest. My life on stage is closely linked to me in the world. My falseness or my honesty will show through in either case. I work to eliminate my falseness. That is more important than form. Nevertheless, I must use form as my discipline, the fuel for my fire. Maybe I burn the wrong thing. Mistakes happen.

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