Interview with Shinichi Iova-Koga about “Ame to Ame”

By March 26, 2005 DIARY, INTERVIEWS No Comments

If I go into nature, that is inspiring to me, it elevates me and gives me the strength to continue with the life struggle, but I do not put the woods on the stage. The woods make better woods than I can. No competition there.


The meaning of “Ame to Ame” is “Candy and Rain.” The title came first, like brainstorming on the seed that will create the work. The seed came first.
It’s a play on words, in that the same sound (in the Japanese language), depending on the Kanji, will have a different meaning. So, the title is connected with desire and pain, two of our great engines for moving in this life.
But what is candy and what is rain?
If you take the rain as tears and the candy as the thing of desire, then a small circle is created. We want, can’t have, then we cry.
While we cry, we cement our desire for the thing and then the spiral goes on and on down to some lower depth we don’t even want to talk about.
But there’s always singing in the rain.
I read things in my own way, but I expect that the audience, coming with filters different from mine, will see it differently.

Butoh is hard to explain. But the Japanese cultural references, the line between the grotesque and the beautiful — these are certainly part of my vocabulary.
I take what is necessary for the moment. Well, sometimes I fall on habit. But I try to keep the form alive by constantly re-working it.
Some people or companies are “classics” in the Butoh world. They have found their way and they keep working it.
Me, I keep getting lost and getting interested in cobblestones (or substitute any small detail which might come across the way of walking).
That’s just how I am. For good or ill, I keep my hands in many pies.

Most unexpected is how I am going to talk about a work when you put me on the spot. Maybe I’ll talk about how the breakfast I ate changed the dance that day, or maybe about a passage from a book I read that keeps resurfacing in my mind. Or process. In the work itself, the surprise is going to really depend on each person.
Completing a work can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 years, depending on numerous conditions.
On average, a work that will show in the theatre will take between two to three months to be realized. I’ve created entire shows within a few days, but these are usually some kind of experiment.
If I stare at the ceiling long enough, something is bound to creep into my brain.

The most [powerful] thing anyone ever has said to me was: “I love you.”
Many small flashes went across my brain, small revelations others have shared with me, but none of them can hit me like that most overused phrase, spoken by the right person at the right time.

Some of the themes that occur over and over in my work: Going back to childhood dreams, life emerging from death, looking for love, and strange crawling insects.

This is my constant. I’ve been working with different disciplines since the first day of thinking “I am an artist.” They all feed me incredibly well and I’m growing fatter and fatter from the experience.

The most important thing a creative person needs, apart from funding or daily necessities: A life. If a “creative” only has some techniques, then it’s totally boring.
What life experience has come to someone, and how is that digested and coming out again?

The hardest was the solo, “Tasting an Ocean.” Just being by myself, making a solo, was more difficult than assembling a dozen people for a show. I had no mirror. It was totally disturbing. The only things that ever come easy are improvisations.

On what’s more most important: technical proficiency or emotional resonance: Emotional resonance. The rest is just architecture.
On whether dance/body movement is a language:
Ever been punched? Ever been kissed? More direct than words, I’d say.

Both. A more finely-tuned dancer or choreographer is created through discipline.

Something that genuinely puzzles me: Good question. Yes, plenty, but I can’t come to one single thing at the moment. I mean, life puzzles me.
Nothing frustrates me like myself. The world could be hell outside, but in the end, how do I deal with it? When I come short of my own self-expectation, then bingo: frustration.
On whether writer’s block exists: Absolutely. Go back to “frustration.”

In music, I’m most influenced these days by traditional musicians — really old style shamisen or shakuhachi or tabla or and or and or…
And then there are people I work with, like “Sleepytime Gorilla Museum” or “Faun Fables” or Sheila or Carla or Nils doing independent stuff. And I’ve never disliked a Tom Waits record.
Recently I’ve been reading things like Anne Carson or Murakami or Gurjieff. But there’s so much good stuff out there, it’s hard to say who’s my favorite.
I saw the film “The Cost of Living” by DV8 recently. I was totally jealous. It was great.

The most interesting stranger I’ve ever met: Mase Shooichi. I met then spent some days with him in Kyoto, forming what seemed like a strong friendship.
Then one day he cut all ties and disappeared. Now a stranger again. Hopefully to meet again. He inspired me to make “Black Map” (to be performed in SF in May; a 30-minute version, anyway).

Reads: Just finished “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Murakami and just opened “A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters” by Julian Barnes.
Discs: Right this second, I’m listening to the song “Viel Glück Im Privatleben!” by Zak May and Shiva. Russians living in Berlin.
Downtime: Photography. Playing shakuhachi (badly).
On the biggest myth about being a creative: The biggest myth is “How wonderful it is that you get to express yourself!”
If I wasn’t a dancer/choreographer, I would definitely be: “Farmer” is next on my list. Been a photographer, cook, multimedia producer (or slave may be a better term) and coffee maker.
What I wish someone had told me when I first started out: Get real.
Favorite quote: “Am I shoveling sand to live, or living to shovel sand?” by Kobo Abe. So, what’s the point of our struggles, anyway?
Interesting fact that nobody knows about me yet: Interesting? What would someone be interested in, exactly? The more hidden, the more interesting. Best is whatever I’ve kept hidden from myself. Hmmm, have to get back to you on that…
Life is:
Life is life is life is life is life.

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