an inkBoat and AXIS Dance Company production
“ODD,” inspired by the Norwegian figurative painter, Odd Nerdrum, united Shinichi Iova-Koga‘s inkBoat collaborative with Oakland’s Axis Dance Company, which integrates able and disabled performers. In the past, the troupe has commissioned pieces from dance world heavy hitters like Bill T. Jones and Joe Goode, but rarely has it been tested as in this unbroken, 75-minute opus. And rarely has it emerged with such stunning results. (see full SF Chronicle review by Allan Ulrich)
Interview with Director Shinichi Iova-Koga and Composer Joan Jeanrenaud.
September 16, 2010
Shinichi how and why did you think of Odd Nerdrum’s paintings when you thought about this collaboration?
SIK: As we have examined Odd Nerdrum’s works, I have been struck by the relationship of landscape and body. It seems that our species imagines itself above nature because we can go into outer space or divert water across large distances. But these are technologies and technologies are simply an extension of ourselves and we are an extension of nature. I am also guilty of thinking of myself as higher than ants. As we’ve been working, I’ve been considering our animal-ness and our mountain-ness and our cloud-ness. I’ve been considering the space between and within bodies.
Joan, have Nerdrums paintings been influential to you in composing the music?
JJ: Nerdrum’s paintings have become the essence for creating the music in, ‘ODD’. In working with Shinichi his constant referral to the paintings has imbued their spirit into the dance and music, leading me to discovering sounds, feelings, gestures or motives that resonate with the images. As well, I am influenced by Shinichi and his aesthetics along with the work of the AXIS and inkBoat dancers and musician Dohee Lee, who is contributing her vocal, electronic and percussion skills to the score. I hope to create a sonic environment that the dancers will occupy and find inspirational. I want to create an overall sense of the strangeness, beauty and stillness that I sense from the paintings and Shinichi’s choreography.
Joan and Shinichi, what are some of your discoveries during the creation process?
SIK: Early in our working process, I felt that paintings are paintings and dance is dance. We can be inspired by the paintings, but we cannot dance them. But, because the paintings themselves are still, we’ve been incorporating fragments of stillness more consciously into the choreography. And this is almost a traditional Japanese dance/theater idea. Noh and Kabuki in particular utilize many still moments as emphasis. The forms are precisely sculpted and freezes are employed constantly. I feel that the “avant-garde” ideas always come back to tradition somehow.
Working with Joan has been a complete joy. As part of our process, Joan has created music for the paintings without seeing the dance, or created music for dance without seeing paintings. Each time, she manages to come up with something distinct and imbued with it’s own character. And we let all these characters meet… the painting, the music and the dancers meet to create something that is a birth, a child that comes from all these sources and stands as it’s own.
JJ: Shinichi has led me to continually discover the significance of silence or of a small gesture in music the complexity of a single sound, sustained or brief. He has opened my ears by opening my eyes!
Conception, Direction and Choreography
Choreography and Performance
Sonsheree Giles, Alice Sheppard, Rodney Bell, Janet Das, Sebastian Grubb
Yuko Kaseki, Dana Iova-Koga, Peiling Kao and Sherwood Chen
Music Composition and Performance
Joan Jeanrenaud & Dohee Lee
Photo: Pak Han