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Published on Mar 16, 2012
Performance artists Eiko & Koma reflect on their 40-year body of work with iconic performance pieces, new work and collaborations, including Kronos Quartet. With the Retrospective Project, Eiko & Koma seek not to summarize the past, but to find artistic ways forward in the eternal present.
About Eiko & Koma: Eiko (female) and Koma (male) were law and political science students in Japan when, in 1971, they each joined the Tatsumi Hijikata company in Tokyo. Their collaboration began as an experiment and then developed into an exclusive partnership. The following year, they started to work as independent artists in Tokyo and at the same time began to study with Kazuo Ohno, who along with Hijikata was the central figure in the Japanese avant-garde theatrical movement of the 1960s. Neither Eiko nor Koma studied traditional Japanese dance or theater forms, and have preferred to choreograph and perform only their own works.
Their interest in Neue Tanz, the German modern dance movement that flourished alongside the Bauhaus movement in art and architecture, and their desire to explore non-verbal theater took them to Hanover, Germany in 1972. There they studied with Manja Chmiel, a disciple of Mary Wigman. In 1973, they moved to Amsterdam, and for the next two years toured extensively in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Tunisia. It was the late Lucas Hoving, a wonderful dancer who had toured with the early José Limón Dance Company, who encouraged them to go to America.
The Japan Society sponsored the first American performance of Eiko & Koma's White Dance in May of 1976. Since then, they have presented their works at theaters, universities, museums, galleries and festivals across North America, Europe and Japan.
Eiko & Koma's noted stage collaborations include Hunger (2008, with Cambodian painters-turned-performers Peace and Charian), Mourning (2007, with pianist Margaret Leng Tan), Cambodian Stories (2006, with the Reyum Painting Collective of young Cambodian artists), Be With (2001, with Anna Halprin and Joan Jeanrenaud), When Nights Were Dark (2000, with Joseph Jennings and a Praise Choir), the proscenium version of River (1997, with Kronos Quartet, who performed Somei Satoh's commissioned score live), and Land (1991, with Robert Mirabal).