This year marks the 26th edition of Yokohama Dance Collection. Launched as a choreography competition in 1996, Yokohama Dance Collection provides an international platform for dance in Japan. To date, it has featured over 600 finalists who confront society and the other, the body and artistic expression, and who have gone on to expand their multifarious artistic pursuits in dance communities across Japan and abroad. Yokohama Dance Collection also serves as a venue for choreographers, dancers, and others in the performing arts to challenge themselves to new possibilities of artistic expression, and as a place for artistic dialogue and exchange. Choreography involves exploring the connections between our bodies and society as a means to reconsider humanity. In a time where our circumstances are ever-changing, solidarity between artists – as well as ties with dance communities local and abroad – will become increasingly important.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led people to reflect on their homes, the ecosystem, and the world, as well as resulted in the collapse of a multitude of structures that once seemed unwavering. This time has been an opportunity for us to think about the meaning of choreographic practice, and about what we must do to realize our hopes for the future of art. The creations which will be featured in this edition of YDC propose ways of moving between the past and future, local and international, private and public, here and there, providing significant fodder for the imagination and creativity. A series of creative processes leads to a dance piece’s first performance, then it is sent off into the world. How do these works continue to develop and resonate with diverse international audiences across each performance? Elements of consciousness, play, and fantasy that exist as part of its creation and along its trajectory may hold the answers to this question.
Since its 2010 premiere, “Out of Context – For Pina” by Alain Platel (a world-renowned choreographer in the truest sense), has been performed over 160 times across 70 cities worldwide, and continues to evolve with Platel and its original cast. Contorted bodies and uncanny movements reveal the state of the subconscious and its irrational impulses. The work gives rise to a primitive form of empathy, reaching deep into the emotions of spectators sharing the same space and time. Kim Jae Duk has been incredibly active not only in South Korea but also other parts of Asia, as well as South and Central America. His featured piece, “Darkness Poomba,” is a reinterpretation of a traditional Korean beggar’s song, which has been performed over 50 times in 30 cities worldwide since it premiered in 2008. The work illustrates a new form of fantasy through its dynamic movements and multivalence – it traverses various dichotomies such as the traditional and the contemporary, as well as the marginalized and the majority. New work by Hashimoto Roma, winner of the previous Competition Ⅱ Outstanding New Artist Prize, will be presented in tha Dance Connection Program. Shimomura Yu, the 2019 Competition ⅠJury Prizw winner, will be presenting new work developed from the concept of his award-winning piece. For Dance Cross, a collaborative program with Ambassade de France au Japon / Institut français du Japon, we will be sharing the concept of a future work by Okamoto Yu, who won the French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers in 2019, but whose residency in France was postponed due to the spread of the pandemic. The program will also highlight a French choreographer from the new generation, selected by Aymar Crosnier, with an interview and excerpts of his work. Another feature will be Umeda Hiroaki, who won a ticket to perform at Bagnolet at the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis Yokohama Platform (the former Bagnolet International Choreography Award) and quickly made waves in the international dance community with his European premiere in 2002. Umeda’s representative work will be returning to Yokohama for the first time in twenty years. As a new program for this year, we will also be holding a composition course focused on recreating choreography with Kitamura Akiko as facilitator, and the aforementioned Alain Platel and Kim Jae Duk as mentors. Nine choreographers, all past winners of Competition I and II, will be participating in the program.
During the spring and summer of 2020, the majority of performing arts programs and festivals were canceled or postponed in Japan. Even now, as of October, we are still restricted from freely traveling across national borders due to COVID-19 prevention measures, making in-person international artistic/cultural exchanges impossible. For this edition of YDC, there are still possibilities that live shows will be canceled, large groups will not be able to share the same space and time, and we will need to devise different solutions or emergency responses toward issues that may arise. Even if holding live performances proves unattainable, we are set on figuring out a way to continue to uphold the concept of Yokohama Dance Collection 2021 and preserve the significance of this festival.
“Out of Context - For Pina” has not only managed to maintain its vibrancy a decade since its premiere but has succeeded in becoming even more alluring, enthralling fans across the globe. Behind this feat is Platel’s motto, “This dance is for the world and the world is for everyone.” The work, a portrayal of the struggle between sadness and joy, is dedicated to the late Pina Bausch, the venerated choreographer whom Platel deeply loved and respected. Nothing is born from a chain reaction of schisms. What has the power to change the world is the richness of creativity and emotion, and connections forged through sympathy. While information and communication technology has spawned new ideas and possibilities, my hope is that through this edition’s program, which embodies the interplay between consciousness, play, and fantasy - qualities robots or AI still lack – our audience members will be able to discover their own keys to opening up a future for art. In the words of Pina: “Tanzt, tanzt, sonst sind wir verloren” (dance, dance otherwise we are lost). These words continue to resonate not only with choreographers, dancers, and audiences, but with all people living in the present.
13 November, 2020
Ono Shinji （Director/ Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No.1）