Aosora Dance

YDC2020 Namstrops『THE INCH-HIGH SAMURAI』 Photo:Sugawara Kota

“Aozora Dance” is an annual signature program of the Yokohama Dance Collection featuring a wide variety of performances held outside in the square of the bustling Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, a popular Kanagawa/Yokohama tourist attraction.
In this year’s Aozora Dance, five dance artists based in various parts of the country will perform online. Miyazaki-based dance company <namstrops>, who has graced Aozora Dance many times with various crowd pleasing performances, has become the flag-bearer for this year, in a time where travel has become quite difficult. This time around, we will connect viewers through dance and bring the charm of each region to the masses, you guessed it, through dance.
Distribution will start on December 3, 2021 on the YOUTUBE channel “Yokohama Dance Collection”.

Aozora Dance Miyazaki – Hyogo – Ishikawa – Chiba – France

  • Program Coordinator:namstrops + Rumiko Takahashi
  • Artists:namstrops (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture), Ito Kaori /Kyogoku Tomohiko (Kamikawa Town, Hyogo Prefecture), Osanai Yumi (Vallon-pont-d’Arc, France), Kawamura Mikiko (Minamiboso City and Konan Town, Chiba Prefecture), Houei Miki (Nomi City, Ishikawa Prefecture)

<A Message from NAMSTROPS>

It has been 13 years since Yokohama Dance Collection 2008, when we decided to choose Miyazaki as our base for creative activities. During that time, we would be lying if we said that our resolve never wavered. In fact, every year in March when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, someone poses the question, “it doesn’t need to be Miyazaki anymore, does it?” Then, when someone else mentions one or two merits of doing creative work in local regions, that number grows and right about when it hits seven, we conclude that “Yes, NAMSTROPS belongs to Miyazaki, NAMSTROPS needs Miyazaki, NAMSTROPS is Miyazaki!” Then we all look up at the vast sky above. This has been a repetitive process, even after the opening of “CandY Children’s Theater” in March 2019.
We’re sure that Ito-san, Kyogoku-san, Hoei-san, Kawamura-san, and Nagauchi-san (even though we are not in the same country), who chose to make this region a base for creative activities, are looking up at the sky as well, with many thoughts and worries in their heads and smiles on their faces.


Photo:ryoichi kojima

Namstrops was formed in 2006. It is a dance company that is particular about having things upside down. It develops practical research in “creating new value by thinking about things upside down”. That’s actually why the name of the company is “sportsman” read backwards. So far, the company has performed not only in Asian countries and cities, but in the United States, Estonia, Romania, Germany, Croatia, etc. (40 cities throughout 15 countries). Domestically, the company is developing unique experimental performance activities, such as exhibiting “physical education” (the idea of nurturing the body) at contemporary art museums around the country such as the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. NAMSTROPS received the “KIDS DESIGN AWARD” for the fifth consecutive year in recognition of the reproducibility of activities aimed at realizing a “world where no one is left behind” (in relation to SDGs) through these arts. In addition, in March 2019, with the aim of exploring the possibility of a non-publicly run contemporary dance theater for the public, it established a gymnasium for nursery school children that is open during the day and a theater where contemporary dance is performed on weekends and nights, all in the same space. The facility is called “Transparent Gymnasium Kirakira / International Children / Seinen Theater Miyazaki” (CandY Theater) in Miyazaki City, a unique double functioning center.

Ito Kaori

How exactly can the body and the mind protrude out of an unwavering framework through repetition of movement?She continues to create with great interest in how these two things bring out the emotions and stories from the dancers and audiences.Her major performances include “Shikaku-kei no Yuutsu (Square Depression)” (YDC2016 Competition I),” “RunsMoon” (2017), “Mitsu no Mado (Three Windows)” (2020), and “Waku” (YDC2021 Master class for Choreographer <Work in Progress>), etc..Since the company’s move from Tokyo to Kamikawa-cho, Hyogo Prefecture, her interest has shifted from performances to creating a place centered on “dialogue with dancers”.

Kyogoku Tomohiko

Head of Kyogoku Tomohiko Dance Kikaku. After graduating from Kyoto University of Art and Design, he danced in various choreographer’s works both domestically and overseas.
In 2015, he trained in Vienna as a trainee through the Agency for Cultural Affairs Overseas Dispatch of Emerging Artists program.His solo piece “Kairo”, which he choreographed and performed himself, has been performed in 11 cities across five countries since its premiere in 2010. He has been a part of many international co-productions.Since 2014, he has continued to work at a childhood intervention studio for children with developmental disabilities.Since 2017, he has moved to a depopulated area of Hyogo Prefecture, and works as a part-time lecturer at a local kindergarten and high school while developing creative activities that connect local areas with art, and values across generations.In 2019, he launched “Kyogoku WORKS” with dancer and choreographer Kyogoku (Ito) Kaori , and continues to help both young and old maintain physical and mental health by making use of his dance experience. Developmental support educator, Ancient Thai Yoga Rusie Dotton (Hermit Twist) Instructor.

Osanai Yumi

Photo:Virginie Moly

In 2010, she won the French Embassy Award and the MASDANZA-EU Award at Yokohama Dance Collection R. She was a resident dancer at the National Choreography Center in Paris and Angers, France, where she created and presented her own work.
In 2012, under the Agency for Cultural Affairs Emerging Artist program, she trained in Budapest, Hungary, for one year under Felenc Fehér, and toured in Hungary.
In 2015, she was a trainee at the POLA Art Foundation and at the Belgian dance company Fieldworks. She produced and presented “Hidden Sense”, a participative work that blurred the boundaries between audiences and performers.
For the next six years she was based in Brussels while working as a dancer. After having a child in 2019 and feeling the need to live close to nature, she moved to Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France in October 2021.
“I would like to continue physical expression while being stimulated by artists across genres and nationalities. I hope to stay connected with everyone up until now, and connect with new people, which is why I always ask myself, “What is it, that can change my senses and the senses of others?”

Kawamura Mikiko

Photo:Etsuko Suzuki

Born in 1990, Tokyo. She began dancing at the age of 16 and has been performing both domestically and abroad since 2011. Once described as a dance enfant terrible who fell to Earth from a faraway planet (Dance New Air 2014/ Ishii Tatsuro), Kawamura works range from theaters to outdoor concert events, video and music composition, and handmade crafts and accessories. Kawamura graduated from Japan Women’s College of Physical Education, Majoring in Dance Studies. From 2013 to 2016, she was a Junior Fellow of the Saison Foundation. After the premiere of her piece “Inner Mommy” received the The Next Generation of Choreographer’s Award and Audience Award at the Toyota Choreography Award 2014, and then the “Jury Prize” and “French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers” at Yokohama Dance Collection EX 2015, she went to France and became a resident dancer in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille and Le Havre for half a year based at French National Dance Center CCN/R, where she presented “LA FLEUR ÉCLÔT ENFER ENFER (A Flower Blooms in Hell)”. Moved to Minamiboso on the tip of Chiba peninsula in 2019.

Houei Miki

Photo:Matsumoto Kazuyuki

Dancer/ Choreographer / Nomi City Tourism Ambassador
Born in Nomi City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Started studying modern ballet at Shimizu Dance Studio from the age of two. Graduated from Japan Women’s University of Physical Education, majoring in dance studies. As a student she has performed as a dancer in works by various choreographers while gaining experience in performances outside the university including tours abroad. Hoei began producing dance pieces in 2007, and started working as a choreographer after receiving an award at Yokohama Dance Competition in 2008. While studying at the Laban Center, she participated in various projects in the UK, Germany, Belgium, etc., and performed in contemporary dance, physical theatre and performing arts. As of 2010, she has been based in Tokyo as a dancer and choreographer. He has participated in many festivals at regional cities throughout Japan, and has been actively participating in disaster-stricken reconstruction support projects since the Great Eastern Earthquake. After her experience in the 2014 Agency for Cultural Affairs overseas training (Portugal), she started a dance festival in her hometown of Ishikawa and has been holding it continuously since 2015. She moved to Ishikawa for good in 2016, where she became a lecturer, and actively participated in projects outside the prefecture and overseas as a dancer. In addition, she works locally as a choreographer for performances involving citizens and productions involving people with disabilities. “KageMai” a collaborative piece with artists from Nomi City, was invited to Taiwan. In recent years her activities span across various fields including choreographing and appearing in commercial videos for the Takashimaya department store in Nagoya, and choreographing commercials for Aozora Pharmacy.
In 2008, she competed at the Dance Collection, receiving the Jury Prize and the MASDANZA Award, and participated in competition I in 2019.