New York Live Arts will present the world premiere of Yasuko Yokoshi's BELL on March 16, 2013 at 7:30pmin its Bessie Schönberg Theater. Hailed by Time Out New York as having "a brave, postmodern intellect," Yokoshi was appointed as the inaugural Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA) of New York Live Arts in July 2011. The RCA program identifies and supports outstanding mid-career artists and is one of the most generous and supportive awards offered to a choreographer in the United States, providing two years of residency time and a commission of a new work, as well as salary and benefits.
As part of her residency over the past 18 months, Yokoshi has assembled a multidisciplinary cast from Japan and the U.S. to perform inBELL, a contemporary reimagining of the classical Japanese dance Kyoganoko Musume-Dojyoji (A Woman and a Bell at the Dojoji Temple), reputed to be the most important and difficult work in the Kabuki dance repertoire. With BELL, Yokoshi also draws from the classical ballet canon, aligningDojyoji with the widely popular ballet Giselle. Finding the iconographic plot on romance and tragedy that is a central theme in both of these works, she radically juxtaposes the two in an attempt to re-contextualize our experience through the resultant collision and harmony.
BELL continues Yokoshi's collaboration with Masumi Seyama, 82-year old master teacher of Kabuki Su-odori style dance and successor of renowned choreographer Kanjyuro Fujima VI. Through this collaboration, Yokoshi investigates the parallel aesthetics of traditional dance and contemporary forms and the transgression of cultural boundaries.
Yokoshi's bold cultural investigations of Kabuki movement were presented in the Bessie Schönberg Theater by Dance Theater Workshop in March 2010 when she premiered Tyler Tyler. In an interview about the work with the New York Times, Yokoshi explained that by fusing modern dance and traditional Japanese dance, "...I'm placing two high-quality things with different value systems side by side. One doesn't take over the other...This is conceptual on a large scale...It's very simple in a very orthodox way. What I'm really looking for is beauty."
Born in Hiroshima, Yokoshi has lived in New York since 1987 but travels regularly to Japan to study and train with Seyama. Joining Yokoshi in BELL is a multi-cultural cast including Kabuki actor/dancer Kuniya Sawamura, vocalists Gelsey Bell and Sanshichiro Kineya, dancersKayo Seyama (Masumi Seyama's eldest disciple), Julie Alexander, Lindsay Clark and Jennifer Lafferty, drummer Tadayuki Mochizuki and shamisen player Yoko Reikano Kimura, among others. The creative team includes sound designer Soichiro Migita, lighting designer RodeRick Murray and costume and set designer Akiko Iwasaki.
"Yasuko Yokoshi has a supremely well-honed artistic voice, and we are extremely pleased to have her as the inaugural Resident Commissioned Artist," commented Carla Peterson, Artistic Director of New York Live Arts. "Having had a relationship with Dance Theater Workshop beginning with her debut as a Fresh Tracks artist in 1998, we have witnessed first-hand her development into a masterful choreographer whose radical works live with unusual sensitivity and beauty in the complex in-between of disparate cultures. We're excited that BELL, with its further study of Kabuki Su-odori and its cultural and artistic implications, will bear the fruits of this extraordinary artistic journey."
Subsequent performances of BELL will also take place from March 19 - 23, 2013 at 7:30pm in New York Live Arts' Bessie Schönberg Theater. Prior to the performances, Yokoshi will also lead a Shared Practice Workshop in the third floor studio at New York Live Arts on February 23 from 1:30-3:30pm.
Come Early Conversations and Stay Late Discussions will also be featured with two shows. Tickets are $30 and $15 and may be purchased online at tickets.newyorklivearts.org, by phone at 212-924-0077 and in person at the box office. Box office hours are Monday to Friday from 1 to 9pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 8pm.