Kidan, Kwaidan "Snow Woman" Scene1
Japanese female performing artists, Yuko Fujiyama, Miki Orihara and Aine Nakamura, who have lived in New York City for decades present, in contemporary performance, Japanese old folk horror tales, among which were made into English literature by Lafcadio Hearn in his book “Kwaidan” in 1904.
This project will focus on three stories from the book: “Yuki-Onna - Snow Woman,” “Oshidori” and “Kurokami”. Each story has a female character as a crucial figure. In the series of these three stories, the audience will be introduced to the patterns of female stereotypes in the old Japanese value system.
The stories will be created into cross-disciplinary artworks from the perspectives of three female artists of different generations living today. The artists, a renowned veteran piano improviser Yuko, a dancer Miki who is the recipient of Bessie Award winner, and an American born emerging voice artist Aine have similar struggles against offensive social pressure towards women in Japan. Now all have lived in the U.S. for a long time.
They made themselves free from those forces and cramped discrimination against women in Japan by keeping the physical distance. At the same time, these three women have had to face the challenge to establish their original values of identity as female and international beings. The artists in this project share this struggle coming from the search for identity as international or transnational beings and as beings not to be valued in the strict Japanese gender roles but as artists.
The author of “Kwaidan” Lafcadio Hearn was born in Europe then moved to the U.S. and became a naturalized Japanese citizen later in his life. We will use Isamu Noguchi’s work “Akari light sculpture” as an iconic symbol to recreate the ambiance which was described in the original literature, and it plays a significant role in the stage set. Noguchi is a Japanese American artist who also struggled in his two different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
By using piano, dance, words, body movement, and voice and by showing the complexity through the interdisciplinary approach, this project will not only be portraying examples of prejudice and conflict in the current and the old Japanese society but also expressing the new struggle and challenge as Asian women with multiple and sometimes contradicting cultural backgrounds.
Japan and the U.S., these countries have each own social expectation and stereotypes towards women. Yuko, Miki and Aine have been living in two different societies. And these three women will project their experiences, emotions, conflicted feelings, and values deeply through the characters to pose the issue of sexism.
This project will be realized, combining the performance of music, compositions, dance, improvisation, sound art, storytelling, two languages of Japanese and English, and media. An abstract dance will be supported by storytelling, using the nuanced voice. The sounds of a piano will bring colors to spatial experiments of body and voice. Media will bring a drama to the stories.
<Kidan, Kwaidan and the author>
Kidan 奇談 and Kwaidan 怪談 is a collection of stories by Lafcadio Hearn that features several Japanese horror stories originally orally told by people in Japan. The titles are written as strange-storytelling, and suspicious- storytelling in Chinese characters, respectively.
Ms. Yuko Fujiyama is a pianist-composer. Born in Sapporo, Japan in 1954. A summer morning in 1980, she opened a door for her to the abstract beauty of music. The piano sounds of Cecil Taylor coming from the apartment of Jerome Cooper, Taylor's drummer, in East Village transfixed Yuko. She has been looking for musical structures ever since and trying to be free from a feeling of linear time.
Ms. Miki Orihara is a Dancer. Miki is an internationally acclaimed soloist and is best known for her work as a principal dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company, which she joined in 1987. She received a New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award in 2010 for her contributions to dance.
Ms. Aine Nakamura, who was born from Japanese parents and spent her first childhood in Northwest U.S., is a singer, composer, and voice performer whose works focus on orality. Her appearances include NYCEMF, October New Music Festival in Finland, and Creative Climate Awards.
The goal of this performance is to present and understand the struggle of women in the old society, and the conflict and difficulties of gaining true independence regardless of the social stereotyping, and to realize new values as international or translational beings through a contemporary performing art form.
A group of mature-aged Asian women is an absolute minority of the entertainment industry in the U.S. We would like to create a stir in the American performing art world.
Get in touch for additional information about our upcoming event.
New York, NY, USA