The Yard, Chilmark’s internationally recognized dance residency and performance space, will kick off its summer season with a set of performances and installations by two award-winning Japanese-born artists.
Eiko and Koma established themselves as a choreography/dance/visual artist team in the 1970s. Their unique “theater of movement” performances have earned them critical acclaim, including two Bessie awards, a shared MacArthur “genius grant,” and double Guggenheim fellowships.
Recently, the pair have branched off to perform individually, each exploring different avenues. The Yard will bring in Eiko and Koma as solo artists for a series of site-specific performances from June 2 through June 6.
Other venues around the Island will also host work by Eiko. Her collaborative photography project will be featured at A Gallery in Oak Bluffs, and she will give a video presentation/lecture at the Oak Bluffs library on Wednesday, June 1.
Eiko’s set of Yard-sponsored performances will take place at two locations: one on the property of a private home in Edgartown, and one on Menemsha Beach. The artist integrates movement into a landscape to create a piece unique to each locale. She is known for her performances in public spaces such as train stations and libraries.
As a duo with Koma, Eiko has performed at Battery Park near Ground Zero, in the reflecting pool near Lincoln Center Plaza, and in the St. Mark’s Church graveyard in NYC. Eiko and Koma have also created two “living” gallery installations for the Whitney Museum of Art.
Eiko’s latest work — and her first solo project — is called “Bodies in Places.” So far, she has performed the ever-changing piece at locations around the U.S., in Hong Kong, and in Chile. According to the Yard website, “she goes to a place of her choice, studies the function and characteristics of the place, and performs there alone without theatrical lights, music, or other conventions of performance venues. At the core of each variant is Eiko alone, projecting and exploring solitude, gaze, fragility, and intimacy.”
Eiko visited the Island last year to scout out locations with members of the Yard, and decided on the two distinct locations. Of the private home, the Yard’s artistic director David White says, “It’s a wonderful jewel of a place. There are these beautiful meadows and gardens. It will be an intimate affair.”
Mr. White, who first produced Eiko and Koma in the 1970s in New York City, says Eiko “inserts herself quietly into a landscape, simply, without fanfare or theatrics.”
In 2014, Eiko visited Fukushima, site of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster, with photographer William Johnston. She posed for a series of photos called “A Body in Fukushima,” which will be featured at A Gallery until June 12, with a reception on June 5 from 5 to 7 pm.
Koma’s two performances will be held at the Yard. He will present his unique multidisciplinary solo project called “The Ghost Festival” on Thursday and Saturday of this week. The performances will take place between a mobile trailer on the grounds of the Yard and the barn theater.
“He has created an installation — the caravan — as a visual piece,” Mr. White says. “It’s a meditative space. There are two parts: one in and around the trailer and the other in the theater.”
According to the Yard website: “Using a mobile trailer, Koma is creating a gallery of works meant to be both an interactive visual art installment as well as a performance space. Koma envisions a meditative and communal space to honor the connection between past and present, and provide a home for lost spirits.”
During their residency at the Yard, Eiko and Koma have been sharing the space with the participants in the 2016 Bessie Schonberg Legacy Choreography Residency. On June 9 and June 11, three cutting-edge artists will present world premieres of work created during their three-week residencies. On Friday, June 10, the choreographers and guest dancers will also perform during a special event for Yard members and potential members. The evening will include a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, champagne, and dessert.
The rest of the Yard season will once again prove the range and level of talent that has given the Yard an outstanding international reputation in the dance world. The Yard season was recently featured at the top of the dance category in the New York Times’ annual listing of “50 Essential Summer Festivals.” According to the listing, “The Vineyard is having a dance renaissance thanks to David R. White, who has revitalized this island festival in his five years as artistic director.”
Some highlights this year will include the fourth annual Tap the Yard Festival, performances of new work by actress Amy Brenneman and collaborator Sabrina Peck, an acclaimed Brooklyn-based troupe whose work is inspired by dance traditions of the African diaspora, the return of Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, and a Roaring ’20s–themed party, featuring readings by four prominent fiction writers and poets followed by a dance performance.
All in all, the Yard season will feature 22 events, including family-friendly performances and dance parties — and, of course, some of the most exciting choreography and dance stars from all over the world.
For more information, visit dancetheyard.org.
Koma’s “The Ghost Festival”: The Yard, Chilmark. Thursday, June 2, at 8 pm and Saturday, June 4, at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 seniors, students, and military, $5 children under 12.
Eiko Otake’s “A Body in Edgartown”: 43 Pennywise Path, Edgartown. Friday, June 3, at 4 pm. Parking is limited; please call 508-645-9662 for directions and parking instructions. Free.
Eiko Otake’s “A Body in Menemsha”: Menemsha Beach, Chilmark. Monday, June 6, at 6 pm. Free.
Art Exhibit: “A Body in Fukushima”: A Gallery, Oak Bluffs, through June 12. Artist’s reception: Sunday, June 5, 5 to 7 pm.