For Teachers and Students

For Teachers and Students

Questions for Eiko from the Charleston County School of the Arts, SC:

1. When did you know that you were meant to dance?

I ended up seeking art as an outlet when I, as a college student of a political science major active in the student political movements in 1960s Japan, became exhausted with political rhetoric, tactics, and violence. I naively thought that being a dancer is the most un-capitalistic way of living.  Having teamed up with Koma, I thought two people could make a simple activists unity.

2. Who inspired you to begin dancing?

I had studied dance as an experiment to become a thinker with a body because I was too much a bookworm until then. Studying with and seeing the dance of Kazuo Ohno over the years gave me the inspiration that dance can be a radical and powerful art form. He was a genius, totally out of the ordinary.

3. How did you transition into the professional world?

From day one we did our own work and started to perform. We also made money by dancing in cabaret and also working in restaurants.

4. How did you find an opportunity to showcase your choreography before you became well-known?

I have never auditioned or applied ourselves to a showcase except when our teacher in Germany sent us to Koln’s Choreographers competition without telling us what it was. I do not like the idea of putting oneself to be selected. We have produced a lot of New York seasons ourselves by simply renting a loft or small theaters as well as performing in places that did not cost. People saw our work and began producing our work on tour and in New York.

5. What does your choreographic/artistic process entail?

It is different for each piece but for my solo work, I am concentrating most on relating to the specific place where I am placing my body, and largely work off of the given setting. Please go to WORKS pages of our website. Many pages are linked to choreographer’s notes.

6. What inspires you to choreograph? How do you find your inspirations?

See above

7. When/where do you feel most creative? Is there a special place where you make your best work?


8. How do you find new and different music? Do you use live music?

We have occasionally commissioned music in the past, and have worked with live musicians. But most of the time I made our own sound or worked with no music... just with the sound of the environment we dance in. I never care about if the music or sound fit with the work. When we used music or sound it was because the concept of the piece necessitated it.
See our WORKS pages for

RIVER (proscenium version)

9. Is there something in particular that you do when you are artistically blocked?

Walk, cook, argue, sleep

10. What has been your biggest challenge? How have you overcome it?

I do not believe in the questions of biggest, most..superlatives in general. Each time I face challenges I enjoy it. It does not occur to me to compare the challenges.

11. What accolade are you most proud to receive?

I appreciated each one of them with a surprise.

12. What do you think makes you and what you do different from everyone else in the dance world?

Agitation. Love to work. Appreciate the world. Do not like people who make bad decisions. Hate capitalists.

13. If there was one thing you would change about your dance journey, what would it be and why?

I do not believe in such questions. I love the life as is.

14. What memory do you cherish the most related to your career?

The same reason above. I try not to distinguish the best from better or good.

15. What has made you so passionate in what you do?

Dancing and performing have made who I am. I like having a different sense of time when I dance.

16. What can you offer to a dancer who isn’t sure whether to go to college or to enter the professional dance world?

Neither. Walk, see, talk, work and don’t go to college or dance studio unless you need to.

17. What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring professional dancer?

Flexible discipline. Be alert with world affairs. Help people who need help.