The Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable
Photo by William Johnston

The Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable

  • Tuesday, November 20 at 7pm
  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine
  • Conceived by Eiko Otake
    Performed by DonChristian Jones, Mark McCloughan, Alexis Moh, Eiko Otake, and Margaret Leng Tan

    Open Rehearsals Nov. 19, 11 am – 5 pm 
    Performance Nov. 20, 7 pm

    This November Artist in Residence Eiko Otake returns to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to work on her new project, The Duet Project: Distance Is Malleable. Eiko and her collaborators are creating and rehearsing the work in the Nave of the Cathedral and in other chambers where visitors can happen upon them, observe, and engage in conversation with the artists.

    The showing on November 20th at 7pm will be the first early-stage public presentation of Eiko’s multi-year, multi-faceted Duet Project. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue (at 112th Street), Manhattan. Admission is free and no reservations are necessary. 

    The artists involved in the project have diverse backgrounds and practices. Filmmaker Alexis Moh and poet Mark McCloughan are both longtime collaborators of Eiko’s. Pianist Margaret Leng Tan, who worked with Eiko & Koma in their 2007 Mourning, will perform two pieces by Henry Cowell for her duet with Eiko. The presentation will also include projections of Eiko created with another young collaborator, rap artist and painter DonChristian Jones, who will perform alongside them. Eiko will also present a duet with the dead: she will show a video of her interactions with paintings by her deceased grandfather, noted Japanese painter Chikuha Otake, whom she has never met.

    Eiko’s investigations with her collaborators are informal and process-oriented as they experiment with the many different ways a duet can happen. Exploring difference, collision, and communication across disciplinary and generational boundaries, the artists try to maximize the potential for each encounter, aiming for it to be meaningful to themselves and the viewers who experience it. Audience members are encouraged to have conversations with the artists and thus to contribute to the future development of the project. 

    The larger project will premiere at the 2019 American Dance Festival and will continue to develop through touring to several cities. Eiko, in dialogue with the presenters, will design each leg of the tour as a unique program that will include a collaboration with artists specific to the community she is visiting. The range of collaborations will be visible online and through media installations. 

    The development of Eiko’s Duet Project and these occasions to share it with the public are made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, the Japan Foundation’s Performing Arts Japan program, and Dance/NYC’s Dance Advancement Fund. 


    Margaret Leng Tan is an avant-garde pianist whose work goes beyond traditional boundaries of discipline or genre. She embraces aspects of theater, choreography, performance, and even uses “props” in her performances. Tan brings showmanship as well as disciplinary rigor to her work, inherited from her mentor, John Cage. Tan has been featured in international festivals and recorded with labels such as Mode and New Albion. Tan has also appeared on public television, as well as at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Tan is the subject of a feature documentary by filmmaker Evans Chan, entitled Sorceress of the New Piano: The Artistry of Margaret Leng Tan. Tan collaborated and toured with Eiko & Koma in Mourning (2007) and also performed during Danspace Project’s 2019 Platform that centered on Eiko’s A Body in Places.

    Alexis Moh is a filmmaker and multimedia artist who has worked with Eiko Otake and filmmaker Jem Cohen. Her collaborations with Eiko have been presented by Danspace Project, Dance for Camera Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and River To River Festival. Her documentary work, Recursion (built off footage taken during her time at the Standing Rock prayer camps) was shown at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and her first feature film, Spider Moth Butterfly, funded by the Mortimer-Hays Brandeis Traveling Fellowship and featuring circus artists of Mexico City and Guadalajara, is now in post-production. 

    Mark McCloughan is an artist and writer in New York City and the co-artistic director of No Face Performance Group that has presented works in venues such as FringeArts, The Barnes Foundation. Since 2014 Mark has collaborated with Eiko Otake as dramaturg for her solo Project, A Body in Places. Mark is the author of the chapbook No Harbor and the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review.

    Philly native DonChristian Jones is a New York based, visual artist, rapper, singer/songwriter, and producer. His work spans musical and time based performance, rap mixtapes, video and public murals, blending genres of painting and hip hop, referencing classical and contemporary styles. Much of his work today is informed by his time spent painting murals on Rikers Island with youth inmates. Don has shown and performed at venues such as The Whitney Museum and MoMA PS1. “Where There’s Smoke,” released in July 2018, is DonChristian’s first studio album. http://www.donchristian.world/

    The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. People from many faiths and communities worship together in services held more than 30 times a week; the soup kitchen serves roughly 25,000 meals annually; social service outreach has an increasingly varied roster of programs; the distinguished Cathedral School prepares young students to be future leaders; Adults and Children in Trust, the renowned preschool, afterschool and summer program, offers diverse educational and nurturing experiences; the outstanding Textile Conservation Lab preserves world treasures; concerts, exhibitions, performances and civic gatherings allow conversation, celebration, reflection and remembrance—such is the joyfully busy life of this beloved and venerated Cathedral.