Aomori Aomori : Woollahra
With Sioned Huws and Reina Kimura
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Aomori Aomori: Woollahra
*Aomori place of Blue-Green Forests a geographical place in the northern Tohoku region of northern Japan
1 – 18 February 2017
*Aomori a metaphorical place within us all, believing in wishes, hopes, dreams and desires
With Sioned Huws and Reina Kimura Shadow artists: Anna Kuroda and Ryuichi Fujimura Workshop participants: Cristina Aranzubia, Tom Jones, Charemaine Seet, Elizabeth Ostor, Raynen O’Keefe, Linda Luke
*Aomori in Europe, often confused with the Italian and French word for Love, Amore, Amour therefore Aomori Aomori could be read as Love Love *I have often referred to Aomori Aomori as a love story without an ending; that is, a love story based in reality.
Aomori Aomori is a horizontal translation of a vertical traditional dance, placing the body on the same line as a landscape. A piece of work based on formal choreographic structures, play structure, memory structure, working from personal photographs and in performance becomes a remembered landscape in a new space, or a landscape of bodies. —Sioned Huws
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Aomori in Australia Aomori Aomori is a reflection on an individual’s internal landscape, memory, person, place and the two parallel natural landscapes of Aomori Japan and Snowdonia Wales. From vertical to horizontal, the body becomes space and space is transformed into body. In repetition, the movement assumes a sensibility and sensuality of an internal landscape, reflecting the soul of Aomori, the silent repetition of snowfall. The work was created to offer a perceptive celebration of landscapes remembered and architectural locations. Arriving in Aomori is like going home. –Sioned Huws Sioned Huws and her collaborating artist Reina Kimura (Japan) spent two weeks in residency with Critical Path and invited the local community to participate in a development and presentation of Aomori Aomori in the Drill Hall. Through the project Sioned and Reina explored the idea of a remembered landscape in a new space; working with participants to create a shared portrait of landscapes, architecture and bodies. Critical Path invited two Sydney-based choreographers - Anna Kuroda and Ryuichi Fujimura - to work as ‘shadow artists’ for Aomori Aomori. They shared their own art and life experience and worked with Sioned to gain an understanding of her practice through this project’s transmission. I was not familiar with the term ‘shadow artists’ to begin with. So I asked Sioned and Reina about it because I thought the concept came from them but neither knew what it is. After my involvement of the project, my interpretation of shadow artists is [those] who inherit a legacy (in our case, part of the Aomori Aomori choreography) from other artists and carry it in a new environment. –Ryuichi Fujimura
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Sioned Huws was born in Bangor North Wales (UK) in 1965. She lives and works in the UK and Japan. Sioned trained at Laban Centre London 1983 to 87 before going to the Merce Cunningham Studios New York 1998 to 1990. She has been making her own work since 1998 and has presented internationally, including in Germany, Singapore, France, Korea, Norway, Slovenia, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Costa Rica and extensively in the UK and in Japan. In 2008 Sioned first went to Aomori, the Tōhoku region of Northern Japan. Over the following years she developed a strong connection with the community there and created the project Aomori Aomori that was presented in different incarnations between 2008 and 2017. In 2017 Sioned brought the project to Sydney with Critical Path. I have been very fortunate to meet and had great pleasure in learning from and working with great masters of the Tsugaru Traditional Performing Art forms of Aomori, Yoshiya Ishikawa – Tsugaru hand dance (te-odori), Hasegawa Sangen-Kai, Yuji Hasegawa – Tsugaru Shamisen instrument and Kiyoko Goto – Tsugaru Minyo Song. You could say that Aomori Aomori is a tribute to the performing art forms of Tsugaru. –Sioned Huws Reina Kimura is from Aomori, Japan. She started to study ballet and modern dance at the age of four and is now a dancer and choreographer based in both Tokyo and Kobe. She is interested in the influences that the environment and language (dialect) has upon the body, and has carried out her research and work in a variety of different places. Reina participated for an extended period in Sioned Huws ‘Aomori project’ starting in 2008, during which time she performed in Japan, Europe, Singapore, and Australia as dancer and co-choreographer.
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Place and porosity On approaching an interior space or architecture, I consider its connection to the outside locality, where it is situated, windows, doors, exits and entries, daylight, the movement of natural light... welcoming the surrounding community to enter into my workspace... a working process made visible to the outside world, inviting a curiosity. –Sioned Huws, reflection on working in public spaces
The Drill Hall windows and doors were kept open during our working hours, to welcome locals and their curiosity – many a conversation took place through a window as passers-by popped their heads in to have a look. This is a welcoming approach, opening up a space, realizing it is connected to a larger outside environment, a community and a community that was, to recognize the story (history) of a place. –Sioned Huws
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Picture and plane Sioned and Reina introduced us to two sections of Aomori: photographs and the deconstruction and reimagining of folk dance to the horizontal plane. The floor dance was particularly challenging physically in terms of dance skill... the part I did was very compelling. I began to understand the incredible rigour of Sioned and Reinaâ€™s work. The floor work is a minimalist marathon that demands great strength and stamina of body and also of memory and concentration. To begin to learn the intricate floor patterns and the ensemble aspects were exacting (and gruelling). Yet it was a thrill to be involved in intense and artistic dancing. That was fascinating and a huge challenge because it brought up questions about what is was to be a performer in such a work; how much one could endure in physical terms. The floor work resulted in unusual brushing and also nausea from repeated turns and flicking of the head... the physiological effect was immense. Yet it was so fascinating to imagine doing this work for ten years. It gave me a deeper understanding about how profound the long-term commitment was to this idea. â€“Charemaine Seet
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Participants and process The photographs section…this was taking personal photographs and reproducing the physical postures and gestures in the photos as memories and documents of a certain time and feeling. That was poetic and enjoyable to do. I was able to perform this, which was nice as it did not require lots of rehearsal. I appreciated being involved in this. I think Sioned and Reina were thoughtful putting this into the workshop so that everyone could be included. –Charemaine Seet I along with others struck poses translated from our pasts. Together we studied old photographs of ourselves that we had been asked to bring along. We then re-enacted these snippets from our pasts, freezing in the position/pose/posture that we had taken maybe twenty or thirty years earlier. The experience was surprisingly moving, I found myself almost able to feel my mother on my arm, and in the next pose see my sister whom an old photograph showed me (observing her out of the corner of my eye). –Tom Jones I made a short movement phrase based on several old photos of mine during the residency. Its process inspired and informed me in the work I am making that explores the notion of tracing old memories. –Ryuichi Fujimura
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I felt Aomori project was like home. It was similar to how I work on my own piece which is based on certain experiences that have happened in my past. Sioned speaks straight with me. Her two clear eyes see through into a real deep place in my body. I can trust her. She told me that our work ‘Window’ and ‘Aomori Aomori’ are similar and I agree. During this rehearsal process I was very serious and excited. The energy and concentration needed was exposing. There is no joke or fakeness. I realised there are not many places you can explore strong emotion and push physically so hard. I recognised embedding past experience deeply gives work and practice greater intimacy and sensitivity. I understood Sioned has a similar way of translating movement from something really personal and emotional to a pared back, simple place. –Anna Kuroda Aomori Aomori: Woolhara 17
Presenting Aomori Aomori Aomori Aomori responding to the place and people encountered in Woollahra was performed by Sioned Huws, Reina Kimura, Anna Kuroda, Ruyichi Fujimura with participants Tom Jones and Charemaine Seet. Saturday 18 February, The Drill Hall The audience was made up of a range of ages from children to older adults; cushions, chairs and mats were placed around the periphery of the room, the audience free to move around during the performance, it was delightful that children continued to play, all becoming a part of the choreographic composition of people and place; the space was lit by the natural day light coming in through the open windows and doors at each end of the space. Some audience members arrived climbing in through the widows; which reflected a part of the performance structure where Anna and Ryuichi walk counting by ten (because when we are small we first learn to count up to ten). They walk tracing the lines of rooms without walls, do they symbolize ‘souls without a home’? - stepping out through the windows and doors. The horizontal dance, danced by myself and Reina, is a horizontal translation of a vertical traditional hand dance of Tsugaru Aomori. Reflecting the harsh winter environment, the silent repetition of snow fall, the horizontal translation is an emotional response to meeting the winter environment of Aomori northern Japan and its culture for the first time (in 2007).
The sky outside became darker and darker, heavier and heavier until finally the skies broke in a loud roar of thunder and lightning, a torrential downpour of rain, beating against the corrugated iron roof of the hall, (now I’m remembering a mustard yellow colour of one wooden wall, leaning my back against it) a natural sound score, which continued to pour as I, Reina and Anna danced outside (the original Tsugaru hand dance of Aomori) and the children splashed around in the massive pools of water; at such moments we realise that the natural world is bigger than us all and that nature has no sympathy. –Sioned Huws It was a magical event, particularly with people dancing in the open air in the rain. It was a very moving experience. –Charemaine Seet
Here we remembered landscapes in new spaces, each participant working from a physical memory of person and place, arrived at by a process which starts by looking at personal photographs of family and friends, an introduction to each individual’s own cultural background and upbringing.
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Reflections I was influenced a lot after this project. I am having more curiosity and awareness; with the land, people and movements that are physically near me. I am trying to learn from that. After the Aomori project in February 2017 I returned to Japan in August and visited Sioned’s house in Iwate, Tohoku. The Aomori project gave me greater confidence. My soul is moved by dedication, effort, hardness, beauty and simplicity. After I visited Sioned in Iwate, I’ve been considering more my connection to Japan. This project definitely moved my heart. –Anna Kuroda The big part of my involvement in the project was exchange... it was interesting to me sharing our experiences of dancing in a foreign land and how those experiences have influenced our works and practices. Overall it felt to me that the experience with Sioned, Reina and Anna was human exchange more than residency participation. –Ryuichi Fujimura What I discovered in giving the material (as dance is a material just as paint is the material of a painter) to Anna and Ryuichi is that there is an incredibly detailed technical knowledge required in order to achieve the dance. It is a technique which I have developed over the years of Aomori Aomori. Yet not realizing it as a technique (I always gave more focus to the project concept as a whole), that is not until now. During this residency and working with three very serious choreographers, from their questions, curiosity and enthusiasm to learn in more depth; [I have realised] it was necessary to teach the material’s body technique. –Sioned Huws
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I think this was one of the most invaluable residencies and research periods for me as an artist. You could say I had arrived at a crossroads of my dance passions; how to communicate the method through which I work and arrive at a project, also the consideration of with whom it is developed. There is little support for dance artists working outside of the mainstream, this is why I find organisations such as Critical Path so very important and valuable; as centres of critical research, development and analysis, and bringing unexpected artists together underneath one roof. –Sioned Huws I visited Australia for the first time and I felt the layers and the invisible world from inside the land. The most impressive thing during my stay seems to be able to connect with those layers through dancing the work ‘Aomori Aomori’. [The project] was born when Sioned met Aomori (the place), and the work itself included many layers; her hometown, past memories, experiences, history etc. These met Aomori initially, later many places and many people through our touring, and the work has been developed continuously. I also met her and got a lot of these layers by continuing dancing for ten years in the work. Bringing the project in the 10th year to Sydney, the work (as a new layer) becomes part of the Australian context (with existing layers). When I was dancing, I was happy to feel that we (dance and) are here now. I was able to meet Anna and Ryuichi who are dancers living in Sydney. They face dance every day in Sydney. Even though I finished my stay and returned to Japan, I feel their lives with dancing in Sydney. They bring me a lot of power. The sensation I got with ‘Aomori Aomori’ is my wealth. I will continue to feel the land and the body from now on. I love dance. –Reina Kimura
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Acknowledgments Critical Path gratefully acknowledges the support of SOMPO Art Fund Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan, Australia Council for the Arts and Woollahra Municipal Council for supporting Sioned’s residency in Australia. Alongside this Sioned thanks ARTizan, Rikuzentakata Artist in Residency Program, Dance4, Joshibi Arts University, De Montfort University, The Saison Foundation, The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Arts Council of England for supporting the Odori-Dawns-Dance project in development.
Rikuzentakata Artists in Residency Program
Photographs: Sioned Huws, Kate Nguyen and Fabiana Serafim Choreographic notational drawings throughout: Sioned Huws Design: Deborah Kelly
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Critical Path The Drill Hall, 1C New Beach Rd, Darling Point (Rushcutters Bay), Sydney Telephone 02 9362 9403 or 02 9362 4023 Email email@example.com Web criticalpath.org.au
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Publication about Sioned Huws and her collaborating artist Reina Kimura’s residency with Critical Path in February 2017 creating a new versi...
Published on Aug 6, 2018
Publication about Sioned Huws and her collaborating artist Reina Kimura’s residency with Critical Path in February 2017 creating a new versi...