Eiko – A Body in Places

Eiko Otake at Alfred. Photo by Aodi Lang

Year: 2017-2018
DanceForce Member: D. Chase Angier
Artist: Eiko Otake
Community Partners: Alfred University; Marlin Miller Dance Residency Program; Institute for Cultural Unity; Alfred Ceramic Arts Museum; Hornell YMCA; School of Art and Design at Alfred University; Institute for Electronic Arts
Audience: 736
County: Allegany

Eiko Otake was a force that changed the lives, or at least the perspectives, of most everyone that encountered her during her residency in Alfred, NY, March 19-23. She taught three large Delicious Movement classes, led a community book club centered around her translation of Trinity to Trinity by Kyoko Hayashi with senior community members, gave three different public video lectures and performed twice to large audiences – one in the Alfred Ceramic Arts Museum and one in the Herrick Library located on the Alfred University campus. She also attended a public lecture given by Kristin Beck, a transgender Navy Seal who was an honored guest of the Queering Spaces exhibition that was also happening at Alfred University. Kristin came to Eiko’s lecture and performance and Eiko attended Kristen’s lecture. Kristin, Eiko, community members, and Alfred University faculty and administrators continued the discussion covering topics of otherness, pro-military vs anti-military issues at a community dinner held in a community member’s home. Eiko also had a meeting with the Art Force Five director and student members who are involved in artistic activism throughout New York state. She had several dinners with art historians, dancers, visual artists, and members of the Buffalo NY dance community. At the end of her residency she met with the director and the technical staff at the Institute of Integrated Electronic Arts to discuss the possibility of returning to western NY for a three-week residency at the Institute. During this proposed time, she will work on her video and printed materials from her A Body in Places project and possibly a new duet project. At the end of the week Eiko dynamically interacted with a variety of students, community members, faculty, curators, and fellow guest artists at a well-attended reception. Spontaneous performances erupted by Eiko and others, and lively discussions ensued.

The three public video lectures were all different and written specifically for each occasion. One lecture focused on her work in relation to the atomic bomb and global issues, one covered her work with her partner Koma and the branched off to her A Body in Places solo project, and the last lecture focused more on her work in Fukashima within her A Body in Places work. Each lecture was hosted by a different area on campus and all were free and open to the public. The public attended all three lectures that were held in a cultural anthropology class, Holmes auditorium that also included every first year student in the School of Art and Design, and in Nevins Theater at the weekly lecture series, The Bergren Forum. There were people that went to all three lectures.

The book club that met three consecutive Fridays at the Alfred Village Box of Books local library, was attended by sixteen very active elderly community members. Each meeting they discussed the contents of Trinity to Trinity translated by Eiko Otake and written by Kyoko Hayashi. Having Eiko at their last meeting was powerful and is inspiring a continued conversation with the club and Eiko. She has given them more readings and they are planning on continuing their conversations with her.

This was a significant project in an area where the residents have a variety of strong and often opposing political, religious and social beliefs. In her bio it states, “The 2016 Bessie Committee awarded a special citation to Eiko for her Platform for ‘making herself ‘radically available’ in public and private spaces.’ She also received the Anonymous was a Woman Award in 2016.” The ‘radically available’ access to Eiko as a global cultural force who works with empathy and cultural identity was absolutely impactful.