Space Making Workshop 11/18

Research Project

At the beginning of 2022, I started to reach out to many Japanese female dance artists in the United States. Because, over these 7 years of staying in the U.S., I realized how important to understand my upbringing in terms of refining a relationship with my cultural identity and dance-making. Therefore, I looked for someone who shares a similar background as me and is able to tell the struggles and success stories with me.

When I came to the undergraduate program in Oklahoma, I was the only international student, Asian student in the department. I was super visible and aware of my skin, body, and how I move. Regardless of the visibility of my ethnicity, I had never met anybody who immigrated from Japan and pursued a career as a dance maker. I also started to figure out that I have the ability to sense and understand the choreographer’s mind. For me, dancing to someone’s choreography is some kind of translation and also a transformation of myself to be their voice. On the other hand, dance-making is embodying my own creative voice. It was more difficult to process than translation. I felt I needed some assistance in understanding what is my creative voice, and how to polish it.

The generous artists named, Ayako Kato (Chicago IL) and Nami Yamamoto (NYC, NY) are willing to share the stories of their careers in dance-making in the United States. They are born and raised in Japan, and at some point in their life, they came to the U.S. and decided to stay here in the U.S. to pursue dance-making. Their decision itself is super brave to me but also they have been actively making work. Nami is awarded by Bessie Award in 2017 for her work, “Headless wolf” and Ayako just completed her performance series Ethos started in October 2022.

Photo: Nami Yamamoto (Left) and Ayako Kato (Right)

I communicated with them over 5 months about the idea of hosting a workshop to connect us as well as share their story in a public space. We named as “Space Making Workshop” to invite people to experience Nami and Ayako’s dance practice and have a conversation with them.

I organized the “Space Making Workshop” in November 2022 at the Ohio State University. Both artists traveled to Columbus for the first time on November 17th. The workshop was at the Barnett Theater from 3 to 5 PM. Nami started to make us move. She brings us to a circle and shifts weight from one leg to the other. Looking at each other, sensing each other’s weight. Naturally, we were smiling at each other. Nami incorporates puppetry in her work. She and I made the puppet on the site, and we offer participants to try puppetry. In Japanese puppetry, Bunraku is usually three puppeteer move one puppet. It’s coordination, communication, and storytelling. Next, following Ayako telling Japanese philosophy, Furyu (Wind and flow). Back to the circle, opened both arms, and breathe together. Found a partner and slowly improvised with music. 

After all the movement sessions, we formed the circle at the Barnett Theater. I asked them prior to the workshop, What events/What things/who did shape them. It was so interesting to hear about their upbringing; what was important and affected them being who they are. As I write above, I felt my cultural identity always come forward more than myself. I was always grappling with authenticity and cultural representation. What does it mean to be an “Asian”, “East Asian”, or “Japanese” woman? I was curious to hear about their journey to think about the intersection between cultural identity and dance-making. Ayako is externally expressive about her choreographic inspiration which is based on the Japanese philosophy, Furyu while Nami doesn’t mention “Japanese culture” in her work. However, the way Nami communicated with dancers and how she utilized the space between dancers and movement phrases are informed by her college time in Ehime, Japan. No matter how much explicit their Japanese upbringing, both said “I am proudly being a Japanese woman making a dance work in the United States.”

During these intense two days, I spent a wonderful time sharing my and their story of struggles and successes. Moved and shared the space. Even though we were born and raised in different times and places, this workshop made a space for us to gather here, in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, we were working on a solo collaboration that I am going to share at the MFA thesis project showing on February 16th-18th 2023. Each artist oversees my work and creates the solo together with me over zoom and in-person studio rehearsal. I am excited to share our work at the end of my journey in the MFA program at Ohio State University.

Stay tuned!

Performance information is here ->

Being analog -Documentation in Film Photography-

Archiving, Life logging, Research Project

I am always fascinated by black and white photography. The simplicity of color yet provokes the imagination of what scenery looks and feels. I cannot deny my mother’s influence. In our living room, wherever we move to, she always hangs two black and white photographs on the wall. I am always fascinated by black and white photography. The simplicity of color yet provokes the imagination of what scenery looks and feels. I cannot deny my mother’s influence. In our living room, wherever we move to, she always hangs two black and white photographs on the wall. These photographs are taken by Ansel Adams. Very detailed, slow-shatter speed, high contrast photographs show the beauty of nature.

Oak Tree in Snow
Moonrise, Hernandez

In our world lives in, we prioritize speed. How quickly we can get to the goal, or achieve the results, find the fastest way to be successful… This semester, one of my favorite courses I am taking is the Darkroom photography course. The process of developing film photography in the darkroom teaches me how slow and delicate the process will assist in making the best result.

To see what you take in a film camera, start with developing the film roll to the negatives. Usually, the process takes 20-30 minutes. It required constant agitating with chemicals, almost like soothing the baby. The delicateness and slow porcess make a magic.
There is one time, when I tried to develop the negatives by class time, I rushed the process and destroyed them… If negatives don’t develop well, all data turned out all black and will not restore the image. Also, it is impossible to recreate the moment you snap a photo. It gives you not only the sallow but the sense of loss. Same as human memories. We forget and lose someone, something, or some events in our life if we do not imprint them in our brains or recall them. These memories will vanish in the dark.

Correctly developed negatives
My damaged negative… so sad

After finishing making negatives, it’s time to make the prints. In the darkroom, use an enlarger to light up one negative on a printing paper. It requires experimenting with the duration of exposure time to get the preferred tone of color. The longer exposure to the light, the darker the color gets. Similar to human skin.
After lighting up the negative on the paper, the print goes through 3 chemicals; developers, stop-bath, and fix. Sink it in each chemical tray for a couple of minutes with constant agitation. Finally, after all the processes, you are out of the darkroom and able to see the result.

Rehearsal process on film photography

The pictures above are the moments from my rehearsal. I documented when dancers talked about their stories about their memorable objects. Looking at the prints, no matter how much movement inside the frame, they exist at the exact moment when I snap the camera. It’s almost like the camera froze the time. The sense of time is totally different in film photography compared to photos on the digital camera or on the phone. I see this difference as the magic of being analog. This analog technology makes time tangible. It is interesting how humans create film photography to capture the fragment of time. We have a desire to conserve the time slipping through us. And for me, using analog technology such as film photography gives me an opportunity to re-think the definition of time and understand the meaning of documentation. Going through all the processes with many hours to print one frame of negative is more meaningful than an instant snap by the phone.

START -The last year of my MFA journey-

Archiving, Life logging

The last year of my MFA journey started this Monday. Time flies so fast. I cannot believe that it has been already 2 years studying at Ohio State University. 

What has changed? 

There has been a huge shift in my dance career. I injured my knee over the summer and I cannot fully capable of dancing by end of this year. The first thing I learned was how to rest by sensing and managing the pain. The second thing I re-learned was how to walk. Walking is like breathing in daily life so I have never paid attention to my bones and muscle that are utilized in walking. This injury made me feel like I was aging back to be a baby, which is very refreshing and I appreciate more about the human body more. It also drew my attention to somatic movement practice such as Bartenieff Fundamentals (which I am excited to teach this Fall 2022). The surgery was successful and after 9 weeks of surgery, I can walk without crutches and climb stairs without pain.

1st week after the surgery

Through this recovery journey, I had to ask myself, 

“Why do I want to keep dancing?

First of all, I came too far to stop my dance journey. If I may speak bluntly, I am very stubborn so I don’t want to quit. I came to the U.S., finished my B.F.A. in Dance Performance, and I am here in Columbus to wrap up my Master’s degree in DANCE! Dance has always been in my life and no matter what I decided to live a life with dance. Dance is my priority, love, passion, and something I see myself can contribute to the world. 

Dance is an underestimated subject if you are in school, underestimated career if you work as a dancer, and underestimated research topic if you are in academia. Not many people understand how much we dedicate our effort, labor, and time to use dance to challenge the world. 

Even though the dance population is huge, the people who use dance as a lifestyle are very few. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who dance with their life. In my last year as a dance student as OSU, I will prepare to go out to the world and make a community of dancers who create change beyond borders and cultures.

Reflection of Transcendence -時を超えて- 4/16/2022

Performance, Research Project

I have been searching for who I am as an artist. And getting into the beginning stage of my thesis, I pondered the experience of being a Japanese female contemporary artist in the United States. I have my own unique experience of how did I arrive at this point in my life. However, I was curious to hear the story of precedents.

Over this spring semester, I have researched one Japanese female contemporary artist, Saeko Ichinohe. Saeko Ichinohe came to the U.S. in 1968 and since then she performed/choreographed/taught dance as a cultural exchange experience. She was inspired by Japanese culture, philosophy, poems, and literature. She was well-known for bridging Western concert dance and Nihon Buyoh (Japanese traditional dance). She passed away in 2021 though I was fortunate to access her choreography through Labanotation. I chose “Chidori” because she notated the choreography by herself in 1972. I wanted to know her movement pattern through how she notates.

I asked for help with reading scores from Dr. Williams and my cohort, Forrest Hershey. We met two times a week to read and move our bodies to connect with Ms.Ichinohe kinesthetically. She emphasized the location and direction of the weight. Weight drives the movement the most and clearly draws the space between two dancers. “Chidori” is a love story between a fisherman and a bird, so I imagined that she has a specific instruction to deliver this story.

I wanted to know more about her artistic journey outside of notation score. I have researched her online yet there were only a few materials available. Then I found out that there are a couple of her personal archives are stored at New York Public Library. So, I decided to go to New York City in March to trace her footsteps. At the library, I watched many video recordings and read her artistic statements, CV, company record, and choreography notes. All the materials help me to understand her deeper than it used to be. Also, I visited all the locations she filed as her company locations and performance venues. Even though our paths did not cross, through her archives I could know her and her passion deeply. Sharing the same space where she practiced, performed, and choreographed was meaningful to me. I summarize my research journey on Saeko Ichinohe in a short documentary film.

Tracing her footsteps made me think about how I want to proceed with my career as a contemporary performing artist. Ms.Ichinohe made the most of her Japanese upbringing and integrated it with her primary dance training; ballet, and modern dance. I have a similar background in former movement practice as her. Although, I have a huge resistance to being perceived to be unique because of my cultural heritage. I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan where I can encounter many people visit from around the world. And since I came to the United States in 2016, I have absorbed multiple cultures into my body. However, I cannot get rid of the labels such as “female”, “East Asian,” and “Japanese” from my body. When I stand on the stage my body speaks out louder than who I am. Therefore, dancing serves me how to free myself from the labels. How I can challenge my audience to see my authenticity that is coded in the movements that I create. This question was the start of my solo practice.

The research journey concluded on 4/16 performance “Transcendence -時を超えて-” with amazing collaborators, Columbus Koto Ensemble/ Forrest Hershey/ Yujie Chen. I also have huge thanks to Dr. Williams, the Institute of Japanese Studies, and the Center for Ethnic Studies to make this performance happen.

What’s next?

Archiving Black Performance Part 1 -Pearl Primus “Bushasche Etude”-

Archiving, Performance, Research Project

I had an amazing opportunity to learn Bushasche Etude, choreographed by Pearl Primus over the first 7 weeks of this semester. Dr. Ursla Payne, who was the prior assistant of Peral Primus came to visit OSU and directly taught us the choreography. The learning process with her taught me so many things!

Bushasche Etude is choreographed in 1948. It was based on a traditional dance from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dr. Primus was inspired by Bushasche, War Dance, A Dance for Peace in which the participants call up the gods of war and defeat them.

Cast members and Dr.Payne, our professor Prof.Perkins and Dr.Williams

First, the transmission of the movement through different bodies was interesting. On the first day of the rehearsal, we learned the motivation and passion of Dr.Primus’s artmaking. We read and watched her artistic statement and performance brochures. She wanted to bring African aesthetics to the United States population. However, it made me also think that “am I allowed to dance this choreography?” I was worried about embodying the choreography might offend Dr. Primus’s initial intention. I asked Dr. Payne my fear. Her answer was simple, “You can be a translator.” She said there is no need to be afraid. Embodying the choreography is meaningful for more people to invite and shed light on Dr.Primus’s work. Filling the gap between the choreography and my own aesthetic and living experience. It was a huge relief for me to embrace this learning process.

The philosophy of embodying the choreography, we often get out of the dance studio and feel the presence of people, sky, trees, the ground…all surroundings that we don’t see inside of the building. Using all five senses to fully engage and imagine ourselves in the land of Africa is crucial to this piece. Dr. Payne always shouts to us “feel the earth, listen to our breath, dance together.”

It was a beautiful 7 weeks and 3 performances at African American and African Studies Community Extension Center and Bernett Theater. Very fortunate to trace back the history and showcase it in the present day.

Performance at African American and African Studies Community Extension Cente

1/3 of the Fall 2021 -Beginning of the 2nd year-

Research Project

Time flies so fast. I started the 2nd year of my MFA program. It’s been like a jet coaster ride: running around, ups and downs with full speed.

There are many ”new” things happening this fall semester. 1) I am teaching two movement classes jazz and ballet for non-major students, 2) fully in-person classes, 3) living with one of my cohorts…. so many ”first time”!! It is exciting but exhausting at the same time.

My challenge for this semester is to ground myself and preparing for the fruits of this MFA journey. The starting of my 2nd year feels fresh like my 1st year since we are shifting to fully in-person class. COVID is still a thing however I definitely have a strong community that I can rely on and deeper creative thoughts.

In Japan, there is a quote from Zeami,

“初心忘るべからず。=Don’t forget your first resolution. Always keep your mind open and evolvIng.

Zeami established Noh, which is the oldest traditional performing arts in Japan. He mentioned in his book saying obtain one art form takes a lifetime. As a movement practitioner, this word hits me hard. It tells me the importance of rooting myself and reminding where and why I started this journey with dance.

My hope this semester is to deepen my understanding of the relationship between me and dance. I have been dancing for almost 22 years yet there are many things I need to learn to expand. However, if I keep looking up and forget the root, I will lose my growth and eventually fall.

Reminder: Pause and look down where you arrive at. Finding the connection to the ground and feel the root/the heart where everything starts from.

Performance reflection 3/20


I had the privilege to be part of the thesis project with Laura Neese (3rd year MFA at OSU dance). I have been working with her since last fall, and this performance is an extension of her research.

The performers were Laura Neese, Teddi Vargas (Senior at OSU dance), Michaela Neild (2nd year MFA at OSU dance), and myself. This time, Cellist, Sara Troeller, and make-up artist, Parisa Ahmadi also joined the team to elaborate the performance. We performed at the middle yard at the Hopkins Hall.

Photographed by Abby Koskinas

I joined them at the beginning of February when Columbus was covered with white snow. I remember the first time Laura, Teddy, and I went out to the site. The trace of the footsteps, trees standing strong and lonely, the warmth of the body under the coldness. After the exploration at the site, we created the phrase by using all the elements we witness. It was a reminder of the beautiful findings in nature even though after the snow melts.

We performed the basic phrase every time we hear the theme played by Sara. I really cherish the feeling and memory every time I dance this basic phrase. Sara’s music was adding another layer of inspiration and I loved how it weaved between 4 moving bodies and space.

All-white costumes stood out and emphasized the contrast from the architecture surrounding us. We also had bright-colored eye make-up which made me think about the joy or celebration of the arrival of spring. 

Photographed by Abby Koskinas

As for the score, we had 5 minutes of stillness and 10 minutes of improvisation, a total of 15 minutes session 4 times. (I wrote down a clear explanation below. )

We separated the site into 4, Ramp, open space (looks like a theater), bicycle stand, grabble with chairs. And we spread out to each site for the first 15 minutes. The first solo was fully engaged with the environment. The sense of visual, touch, hearing drove my movement. The second and third were partnering. I had duets with Teddi and Michaela. Both duet sessions were always found surprise, excitement, and creativity. It also could be described as active listening, call, and response, or conversation. The last part is a finale. We all gathered at the ramp. I really enjoyed all of us get to connect and sense each other. Someone initiates and someone responds. We never knew what will happen, but our connections were strong enough to adapt, adjust, and create together. I felt the sense of community.

This process was never be forced to recreate. Laura allows us to jump into more possibility within the movement score and simply having fun move together.

<Score of the performance>

Four 15 minute cycles: 5 mins stillness/silence10 minutes movement and all begin with basic phrase. 

Following with improvisation solo, interaction with environment, and interaction with each other, evolving over time

cycle 1:(theme plays) stillness

(theme plays) all start with phrase at individual sites, then explore individual impetus and interaction with site

cycle 2: (theme plays) stillness in between your sites I and II
(theme plays) start with phrase -> partnerships at the sites, explore site with each other in mind

cycle 3: (theme plays) stillness between sites II and III
(theme plays) start with phrase, evolve from there in new duets at your site III

cycle 4: (theme plays) stillness between sites III and the ramp
(theme plays) start with phrase, explore ramp, interacting with site and groups

(theme plays) complete phrase again in unison

What leads us to here? -seeking connection from the past-

Composition, Research Project

In Composition class with Professor Crystal Perkins, I had a chance to read the book, “Emergent strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” by Adrienne Maree Brown. From her Spell and Practice section, Visionary Fiction is stood out to me and decided to try out for myself.

The definition of Visionary Fiction is “a way of to practice the future in our minds, alone, and together” and enable us to connect the past and the future. In my opinion, the past gives a great lesson either sweet or bitter, so applying the lessons to the future-self will be helpful to lead the direction. The best practice of Visionary Fiction is writing.

Photo by Lum3n on

So I would like to introduce about the workshop for practicing Visionary Fiction. The author of the book, Adrienne Maree Brown organized the workshop in May 2020 to cope with COVID-19 pandemic. According to her blog (Link in below), she described this workshop for activate the imagination. She invited people to work on prompts for 30 days to get to writing. It was worth reading through all the texts to see how she navigate to write the story. For example, her Day 1 prompt:Write a conversation between the virus and the crisis, which is quite unique way to animate the situation.

So what I would like to do is using her day1 prompt with a little bit twist. I wrote the conversation between my past self (A) and the future self (B). This is what I gathered so far.

A: Hey, where are you going?

B: I don’t know. Why?

A: Because that’s not where you usually go?

B: Excuse me? How do you know my “usual” pattern?

A: That’s not the point. I want to ask you why you are going there?

B: There? You mean here?

A: Here? I lead you to there.

Very simple, but it’s surprisingly deep. Please let me know on the comments if anyone tried this exercise to see what the past tells you.


Book: “Emergent strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” by Adrienne Maree Brown.

Adrienne Maree Brown Blog “Pandowrimo”

My Dance Film Journey

Dance film

< 22 shots > 

It was a great practice for understanding the camera operation. The all angles are capturing exact the same movements yet, since I shot Ishy outside at the South Oval, I also noticed that how much lighting affected to the shots. Especially I enjoyed the editing aspect to create the whole choreography with only 2 movements. The limitation gave me a power of making something really pleasing. I had a clear understanding of the goal of this assignment and I felt succesful making 22 shots.  

< Art Project> 

This practice I really enjoyed it and I could say the film was successful to display my intention. The idea of 2D image into 3D creation is really captivating to me. The image I chose was black and white photograph taken by Ansel Adams, but it also connected to my childhood memories. So, the image itself was still, no movement inspiration whatsoever, yet I had the words, nostalgia and tracing to my home is in my mind to create the film. I chose Katie O’Loughlin as a performer since she is amazing mover as well as bold to try new thing with me. In editing, I noticed that I tend to overuse the layers, though in this film, it really worked well to tell the doubles or past self in the frame.   

<Final: Fish out of the water> 

My initial plan was to portrait my personal experience as an outsider from own culture. I wanted to keep the term “Fish out of the water” as a metaphor. Yet, I had a challenging time finding the performer who can display the struggle within their own heritage and now. So, I changed my direction to go along with the term, “fish out of the water” and created the narrative with Jackie that she had a daydream at the aquarium AKA fish shop. In this film, I used all elements that I learned in this class such as angles, musicality, key frames to make smooth transitions. The thing I regret is the dancing part. I had Jackie against the wall with the projection, and I shot her with many angles in different level. However, it turned out the lines of the wall creates the frame inside the frame. The film itself was successful to the audience to have a clear storyline as well as I could use all the skills I learned in this class.   

<Reflection of the semester> 

Dance Film I is one of the class I was excited to take in this semester. I was ready to dive in this class. At first, it was challenging due to all instruction and class time was online. I have only used iMovie so learning all the function that DaVinci Resolve have took time and many practices and fails. Although the speed of the class and video recordings helped me a lot to catch up. I watched couple times to fully understand the editing software. In terms of filming, I enjoyed a lot to find more perspectives by applying the angles, levels, the physical distance with the objects. I only used front view to record my dance work, but to allow myself to have cinematic approach, I saw more possibilities in film. Overall, I gain a confidence to say I have a fundamental knowledge of making film.

Intermedia Reflection -Introducing new perspective-


This semester, the class I was really excited to take was Intermedia Lab with Professor Norah Zuniga-Shaw. Due to the COVID restriction, we could not get inside of the Motion Lab, which I was disappointed with. Although I was so amazed by all the resources from viewing, reading, discussions, live events that she brought to the classes, the technology lab with Oded, and classmates who are bold to try new ideas, open to collaborating, and dive into the creative journey of unique, evoking, mesmerizing projects.

The first project I did was a “digital double” project with Abby Koskinas. She was a senior year BFA student in dance at Ohio State University. I build her doubles by interviewing her and ended up portraiting her rigidness for creativity, but spontaneous and adventurous personality. We streamed through OBS, a design and streaming application. Learning OBS was also a new way of creative thinking because I was used to horizontal timeline designing instead of vertically layered scenes with text, video clips, and audio. It was challenging, yet worth spending time and fighting to reach the level of I satisfied.

The most interesting idea that I learned over this class is creating sonic space. Hearing is such a strong sense to bring the sensation and connect to the memories or experiences directly. At the beginning of the semester, I tend to listen to songs written in Japanese. And realized that I was trying to make a safe space sonically. So from my experience, I was curious in creating an intimate place for an artist to share with the audience. Then throughout the corse, we had Voicemail “Pen Pals” Choreography for the Ears and Audio Walk at the South Oval in person which all inspired me. Another reference is Taryn Simon’s Assembled Audience. I visited the exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts at the beginning of October (The link below). It was an eye-opening experience! The darkness sharpens the hearing and the sound of crapping gives me the sensation of being surrounded by clouds of people.

My interest leads up to the second project, Surveillant Hall Audio Memory Walk. I partnered up with Abby Koskinas again to collect the memories of the Surveillant Hall from most of my classmates. I have always wanted to know what the dance building used to be before the COVID-19 hits so this project was like a treat for me. We started from the entrance and decided to navigate the audience by introducing each space from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor. Abby did an amazing job to contact other undergraduates to collect their stories. We actually went inside the building and calculated the time in between moving each studio, walking the aisle, and going up and down the stairs. It took a long time to put together all the audio files, although it was a really fun process. We wanted to corporate the video clips as well, though time was limited, and hard to obtain some clips from the Dance department.

Surveillant Hall Audio Memory Walk was the prototype of my final project. It is dedicated to the specific location and the memories attached to. I used the same structure but changed into my home town, Tokyo Japan. Started with brainstorming how I navigate the audience and decided to make an audio trip, “Safe and sound”. I came up with an idea while I was flying to Detroit, so I had a clear image to imitate the airline announcement. Then I started writing about my daily life in Tokyo adding my personal memories, waking up in my house, walking to the train stations, going to the school, getting snacks on the way home, and coming back to the house. I spent a long time researching online to find the exact sound that I wanted to use. After I have a solid collection of sounds, I put them all together on GarageBand. I did not have time to dive into learning Audacity so that’s the only thing I would like to go back and spend time more. My goal is to create an immersive, intimate, vulnerable experience to share with the audience. 

Overall, I am very grateful for this class to open my eyes to technology and introduce me to new perspectives to present the artwork. This class pushed, motivated, and encouraged me to start with an idea to create even though you don’t know the direction you want to go. The maker should let making lead the way. That what I learned the most in this class. I will continue to be bold and say YES to the ideas and keep creating.


Taryn Simon: Assembled Audience