Mourning*
pianist Margaret Leng Tan | photo by Jaye R. Philips

Mourning* (2007)

About Collaborating with Margaret

We met Margaret Leng Tan for the first time at the Asian Cultural Council gala in 2004. Rachel Cooper of The Asia Society casually suggested that we three should work together. Though we had long admired Margaret (her recording of Somei Satoh's Litania was one of our favorites) we were unable to imagine ourselves dancing to piano music. When Yoko Shioya of Japan Society contacted us for this commission, we visited Margaret's Brooklyn studio. Moving between several Steinways, numerous toy pianos and other unconventional instruments with five dogs in tow, Margaret played for 3 straight hours, just for us. It was as if she could not hold anything back and wanted to share with us her beautiful jewels. We were moved.

After repeatedly listening to her extensive repertoire we returned, much to our surprise, to the very kind of music we once thought, and still think, is impossible to dance with. But we found the challenge of honoring such emotionally wrenching music irresistible.

For a long time we have been dancing to mourn and to feel closer to lives other than human lives. During our month-long residency in Alaska, hosted by the Alaska Dance theater and funded by United States Artists, we saw many wild animals and learned the history of the land and the people. It seems fitting for us to explore with Margaret, a passionate animal rights advocate, that to mourn is to grieve not only for man's cruelty to man, but to feel remorse for the pain that humans have inflicted upon the earth and all of its living beings.

--Eiko

Read more about Mourning.