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Eva Yaa Asantewaa on A Body in a Cathedral | Eiko + Koma
Eva Yaa Asantewaa on A Body in a Cathedral

Eiko Otake at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

  • InfiniteBody art and creative consciousness, November 26, 2016
  • Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Black Friday. I have not spent a penny in stores. Just carfare to travel uptown to watch Eiko Otake at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine where the Japan-born master dancer is in residence through March 11 of next year.

So, how do you find Eiko in that massive space?

Please. Just walk around a few minutes, maybe have a look at William Johnston's portraits of her, and soon, as if from out of nowhere, she will spy you, swoop down and claim you.

When Eiko talks directly to you, she gets right up in your space. You have no time to work out how that happened. You're just swept up in her energy. There's always something somewhere else that she wants to show you, and when she moves off to do so, she's raptor-swift. You just hustle along at her single gesture of command.

She also loves to gather all of her people--friends, students, tourists from Greece and Korea who just happened by--and make a party of strangers. Everyone must first meet everyone else. In this way, Eiko makes the grandeur of the cathedral a little less daunting. She gives permission to everyone to tag along as she drifts here and there--from choir to crossing to congregation seats to art displays to imposing bronze doors--and you get the feeling she might secretly own the joint.

Not quite, though. Not yet. The handsome cathedral provides a dramatic visual backdrop for this dancer. But I sense these two acclaimed works of art are still getting to know one another.

I have most recently seen Eiko's A Body in Places all over my place--the East Village--in her mesmerizing Spring 2016 platform for Danspace Project. I get and am deeply shaken by what she has done in Fukushima. But I am now trying to get a read on what Eiko's body means in the context of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. So far, I can only make connections between her woman's body and the body of The Christa Project art works displayed throughout this sacred space.

Eiko returns to the cathedral in late January and will continue work through early March, culminating in performances to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Check back here as I have been invited to visit again next year and document what I'm seeing. In the meantime, please enjoy a few more photos from yesterday afternoon.