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photo by Jan Henle

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Since 1972, Japanese-born choreographer/dancers Eiko & Koma have created a unique and riveting theater of movement out of stillness, shape, light and sound. Eiko & Koma dance about what matters to them. Thier subjects are elemental; their message pitiless yet humanistic. Both their choreography and stagecraft are characterized by bold, highly theatrical strokes. The result is stark, infused with relentless stillness that subverts and transcends our everyday notions of time and space. Eiko & Koma want the vulnerability of their own dancing bodies to invite the audience's empathy.

Eiko & Koma studied with Kazuo Ohno in Japan, Manja Chmiel in Germany and Lucas Hoving in the Netherlands before moving to New York in 1976 with their first piece White Dance. Since then, they have presented their works at theaters, universities, museums, galleries and festivals world-wide, including numerous appearances at the American Dance Festival and five seasons at BAM's Next Wave Festival. Eiko & Koma have also created two “living” gallery installations: Breath, commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1998, and Naked, commissioned by the Walker Art Center in 2010. For both of these engagements, Eiko & Koma performed for four weeks during all open museum hours.

Eiko & Koma have created and presented site works as free-admission events at dozens of sites for over 40,000 audience members. River takes place in a body of moving water. The Caravan Project (1999), a “museum by delivery” installation, is performed in a specially modified trailer. Offering, premiered in Battery Park near Ground Zero in 2002, is a ritual in communal mourning. Tree Song (2004) honors trees, their resilience, and endurance. Cambodian Stories Revisited was premiered in the St Mark’s Church’s graveyard in 2007. Water (2011), a collaboration with composer-musician Robert Mirabal, was premiered  in the reflecting pool on Lincoln Center Plaza. Whenever possible (almost always), Eiko & Koma perform these outdoor works free to the public.

Eiko & Koma’s noted stage collaborations include Fragile (2012, with Kronos Quartet),  Hunger (2008, with Cambodian painters-turned-performers Peace and Charian), Mourning (2007, with pianist Margaret Leng Tan), Cambodian Stories (2006, with the Reyum Painting Collective of young Cambodian artists), Be With (2001, with Anna Halprin and Joan Jeanrenaud), When Nights Were Dark (2000, with Joseph Jennings and a Praise Choir), the proscenium version of River (1997, with Kronos Quartet and composer Somei Satoh), Wind (1993, with Chanticleer), and Land (1991, with Robert Mirabal and Sandra Lerner). Eiko & Koma are now embarked on a three-year Retrospective Project that considers the arc of their four-decade career as a springboard for moving forward.

Eiko & Koma have received two “Bessies”(1984 and 1990) Guggenheim (1985), MacArthur (1996) and United States Artists (2006) Fellowships. They were honored with the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award (2004) and the Dance Magazine Award (2006) for lifetime achievement in modern dance. Most recently, Eiko & Koma were honored to be among the first round of artists selected for the Doris Duke Performing Arts Awards (2012).

Complete Biography
Eiko Bio 2015
Eiko Otake Short Bio
Eiko Japanese bio
Retrospective Project page

Eiko & Koma timeline
designed by Caitlin Mack for the exhibition, Residue: An Installation by Eiko & Koma , presented at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, July 19 -- October 30, 2011