Narrated List of Performance Works
photo by John Grant

Narrated List of Performance Works

White Dance (1972-1974).  ホワイトダンス
Eiko & Koma titled all of their performances in Europe White Dance. Their presentations were always about one hour, performed without an intermission. In naming their program White Dance, Eiko and Koma were trying to create a new beginning for themselves with a contrast to the butoh works of their teachers Hijikata and Ohno, which were often described by the artists themselves as “dances of darkness.”

White Dance: Moth (1976). ホワイトダンス 蛾
In the time between their return to Japan from Europe in 1974 and leaving for New York City in 1976, Eiko & Koma choreographed this work summarizing their explorations in Europe. The choreography included a lot of floor work as the result of Eiko’s ankle injury in Europe. In May 1976, Eiko & Koma performed White Dance, subtitled Moth, for their U.S. debut at Japan Society and at subsequent performances. An excerpt of the poem “Moth” by Mitsuharu Kaneko was printed on the program notes and medieval Japanese moth designs were projected on the background. The piece was set to medieval European music and Bach. 50 min.

Fur Seal (1977).  オットセイ
Inspired by a poem by Mitsuharu Kaneko and the seals Eiko & Koma saw in California, Eiko & Koma danced to The Beatles’ “I am the Walrus” and Shubert. Their “encore dance” was to Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee.” 55 min.

Before the Cock Crows (1978).  鶏が鳴く前に
Danced to Middle Eastern folk music, this work had a very different flavor from their Japanese upbringing. The set consisted of a pickup truck full of twigs, which became an enlarged thorn. With many Q-tips stuck in her hair, Eiko danced her version of belly dance-like movement. The work was about how the body deals with the tension of anticipation. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Eiko & Koma performed with five chickens. 60 min.

Fluttering Black (1979).  はためく黒
For this piece’s premiere at Performance Garage, Glenn Branca composed music specifically for Eiko & Koma and played live with his three-person band, Static. Later named “The Spectacular Commodity (for Eiko & Koma)” the music is included on his album The Ascension (1981). Eiko & Koma as well as three musicians performed this 20-minute piece with blindfolds and earplugs, not able to hear or see to synchronize music or dance. The concept was later extended to make a 60-minute event when Isamu Noguchi and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art invited Eiko & Koma to perform alongside Noguchi’s exhibition. For that occasion, Eiko & Koma hung a large black flag and beat it during the performance.

Event Fission (1980).  分裂
Outdoor performance on the Hudson River landfill, produced by Creative Time. Eiko & Koma danced with a huge white flag billowing on top of a sand dune as the audience watched from below. The white flag was used to symbolically attack the newly developed downtown buildings. On a lower level of the landfill, to which Eiko & Koma tumbled down, there were fires on four corners of the performing area. At the end of the performance of 50 minutes, Eiko & Koma were swallowed into a deep hole they had dug and hid, disappearing with a blast of sand.

Trilogy— an evening consisting of Cell, Fission, and Entropy (1979-81).  三部作 — 細胞、分裂、エントロピー
This piece was performed without intermission and was designed for presentations in galleries, outdoor sites, and museums. In the Entropy section, Eiko & Koma wore red shoes and sang Japanese children’s songs.

Nurse’s Song (1981).  乳母の歌
With performance artist Bob Carol as the lead singer, Eiko & Koma’s downtown friends created Dirt Band and played an Allen Ginsburg composition set to a poem by William Blake. Eiko & Koma befriended Allen in the summer of 1980 when they taught a course at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Shortly after the piece’s premiere at The Kitchen, Eiko & Koma left New York City for the Catskills.  They never performed Nurse’s Song again. 20 min.

Grain (1983).  穀物
Created at their home in the Catskills and set to Gamelan music, Grain was first presented during a month-long season in an East Village loft. Charles and Stephanie Reinhart were among the ten audience members one night and invited Eiko & Koma to the American Dance Festival that year. 60 min.

Beam (1983).  梁
First piece commissioned by the American Dance Festival for Eiko & Koma’s ADF debut. Set to Asian folk music played by Eiko on a harmonium, the piece was performed on top of an eight-foot high dirt mountain placed on the orchestra pit. The piece was inspired by an old story about a community that offered a young couple as a prayer for an architectural ambition. 15 min.

Night Tide (1984).  夜の潮
First piece with full nudity. Night Tide explored the body as a landscape. This work was inspired by Eiko & Koma’s solitary living in the Catskills, where they felt the movement of mountains. Eiko & Koma received their first Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) for Grain and Night Tide, presented in a single evening at Dance Theater Workshop. 17 min.

Elegy (1984). 哀歌
Second American Dance Festival commission. Eiko & Koma danced nude in separate pools of water. Set to Korean folk music. 17 min.

Thirst (1985).  渇き
Their first longer piece entirely in silence. The backdrop and floor were painted with a burned flour paste which crumbled down as they moved. In bright light, Eiko & Koma became thirstier as the four sections progressed, seeking both water and intimacy in an extreme setting. 35 min.

By the River (1986).  河べりで
Commissioned by Boston Dance Umbrella, this work was created during a month-long residency in Boston. Clayton Campbell painted a mythological scene of the river that a dying person crosses to reach the world of the dead. 55 min.

New Moon Stories (1986).  新月物語
This tetralogy consisted of Night Tide, Beam, Shadow and Elegy and was presented in their first season at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. 75 min.

Tree (1988). 樹
Set to natural night sounds, the theme of Tree, another piece with nudity, was “a tree is wounded with its own memory.” Presented with Thirst in their second season at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. 30 min.

Canal (1989).  水路
Created in Minneapolis and commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Canal was performed with four local artists from Eiko & Koma’s month-long workshop in the Twin Cities. The cast of six was nude and the only sound was water dripping from the ceiling onto a stage full of water. 55 min.

Rust (1989).  黴
Another piece with nudity and silence, Rust was commissioned by the American Dance Festival and performed on chain-link fences hung vertically in the center of the stage. 17 min.

Memory (1989).  記憶
Created as a compliment piece to Rust, Eiko & Koma are seen on opposite sides of a chain-link fence, which sometimes separates them and at other times unites them. 12 min.

Passage (1989).  道
Performed nude and with no music except the sound of dripping water, Passage was developed from the group piece Canal and set as a duet for Eiko & Koma. Eiko & Koma performed Passage for their first engagement at the Joyce Theater.

Land (1991).  大地
Collaboration with Native American musician Robert Mirabal and painter Sandra Lerner. Robert and his cousin and drummer Laynold Lujan live in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, where Eiko & Koma conceived this work. Not only did Eiko & Koma visit Taos repeatedly but Mirabal also spent three months in Japan for this collaboration. After a work-in-progress showing at the Hiroshima Contemporary Art Museum, Land toured widely with live music. Eiko & Koma’s six-year old son Yuta performed. His younger brother Shin inherited the role in later tours. 75 min.

Wind (1993).  風
Collaboration with Chanticleer music director Joseph Jennings who arranged a composition by Robert Mirabal and Francisco Guerrero. Performed live by Chanticleer in San Francisco and specially recorded for tour.  Eiko & Koma’s two sons Yuta and Shin both played the role of a boy in the piece. The floor was painted to look like a galaxy and white feathers fell from the ceiling, making a sense of wind visible. 65 min.

River (1995).  川(野外作品)
Created in a mountain stream in the Catskills in collaboration with naturalist/visual artist Judd Weisberg, this outdoor work was performed in bodies of water at twilight in a series of free admission events. Around sunset, audience members gathered on the riverbank and saw Eiko & Koma drift from upstream to downstream.  River was presented by the Environmental Performance Network in collaboration with local environmental groups who helped Eiko & Koma choose a site and prepare it for performance.

Autumn Passage (1995).  秋の時の移り
At the 20th anniversary of their arrival in the U.S., Japan Society presented this evening that consisted of Husk (film), Distant, Tree, and Echo (Japan Society commissioned premiere). 70 min.

River proscenium version (1997).  川(舞台作品)
Eiko & Koma commissioned a noted Japanese composer, Somei Satoh, to make a music score that represented the flow of a river. Kronos Quartet performed live during all performances on tour and at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. 65 min.

Breath (1988).  息づかい
The Whitney Museum of American Art commissioned Eiko & Koma to make a living installation for which they hand-created an environment that filled the museum’s film and video gallery.  During the installation’s month-long presentation, either Eiko or Koma was always present, their nude bodies moving during all the hours the museum was open. Video of their bodies was shown as a part of the environment, which also included changing light. Many museum patrons unexpectedly experienced Eiko & Koma during this installation.

Pulse (1998).  鼓動
Commissioned by the Kennedy Center, this work takes place on a snowy, isolated landscape scattered with dried flowers and weeds. Performed in silence. 30 min.

The Caravan Project (1999).  キャラバンプロジェクト
Inspired by both their Whitney installation and libraries on wheels, Eiko & Koma created a small installation to perform in, housed within a custom-designed black trailer. The trailer traveled, hitched to their car, and at stopping points all four sides opened to reveal their performance. The Caravan Project was presented in busy urban plazas as well as in rural villages. 50 min.

Snow (1999).  雪
Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, this duet is performed in falling snow. 30 min.

When Nights Were Dark (2000). 夜が暗かったとき
The décor of The Caravan Project was hugely expanded for this work and placed on a slowly turning wheel. The set was hand-created during a residency on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center North Tower. Performed at BAM’s Next Wave Festival as well as touring sites, the set was manually turned 360 degrees during the piece’s 75 minutes. Because audience members saw different things at different times depending on where they were sitting, the work was a meditation on time and perspective. Joseph Jennings of Chanticleer created a haunting a cappella score performed live by five singers of the Praise Choir of Brooklyn. Chosen by Anna Kisselgoff as one of the ten best dances of 2000. 75 min.

Be With (2001).  共生
Commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Eiko & Koma collaborated with dance legend and long-time friend Anna Halprin with assistance from her husband and architect Lawrence Halprin. Former Kronos Quartet cellist Joan Jeanrenaud created her first composition and performed live. At Anna’s request, Eiko & Koma never danced together and the work consisted only of duets between Anna and Eiko or Anna and Koma, as well as one trio. 35 min

Offering (2002).  供養
Created in post 9/11 New York and co-produced by Dancing in the Streets, Eiko & Koma performed this outdoor work in seven city parks in Manhattan to publicly mourn the city’s loss. Offering toured widely in the U.S., in Baltic countries, and Poland. Clarinetist David Krakauer played his own composition live at Offering’s premiere near the World Trade Center site and also for the indoor version at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. 55 min.

Tree Song (2004).  樹の歌
Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, this outdoor work was often performed with a large tree as a backdrop. In New York, at the graveyard of St. Marks Church, Sharon Dennis Wyeth sung and pianist Georgia Wyeth played her own composition live. 50 min.

Duet (2004).  デユエット
Created for the occasion of the award ceremony where Eiko & Koma were honored with the 2004 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for
lifetime achievement in modern dance. The earlier version of this work was performed for the memorial of American Dance Festival co-director Stephanie Reinhart in 2003.

Death Poem (2005). 
死のうた
Co-commissioned by the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and Danspace Project, this dance is a meditation on dying.  Eiko dances a long solo on a futon under a mosquito net, accompanied by the sound of insects and cicadas.  Koma enters from another world and tries to bring Eiko back with him, but he leaves without her, as she is not yet ready to go.

Cambodian Stories: An Offering of Painting and Dance (2006).  カンボジア物語:絵と踊りの供養
In 2004, with help from the Asian Cultural Council and an invitation from Daravuth Ly, the director of the Reyum Institute for Arts and Culture in Phonm Penh, Eiko & Koma visited Cambodia for the first time. The following year they returned to Reyum to collaborate with Daravuth and his young students to create Cambodian Stories. Eiko & Koma choreographed for the members of the Reyum Painting Collective, ten boys and one girl, who were all trained as painters and had never danced before. Their live action painting was an important part of this interdisciplinary work. At each performance during the 2006 twelve-city U.S. tour and during the subsequent tour to Taiwan, the performers sold their paintings to help support the Reyum Art School. 80 min.

Cambodian Stories Revisited (2007).  カンボジア物語再考
With help from the American Dance Festival and the Asian Cultural Council, Charian and Peace, who played main roles in Cambodian Stories, came back to the U.S. to work with Eiko & Koma in the summer of 2007.  Presented as a free admission event in the graveyard of St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan’s East Village, this outdoor version of Cambodian Stories was restructured as a quartet to be performed by Peace and Charian with Eiko & Koma. The display of colorful paintings and Khmer tunes attracted more than 750 audience members nightly. Eiko & Koma joined Charian and Peace in their on-site painting. 55 min.

Quartet (2007).  カルテット
Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, Quartet was presented with Grain, Eiko & Koma’s 1983 piece performed for the first time by other performers—Charian and Peace. Set to Khmer funeral tunes, Quartet explored the tension between generations, old and new. 25 min.

Mourning (2007).  哀悼
A collaboration with pianist Margaret Leng Tan who played live works by John Cage and Somei Satoh. Mourning was commissioned by Japan Society in celebration of the Society’s centennial. 65 min.

Hunger (2008).  飢え
Co-commissioned by the Joyce Theater and the Walker Art Center, Hunger is an evening-length collaboration with Charian and Peace. The evening includes passages from Eiko & Koma’s Rust and Grain as well as Charian and Peace’s live painting. Gamelan musician Joko Sutrisno played live for the Joyce Theater and Walker Art Center engagements.

Raven (2009).  大鴉
Designed as the centerpiece of the three-year Retrospective Project, Raven is a radically scalable work. It can be performed in a theater, gallery, outdoors, or at any other special site, and its length is flexible depending on the context of the presentation. Raven combines the concept of Eiko & Koma’s 1991 Land with their recent interest in a scorched landscape. The smell from scorched and burned material is an important aspect of the work.

Water (2011).
Water is a site-specific performance work co-commissioned by Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and the Skirball Cultural Center, LA. It premiered in the iconic Paul Milstein reflection pool on Hearst Plaza in the summer of 2011. For the New York performances, Eiko & Koma's longtime friend and Native-American musician Robert Mirabal played his score live.

Fragile (2012).
Fragile, a collaborative event created and performed by Kronos Quartet and Eiko & Koma, had its premiere on  February 22-23, 2012 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, which commissioned the work. Fragile, a 4 hour durational performance, is a sister piece to Eiko & Koma's 2010 living installation Naked, commissioned by the Walker Art Center.

Flower Dance (2013).
A short duet created for performance at The Joyce Theater, Flower Dance explored the relationship between two lives. We use flowers to beautify our homes; we use flowers to mourn our lost.