Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /nfs/c08/h02/mnt/117080/domains/eikoandkoma.org/html/includes/configure.php on line 34
Up to their necks in dance: Eiko and Koma offer the premiere of 'Water' at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors | Eiko + Koma
Up to their necks in dance: Eiko and Koma offer the premiere of 'Water' at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors
photo by Anna Lee Campbell

Up to their necks in dance: Eiko and Koma offer the premiere of 'Water' at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors

  • The Star-Ledger, July 23, 2011
  • Robert Johsnson

NEW YORK—Water flows down rivers and streams. It pools in lowlands, falls from the sky and crashes against shores. Yet water is not some mysterious, alien force. It is intimately familiar to us. As dancers Eiko and Koma point out, "Water is in our bodies … and our tears."

"Water" is also the title of the premiere commissioned by the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival, which Eiko and Koma will perform in the reflecting pool in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Like the related exhibition, "Residue," at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the premiere of "Water" marks the 40th anniversary of their collaboration.

These singular artists, who are married, have worked in the United States since 1976, perfecting an organic brand of contemporary dance that they call "delicious movement." Their dancing is exquisitely slow, like a shadow creeping across the floor or a body shifting in sleep. Eiko and Koma’s subjects are time, evolution and humanity’s relationship to the natural world.
Where: Paul Milstein Pool, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 63rd St. and Columbus Ave., New York
When: Wednesday to July 31 at 9:30 p.m.
How much: Free; visit lcoutofdoors.org.

Where: Vincent Astor Gallery, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, 111 Amsterdam Ave. between 64th and 65th streets, New York
When: Through Oct. 6
How much: Free; visit nypl.org or eikoandkoma.org.

Their musical collaborator for "Water," Native American composer Robert Mirabal, first worked with them on a dance called "Land," which depicted the geological and spiritual history of the New Mexican landscape.

"Usually the world Koma and I want to create is rather ancient," Eiko says.

"Water" addresses an element that can be threatening, but also is essential to life. "It could be very violent, but never malicious," Eiko says, referring to the tsunamis in her native Japan.

Human activity is less benign, although when we pollute, Eiko says, "Water is a mirror. It’s a reflection. Clearly we see what we do."

Although Eiko and Koma have taken dips in earlier dances ("River," "Elegy"), most of their dances unfold within environments that they create from materials such as feathers, silk and rice paste. Dancing in the water offers special challenges such as the uncontrollable lights and sounds that fill the Lincoln Center Plaza.

Eiko says distractions do not worry her. This peaceful style of dancing allows the viewer to relax and take in the scene, without missing a dramatic event. "It’s totally okay for people’s minds to wander, knowing they can come back to us," Eiko says. "We have to find time to be elusive, rather than always gripping the edge."

The "Residue" exhibition centers around a "tea house" constructed in the gallery, recycling materials from Eiko and Koma’s living installation "Naked," which was presented in March and April at the Baryshnikov Art Center. Inside the tea house, visitors can watch a new video in which "the theme of ‘Naked’ is projected into water," Eiko says.

Elsewhere in the gallery, costumes and scenery document their production history. A video of "Event Fission," from 1980, shows another site-specific piece in which the couple performed on a sand dune beneath the World Trade Center; additional videos mounted within pedestals recall such ineffable works as "Grain" and "Wind."

The library will offer related public programs on July 28 and Oct. 6.

Robert Johnson: rjohnson@starledger.com