Over a century after the height of European trends such as chinoiserie and japonisme, Euro-Americans still copy and commodify many elements of Asian culture, including a range of styles of Asian dance and movement systems. From this framework of commodification, how can Asian American artists reimagine Asian performance forms without falling into the gaze of racial stereotype and caricature?
New York based dance artist and producer Benjamin Akio Kimitch will come to MANCC for the first time to develop a new, currently untitled project, primed to tackle this question. As a mixed-race Japanese American choreographer whose studies began in Chinese dance, Kimitch asks how his curiosities and sensibilities can honor the choreographies, social meaning and artistic developments within non-Western forms in a 21st-century work. By rejecting mainstream stereotypes of East-meets-West, Kimitch will open the histories of his artistic influences and recast perceived traditions in Chinese dance and opera as modern, innovative art forms, separate from Western conventions. His background in Chinese opera movement will be a starting point for this work, in part because of its core influence in the development of Chinese classical dance in the 20th century, to reimagine contemporary choreography and de-center western hierarchies.
Kimitch will bring three dancers to MANCC including Pareena Lim, Julie McMillan, and Lai Yi Ohlsen, and a dramaturg, Jeffrey Gan. The work is set to premiere at The Shed in spring 2022.