From the SF Performance of
"When Dreams Are Interrupted..."
EVOKES STARK MEMORIES OF WWII INTERNMENT EXPERIENCE OF BAY AREA JAPANESE-AMERICANS THROUGH DANCE, MUSIC, ART & SPOKEN WORD
World Premiere is in Berkeley on October 9,10, and 11, 2009
Download Press Release (PDF)
About the Performance
When I (Jill Togawa) moved to South Berkeley two years ago, I discovered the vibrant Japanese community that lived here before the internment and in a chance meeting, learned about the Nakazawa family who had lived on the property where I now live. I also learned that people of color could only buy or rent homes in this part of Berkeley for many years.
I saw that there were still traces of this community around me in two Japanese churches, several gardens, and some of the current residents. As I heard more stories of this community I became inspired to create a work that would pay tribute to their personal stories incorporated into dance, music, and visual art.
I see a need to make the Japanese community more visible in the context of Berkeley history. Through these stories we may better understand how our lives are often invisibly connected, just as I felt that, somehow, the Nakazawas paved the way for me to arrive with my family more than 60 years later.
Jill Togawa, artistic director, is an accomplished dancer and choreographer whose career spans more than 30 years. She has added to her Western dance training (B.A. in dance from the University of Hawai’i) by studying traditional Japanese, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, and Hawaiian dance. She has worked with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York, Asian American Dance Performances, Virginia Matthews Dance Company and numerous other choreographers in San Francisco. Togawa has received three California Arts Council residencies, an individual artist commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission and a residency from the Gaea Foundation. In 1992, she founded Purple Moon Dance Project (PMDP) and as its artistic director her work has been presented in Hawai'i, New York, throughout California and the northwest, New Mexico, Michigan, Indiana, Vancouver, BC and Beijing. The New York Times has called her work “radiant;” the Los Angeles Times describes it as “diversity made physical;” and Togawa has been honored by the Commission on the Status of Women for her commitment to community building. Togawa is the choreographer of “When Dreams Are Interrupted….”
Ellen Bepp, collaborating artist, is a visual and textile artist, as well as principal taiko (Japanese drum) performer with Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble. She has studied at the Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in Berkeley as well as art and textiles in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Japan. She has previously collaborated with Togawa and PMDP in recent productions TransMissions (2006) and Mahina (2007). Exhibitions, collaborations, and commissions include (among others) “Issho/Together: Japanese American/Japanese National Artists in America 1941-Present,” Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2004); and “Ghosts of Little Boy, Artists for Peace,” National Japanese American Historical Society Peace Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2005). Bepp created the visual arts installations for of “When Dreams Are Interrupted….”
Principal/Guest Artists (Dancers): Michelle Fletcher has an M.F.A. from Florida State University and has danced for Dan Wagoner, Gerri Houlihan, and Benoit Pouffer. Ruth Ichinaga, 72, has done ongoing work with Terry Sengraff for more than 5 years, as well as improvisational work, and studies and plays taiko.Arisika Razak is an African-American performance artist who has performed nationally and internationally as a solo dancer, choreographer, guest lecturer, and workshop leader, with work featured in the films A Place of Rage and Fire Eyes. Sharon Sato studied Music at the University of Oregon and has performed with the Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians and with Theatre Artaud.
Musicians: Claudia Cuentas is a multi-instrumentalist, bilingual storyteller, youth educator and performing artist with Samavesh. She studied at the National Music Conservatory of Lima, Peru, the Tamalpa Institute and the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She has performed in several projects with renowned Bay Area artists such as Anna Halprin, Soto Hoffman, Barbara Borden, Lucia Comnes and Lulacruza. Her musical approach is a somatic experience, where movement, sound and story are interconnected. She currently works with immigrant women, children and families in San Francisco and East Bay communities using music, theater and drama therapy to teach diversity and wellness.
Laura Inserra is a multi-instrumentalist, performer, composer and teacher from Sicily. Her style is a fusion of different musical genres from the classical to the electronic. “My vision is to unite in one time and space different art expressions and to create an occasion for both performers and audience to immerse themselves in that which is being created. Samavesha is the current manifestation of this understanding. Samavesha is a sanskrit word for divine union, perfect merging of consciousness. The word holds a double meaning/power: to immerse yourself in something and already to be immersed in it.”