Kota Yamazaki

In 1977, Yamazaki was introduced to butoh through the teaching of Akira Kasai; then in 1981 started studying classical ballet under the late Hirofumi in Inoue. He graduated from Bunka Fashion College with BA in Fashion Design.

In 1989, Yamazaki was invited to work with Daniel Larrieu at CNDC in Angers, France; then became a finalist in The Platform of Bognolet Competition in France in 1994. He was invited to join in the TAP (Triangle Arts Program) artist exchange program in 1997. Since Yamazaki established his Tokyo-based company, rosy co. in 1996, the company was invited to perform national and international festivals and theaters including Bunkamura Theater Cocoon (Tokyo), New National Theater (Tokyo), Indonesian Dance Festival, The Place Theater (London), Biennale Nationale de Danse Val-de Marine (France), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Buena Center for the Arts, and Yorkshire Dance Festival. With the invitation from Germaine Acogny to create a new work for Senegal-based company Jant-bi, Yamazaki decided to close rosy co. in 2001, and left Japan.

At the six-time residencies in Senegal during 2001-2004, Yamazaki created a new work, FAGAALA, in collaboration with Germaine Acogny, for her company Jant-bi. FAGAALA was presented around the world for 4 years since its sensational premiere. In 2007, Yamazaki received the New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie Award) for its choreography with Germaine Acogny.

At the same time, Yamazaki moved his base to New York, and started creating new works with NY-based troupe, Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug. The company has performed national and international venues including Melbourne International Arts Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, PICA/TBA Festival, FIAF/Crossing Line, Bates Dance Festival, Danspace Project, ASU Gammage, NUS for the Arts (Singapore), Globalize: Cologne (Germany), 92Y Harkness Dance Festival, Painted Bride Art Center, Andy Warhol Museum, The Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago and Japan Society. Yamazaki also has created choreographic works for national and international dance companies, theater companies and students at universities.

During these years, Yamazaki has taught at Bennington College, Barnard College at Columbia University, Arizona State University, National University of Arts in Korea, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tokyo Zoukei University, Kinki University, Earthdance, CAVE, Vangeline Theater, Movement Research Festival among many other national and international universities, festivals and institutions.

His projects have been supported by Japan Foundation, New England Foundation’s National Dance Project, Asian Cultural Council, The Saison Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Harkness Foundation for Dance.

In 2013, Yamazaki received the FCA award (the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant Award) for his artistic achievements in New York, and is a recipient of NYFA Fellowship of 2016. He has been serving as Director for Body Arts Laboratory in Tokyo since 2009, and organizes Whenever Wherever Festival.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | March 14-30, 2019

Darkness Odyssey Part 3: Non-Opera, Becoming

Japanese artist Kota Yamazaki, who divides his time between Tokyo, Japan, and New York City, returned to MANCC for his second of three residencies to develop the final piece in his Darkness Odyssey trilogy. The work combines Eastern and Western philosophies from modernist French thinkers, Deleuze and Guattari, to butoh pioneer, Tatsumi Hijikata. Combining these seemingly disparate lineages, Yamazaki imagines the body as a black hole, with the ability to absorb everything it encounters.

Yamazaki first came to MANCC in November 2017 to develop Part 2: I or Hallucination from the same trilogy. Part 2 laid the groundwork for Part 3 by considering the porousness of bodies (fragile and vaporous) and the ability to reflect our ever-changing inner landscapes while exploring our interconnected universe. During the previous residency, Yamazaki had the opportunity to meet with Robert O. Lawton Professor of English, Dr. Stanley Gontarski, and Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, Professor Lynda Jones. Part 2 went on to premiere to critical acclaim at Baryshnikov Art Center in New York City the following month, and was nominated for the 2018 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production. Tom Phillips of the Danceview Times called the work “a riveting hour-plus of pure theater.” Dance Magazine’s Wendy Perron listed Darkness Odyssey: Part 2, I or Hallucination among her Top Picks for Best Choreography of 2017, saying that it “…put a spell on the audience.”

Part 3, Non-Opera, Becoming features a team of international dancers with diverse backgrounds including Japanese dancer, Taketeru Kudo, one of the few remaining butoh performers to have trained directly with Hijikata, and African dancer Alain Sinandja Tongo from Togo. Among Kota’s other collaborators are New York-based  performers Jennifer Gonzalez, Joanna Kotze, Mina Nishimura,  and Connor Voss, whose experiences and practices span a wide range.

Inspired by these performers, who organically carry the forms of dance they perform, Yamazaki aims to blur the distinction between these dance forms by boiling them down to their most fundamental essence. Yamazaki hopes to address how each dancer deals with self-identity as a performer. He asks, “how can a performer shift his/her identity by internalizing something foreign,” as he also looks at his recent interest in defining co-existence.

As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, artist, curator, and archivist Cori Olinghouse joined Yamazaki and his collaborators for two days. This time offered an opportunity for Olinghouse to deepen her relationship as a writer to Yamazaki’s work; Olinghouse previously wrote on the first part of the trilogy, Part 2: I or Hallucination while Yamazaki was in residency at at the Baryshnikov Art Center in 2017. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.

Additionally, during his time at MANCC, Yamazaki had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Kristina Buhrman, Assistant Professor of Religion at FSU, whose research focuses on Japanese religions, specifically during the pre-modern period (before 1600). Further, Yamazaki and his collaborators hosted a work-in-progress showing during Assistant Professor Gwen Welliver’s Senior Capstone class in the School of Dance. Additional attendees included Professor Douglas Corbin’s Rhythmic Analysis course and Dr. Jen Atkins’s Dance Practices of the Global Gulf research seminar.

This residency, including the Embedded Writers Initiative, was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Jennifer Gonzalez, Shinandja Dakonyeme and Joanna Kotze
  • Jennifer Gonzalez and Mina Nishimura
  • Joanna Kotze and Jennifer Gonzalez
  • Kota Yamazaki and cast of <i>Darkness Odyssey Part 3</i>
  • Mina Nishimura and Connor Voss
  • Jennifer Gonzalez and Taketeru Kudo
  • Gonzalez and Taketeru Kudo
  • Cast of <i>Darkness Odyssey Part 3</i>
  • Mina Nishimura and Kota Yamazaki
  • Gonzalez and Dakonyeme
  • Voss and Gonzalez
  • Yamazak and lighting designer Thomas Dunn
  • Writer in residence Cori Olinghouse
  • Yamazaki and Nishimura meet with Professor of Religion, Kristina Buhrman
  • In-costume run-through of <i>Darkness Odyssey Part 3</i>
  • Mina Nishimura and Joanna Kotze
  • Mina Nishimura and Jennifer Gonzalez
  • Shinandja Dakonyeme
  • Connor Voss and Shinandja Dakonyeme
  • Dakonyeme Nishimura and Gonzalez
  • Shinandja Dakonyeme and Kota Yamazaki
  • Showing for FSU and Tallahassee community
  • Kotze and Dakonyeme perform during showing
  • Cast of <i>Darkness Odyssey Part 3</i> perform during showing
  • Yamazaki and Kotze
  • Kotze and Nishimura
  • Cast of <i>Darkness Odyssey Part 3</i> perform during showing
  • Nishimura and Dakonyeme
  • Joanna Kotze and Taketeru Kudo

Collaboarators in Residence: Mina Nishimura, Joanna Kotze, Jennifer Gonzalez, Taketeru Kudo, Shinandja Dakonyeme, Connor Voss [Performers], Thomas Dunn [Lighting Designer], Cori Olinghouse [Writer]

Visiting Artist | November 9 - 22, 2017

Darkness Odyssey Part 2: I or Hallucination

Japanese artist Kota Yamazaki came to MANCC to develop Part 2 of his Darkness Odyssey series, which is inspired by the work of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and butoh pioneer Tatsumi Hijikata’s “dance of darkness.” The series explores the idea of the body as a black hole, absorbing equally everything it encounters, even that which is seemingly unrelated.

Darkness Odyssey Part 2: I or Hallucination, considers the fragile, vaporous body and reflects on our ever-changing inner landscapes, while exploring a fragmented, yet interconnected universe. Inspired by stories and images of Goze women (visually-impaired Japanese women who historically worked as musicians in North-East region of Japan), the work also explores a space of hallucination, in which the body experiences a heightened state of sensation.

While at MANCC, Yamazaki finalized a scenic design that involved covering the entire stage floor in reflective silver material. Master lighting designer Thomas Dunn developed a lighting plot that plays with this reflective floor surface and enhances the vaporous movement quality of the dancers.

During the residency Yamazaki met with two FSU scholars. Dr. Stanley Gontarski, the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, who has written extensively on modernist philosophy, spoke with Yamazaki to further develop his interpretation of Deleuze’s writings. Lynda Jones, CVRT and former coordinator for the Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Specialization at FSU, spoke to Yamazaki about her lived experience of blindness. The residency concluded with an informal work-in-progress showing that was open to the public and attended by students and faculty of the FSU School of Dance and MANCC’s namesake benefactor, Maggie Allesee.

As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Yamazaki and his collaborators were joined by Moriah Evans. This initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms in dance and performance. Evans, a dance maker herself, is the Editor-in-Chief of Movement Research’s Performance Journal, a printed forum created for and by artists that engages current issues of dance and performance.

This residency was funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Darkness Odyssey Part 2: I or Hallucination premiered at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on December 13-15, 2017.

  • Assistant to choreographer Mina Nishimura and performer Raja Kelly in rehearsal with Kota Yamazaki
  • Nishimura and Kelly
  • Choreographer Kota Yamazaki rehearses with dancers
  • Yamazaki and Nishimura meet with Lynda Jones, CVRT
  • Yamazaki and Nishimura meet with Professor of English Dr. Stanley Gontarski
  • Yamazaki rehearses with Kelly while composer Kenta Nagai watches on
  • Mina Nishimura
  • Nishimura and performer Joanna Kotze
  • Nishimura and Kelly
  • Moriah Evans observes in the studio as a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative
  • Nagai and lighting designer  Thomas Dunn watch rehearsal in the Black Box
  • Yamazaki's performers rehearse in the Black Box
  • Performers dancing during work-in-progress showing
  • Joanna Kotze, Mina Nishimura and Julian Barnett rehearse with Kota Yamazaki
  • Nishimura
  • Kotze, Raja Kelly and Nishimura
  • Barnett and Kotze
  • Nishimura
  • Kotze
  • Raja Kelly
  • Nishimura
  • Nishimura and Kelly
  • Rehearsal for <em>Darkness Odyssey Part 2</em>
  • Rehearsal for <em>Darkness Odyssey Part 2</em>
  • Rehearsal for <em>Darkness Odyssey Part 2</em>
  • Rehearsal for <em>Darkness Odyssey Part 2</em>
Collaborators in Residence: Kota Yamazaki [Choreographer], Mina Nishimura [Assistant to Choreographer/ Performer], Raja Kelly [Performer], Julian Barnett [Performer], Joanna Kotze [Performer], Kenta Nagai [Composer], Thomas Dunn [Lighting Designer] and Moriah Evans [Writer]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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