> Akiko Kitamura Cross Transit “vox soil” project Chofu City Sengawa Theater, 2018.3.28-30

Akiko Kitamura Cross Transit “vox soil” project
Chofu City Sengawa Theater, 2018.3.28-30

Written by Chie Sumiyoshi|2018.9.25

photo: Hiroyasu Daido


Over the past ten-odd years, choreographer/dancer Akiko Kitamura has been leading a variety of projects in several Asian countries. She launched the collaborative international dance project “Cross Transit” in 2015 subsequent to her research in countries across Asia, where she encountered likeminded artists from Cambodia, Burma, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal. Following works realized in Indonesia and Cambodia, this time it was the overwhelming combination of power and pathos in the Indian traditional “Lai Haraoba” festival music she encountered in Manipur that fascinated and inspired Kitamura to invite musician Mayanglambam Mangangsana as a dramaturge for her newest piece. This new, further developed version of ”vox soil,” which I witnessed last spring at Sengawa Theater, will be unveiled at Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) in October. The title is supposed to express the idea of voices and rhythms beating in sync like the pulse of the earth itself.

photo: Hiroyasu Daido

Alternately appearing on the stage are a total of seven dancers (including Kitamura) with cultural roots in different Asian countries.    The body language of their dance, responding to the vocal and instrumental performances of Mangangsanaand Yoshie Abe (from the group Kodo), is choreographed based on a profound understanding of the “Asian physique,” and revolves around movements of stomping, beating or kneading the ground – at times reminiscent of ritual or martial arts. In concert with the fast and forceful rhythms and sonorous singing, these body movements come across fierce and eloquent, but the performance eventually rings out in a kind of silence that feels rather reticent, and as abstract as flowing water.

photo: Hiroyasu Daido


Several scenes feature two dancers entwined like two living beings that figure out the distance between them while testing each other’s breath, and closing the gap between them without eye contact. Their communication is reminiscent of the behavior of wild animals trying to tame each other. In the second half, Kitamura and Abe appear in a scene that could best be described as a “fight” charged with the calm and composed excitement of a duel performed with cold, pointed knives. The piece’s climax and highlight is defined by what I would call a “group portrait” much rather than a group dance by all performers, revealing a multilingual cobweb of “connections” spread out in all directions in order to live. Secretly contained within it are whispered hints at a certain “answer” that Kimura found in her research in Asia, according to which she defines dance as “an act of connecting through the ground beneath our feet, and beyond ethnical, national and linguistic differences.”


photo: Hiroyasu Daido


In recent years, countries across Asia have been walking in step in political and economical terms, and continue to play an important role in the international community. Also culturally, exchange is progressing from a modern point of view, however the aim is not homogenization. What is supposed to be created here is a tapestry embellished with cultural roots that are inherited through regional music and physical behavior, a fusion that is multilayered yet at once structured like an air-permeable net. This is one ambitious work that illustrates Akiko Kitamura’s own vision of the “future of Asia.”

Translated by Andreas Stuhlmann


The Asian International Collaborative Project: Cross Transit "vox soil"

28th - 30th March, 2018
Chofu City Sengawa Theater
Choreographer / Dancer: Akiko Kitamura

Cross Transit "vox soil" -new ver.-
12th-14th October 2018
Kanagawa Arts Theatre

20th October 2018
Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre


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住吉智恵 Chie Sumiyoshi

Born in Tokyo. Graduated Keio University Faculty of Literature, Department of Philosophy, aesthetics and art history major. Since 1990s, She has been at the forefront of the Japanese art scene as a writer / art journalist / art producer. 2003 spring, launched an art bar TRAUMARIS in Roppongi, was moved to Ebisu NADiff building, as an alternative space TRAUMARIS where art exhibitions, live performances, food and drink can be enjoyed. After closed the space, is currently involved in various art activities beyond the boundaries of the genre as an art producer. A jury for Yokohama Dance Collection’s competition from 2011 to 2016. A producer of Dance and Nursery!! Project since 2016. Established RealJapan project as a co-director. http://www.traumaris.jp   Photo by Mari Katayama