Executive Director of Communications
EIKO & KOMA CHOREOGRAPH NEW WORK FOR QUEENS COLLEGE
-- Dance Students Will Perform “Moonlight” December 9-12 --
FLUSHING, NY, November 19, 2004—Globetrotting is a basic part of Eiko & Koma’s repertoire; in just the past year, the internationally acclaimed husband-and-wife dance company has performed in Poland, Switzerland, and Colombia. But the couple’s latest assignment is keeping them much closer to their Manhattan base. They’ve been spending Monday afternoons at Queens College refining “Moonlight,” their first work for undergraduate and graduate dance students. The piece will have its debut during “Queens Stories,” a program being presented at the campus’s Goldstein Theatre December 9-12. The concert will also include choreography by Yin Mei, associate professor of dance at Queens College, and Carolyn Webb, an adjunct professor.
Rehearsals for “Queens Stories” began in mid-September. All Queens College dance students were invited to participate without auditioning and without being trained in Eiko & Koma’s distinctive modern idiom. “Students have busy lives,” explains Eiko. “I didn’t want to make it difficult. It’s an experiment for us and them.”
The Japanese-born duo, whose work has been described by critics as “primal,” “powerful” and “minimalist,” have garnered many awards since arriving in the U.S. from Japan in 1976. These include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, a Mac Arthur Foundation fellowship (commonly called the “genius” award), and in June of this year, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award honoring lifetime achievement in contemporary dance.
The project has already made a deep impression on the 17 students who managed to fit weekly three-hour practices into schedules crammed with classes and part-time jobs. “I’m drawn to abstract work,” says graduate student Christina Caputo. “It’s all about what you feel.” It’s also about rethinking the art form’s conventions. “We don’t dance,” observes third-year student Coreen Robledo. “We move.”
Many of those moves are developed through improvisation, as the eager participants—prompted by images suggested by Eiko—interact with their space, with each other, and with props ranging from futons to mosquito netting. The experience covers other aspects of stagecraft, too; students discuss costuming and take turns holding portable lighting, to appreciate its effects on dancers’ bodies.
Yin Mei—a 2004 Guggenheim recipient who has shared billing with Eiko & Koma—was able to bring these innovative educators on campus because she had the support of Tamara Evans, dean of arts and humanities, and Susan Einhorn, chair of the department of drama, theatre, and dance. “I’m so grateful,” says Yin. “Eiko & Koma are pioneers and wonderful artists. It’s mind-opening for the students, who get to learn about the magic of the theater, whether or not they become professional dancers.”
“Queens Stories” will be performed at 8 pm from Thursday, December 9 through Saturday, December 11. There will be a 3 pm matinee on Sunday, December 12. Tickets are $13/$10 for senior citizens. Box Office: (718) 997-2788. For directions to the Queens College campus, please visit: www.qc.cuny.edu/directions