As guest editor, Eiko sits down with NYC-ARTS to discuss Two Women and the process of performing a duet with another woman instead of her collaborator and husband, Koma, and gives us a taste of what she’s looking forward to in River To River 2014.
Eiko: When Sam Miller, the producer of the retrospective project and the director of LMCC, invited me to perform in the River To River Festival, I felt I was not ready to perform a solo. Thus I thought of creating a female duet as a process toward creating my solo project. I asked Tomoe Aihara, a friend from Japan, to help. I wanted to examine what it is to choreograph on another female body and how I myself could use the movement material I developed on her. I was also interested in the fact that our ages are such that she could be my daughter. Two Women is thus an intergenerational communication.
What themes or movement challenges did you work with in creating Two Women?
Eiko: The challenge has been communication on every level. With Koma we often know what the other would do or thinks. With a new collaborator, I need to talk, show and comment. I cannot yet feel or sense her movement in the same way as I do with Koma and will never gain that level of camaraderie. I have to make all the decisions and, in terms of decision making, I have to admit that I change my mind often, which makes it hard for another dancer. I also struggle with articulating and sharing the reasons behind my certain desires, such as why and how I want to lie flat on the cold, dusty, concrete floor.
Another challenge has been that I have had limited time to work with Tomoe because she lives in Tokyo and I in New York. In order to create a duet, I had to work alone between our times together. So in addition to my conceiving a duet as a process for creating a solo work, the very process of creating the duet has been undertaken largely alone, jump-starting the solo project. As a result, I regard this duet as a way to nurture solitude, which is not what one would think when creating a duet.
I believe this experience of dancing a female duet will affect how I deal with/consider/remember/imagine time and space in my future solo project.
The most important concept I try to share, however, is how dance is an exploration not an expression. I do not engage in unison movement or symmetry in choreography. And certain details have the same weight as the whole.