Interview with the Artists of ODD (San Francisco series part 1)

Amelia O'Dowd forwarded inkboat's latest newsletter to me because she thought I would be interested in their collaboration with AXIS Dance Company. As usual she was spot on, and, she didn't even realize that Monkeyhouse is plotting out a festival called Against the Odds for spring 2011.

I truly enjoyed this interview form the newsletter. So I contacted Shinichi Iova-Koga and he graciously allowed me to republish it here. Thank you Shinichi! I am so glad that Molly Barrons introduced me to his work many years ago and as always I am so thankful that Amelia keeps inspiring me.

Joan Jeanrenaud and Shinichi Iova-Koga


Interview with the Artists of ODD
Shinichi Iova-Koga & Joan Jeanrenaud



ODD - Directed by Shinichi Iova-Koga | Music by Joan Jeanrenaud 

For the first time ever, inkBoat will share the stage with AXIS Dance Company. The resulting world-premiere collaboration, ODD, is a series of dances choreographed by inkBoat Artistic Director Shinichi Iova-Koga, with musical accompaniment by famed cellist/composer Joan Jeanrenaud (formerly of the Kronos Quartet) and musician/vocalist Dohee Lee. ODD is inspired by the paintings of Odd Nerdrum.

Shinichi how and why did you think of Odd Nerdrum’s paintings when you thought about this collaboration?
SIK: Odd Nerdrum's paintings have been of interest to me since the mid-90's, but it wasn't until recently that I considered creating a dance work directly inspired by them. As we have examined these works more thoroughly, I have been struck by the relationship of landscape and body. There are similarities in shape, but more than that, I am reminded of Alan Watts speaking of humans having the conceit of being separate from nature. And how can that be? How can anything be separate from nature? Even our most polluting factories are part of nature. Our species imagines itself as above nature because we can go into outer space or divert water across large distances. But these are technologies and technologies are simply an extension of ourselves and we are an extension of nature. I believe it is this attitude that we are separate from the natural world that has given rise to polluting factories and dis-regard for our planet.

Joan, have Nerdrums paintings been influential to you in composing the music?
JJ: Nerdrum's paintings have become the essence for creating the music in, 'ODD'. In working with Shinichi his constant referral to the paintings has imbued their spirit into the dance and music, leading me to discovering sounds, feelings, gestures or motives that resonate with the images. As well, I am influenced by Shinichi and his aesthetics along with the work of the AXIS and inkBoat dancers and musician Dohee Lee, who is contributing her vocal, electronic and percussion skills to the score. I hope to create a sonic environment that the dancers will occupy and find inspirational. I want to create an overall sense of the strangeness, beauty and stillness that I sense from the paintings and Shinichi's choreography.

Joan and Shinichi, what are some of your discoveries during the creation process?
SIK: Early in our working process, I felt that paintings are paintings and dance is dance. We can be inspired by the paintings, but we cannot dance them. But, because the paintings themselves are still, we've been incorporating stillness more consciously into the choreography. And this is almost a traditional Japanese dance/theater idea. Noh and Kabuki in particular utilize many still moments as emphasis. The forms are precisely sculpted and freezes are employed constantly. I feel that the "avant-garde" ideas always come back to tradition somehow.
Working with Joan has been a complete joy. As part of our process, Joan has created music for the paintings without seeing the dance, or created music for dance without seeing paintings. Each time, she manages to come up with something distinct and imbued with it's own character. And we let all these characters meet... the painting, the music and the dancers meet to create something that is a birth, a child that comes from all these sources and stands as it's own.

JJ: Shinichi has led me to continually discover the significance of silence or of a small gesture in music the complexity of a single sound, sustained or brief. He has opened my ears by opening my eyes!

ODC Theater, SF
Fri-Sat, November 5-6 @ 8pm & Sun, November 7 @ 3pm
ODC Theater, Tickets: $18 available through odcdance.org,
(415) 863-9834
*Stay tuned for a meet and greet the artists gathering
following the Sunday, Nov 7th matinee
Malonga Casquelourd Center, Oakland
Fri, November 12 @ 8pm (Target Family Night Performance);
All tickets $10
Sat, November 13 @ 8pm and Sun, November 14 @ 2pm 
Tickets $22/Seniors, Students & Persons with Disabilities $15 /
Youth under 14 years $10 available through brownpapertickets.com,

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