IzumonookunI (2024)

Image by Nikki Lee

Aretha Aoki and Ryan MacDonald

IzumonookunI is a multidisciplinary dance inspired by Izumo no Okuni, 16th century female
founder of the Japanese dance-drama form, kabuki—a form that currently contains little trace
of its female-centric, grassroots, counter-cultural origins. Choreographer Aretha Aoki and sound
and visual designer Ryan MacDonald are re-imagining Okuni as a punk/synthwave/glam-goth
figure. Aoki plays the role of Okuni in a mythical and reimagined form; MacDonald provides a
live soundscape of synth loops and beats, and both covered and original songs. Moving
between live music with Aoki at the mic—drawing from a range of glam/synthwave influences
such as David Bowie, Gary Numan, and Siouxie Sioux—live taiko drumming, and hyper-stylized
experimental dance choreography and improvisation, IzumokookunI aims to reclaim the lost
femme origins of Kabuki, collapse reductive binaries, and allow audiences to make new
connections between seemingly disparate forms.

IzumonookunI (excerpt) and Wind in the Pines (video excerpt)
School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT)
November 11-13, 2022

IzumonookunI (excerpt)
Bates Dance Festival
Shared show with Shura Baryshnikov and Adrienne Taylor
July 22, 2022 at 7:30

IzumonookunI (work-in-progress, excerpt)
estrogenius festival, Frigid NYC
Kraine Theater (NYC), March 26, 2022 at 7 pm

IzumonookunI (work-in-progress, excerpt)
New England Now Dance Platform
Institute for Contemporary Art (Boston, MA)
March 18-20, 2022 at 8 pm

IzumonookunI (work-in-progress) and Wind in the Pines (video and live excerpt) 2020
Arts Alive at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, Feb. 12th, 2022 at 7:30 pm

Thank you to Heather Kravas, whose rigorous investigations of repetition inspired the choreographic looping in the final section. 

We are deeply grateful to Shoni Currier, Allie James and the entire BDF staff, Cathy Nicoli, Stephanie Turner, Maura Donohue, and the RDDI New England cohort and NEFA staff for supporting this project.  

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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