Benjamin Akio Kimitch

Benjamin Akio Kimitch is a dance artist and producer living in Brooklyn, NY. His artistic work is deeply influenced by his mixed-race Japanese American heritage and childhood training in Chinese dance. Currently, Benjamin is a 2019-2021 Movement Research artist-in-residence as well as the program director and associate curator of Danspace Project. Benjamin’s 2017 Bessie-Award nominated work Ko-bu premiered at Danspace Project and was later reimagined for the Noguchi Museum. In 2015, he was a Dance and Process artist at The Kitchen. Kimitch holds a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch and studied basic training at Shanghai Theater Academy School of Chinese Opera. From 2015-2020, Benjamin was the senior producer at Performance Space New York/PS122. He previously worked on the artistic programming teams at the Park Avenue Armory, New York Live Arts, and Dance Theater Workshop. Kimitch’s next commissioned dance work will premiere at The Shed in 2022.

Visiting Artist | October 24 - November 4, 2021

Tiger Hands

New York based dance artist and producer Benjamin Akio Kimitch came to MANCC for the first time to begin early development on Tiger Hands. As a mixed-race Japanese American choreographer whose studies began in Chinese dance, Kimitch asks how his curiosities and sensibilities can honor the choreographies, social meaning, and artistic developments within non-Western forms in a 21st-century work. Thinking beyond the worn-out mantra of East-meets-West, Kimitch set out to open the histories of his artistic influences and challenge the western conventions already embedded in the modernist developments of traditional Chinese dance and opera. Here, he finds a tension between the impulse for authentic, diasporic representation and the positioning of traditional forms. His background in Chinese opera dance serves as a starting point for this work, in part because of its core influence in the development of Chinese classical dance in the 20th century, to reimagine contemporary choreography and de-center western values.

While in residence, Kimitch worked with dramaturg Jeffrey Gan and performers Pareena Lim, Julie McMillan, and Lai Yi Ohlsen to develop movement vocabulary from Kimitch’s own training history and from personal footage, including masculine-form Peking Opera exercises and use of traditional props. As new collaborators, some of whom were meeting in person for the first time, the group used the residency to build community, and to share work culture and values. These relationships, which include a broad representation of Asian diaspora experiences, enriched a process anchored by a single cultural form. It was further influenced by social time, meals, and each artist’s life outside of dance. Kimitch and Gan held an open discussion with FSU students about their time in residence, in which they spoke on the nuance of teaching and transforming codified technique, the use of props in Kimitch’s work, and the way in which tradition interacts with the contemporary.

Kimitch’s work is commissioned by and set to premiere at The Shed, NYC as part of Open Call in 2022.

  • Pareena Lim and Benjamin Akio Kimitch
  • Kimitch, Lim, and Lai Yi Ohlsen
  • Ohlsen, Lim, and Kimitch
  • Kimitch, Ohlsen, and Lim
  • Lai Yi Ohlsen
  • Lai Yi Ohlsen
  • Pareena Lim
  • Lai Yi Ohlsen
  • Ohlsen, Julie McMillan, Lim, and Kimitch
  • Kimitch, Lim, McMillan, and Ohlsen
  • Olsen, Jeffrey Gan, and McMillan
  • Gan, Lim, and Kimitch (center) speaking with FSU School of Dance faculty and students
  • Gan, Lim, and Kimitch
  • Benjamin Akio Kimitch, Julie McMillan, Lai Yi Ohlsen, and Pareena Lim
  • Jeffrey Gan , Lim, Ohlsen, McMillan, and Kimitch
  • Lim, Ohlsen, and Kimitch
  • Kimitch, McMillan, and Ohlsen
  • Ohlsen and Kimitch
  • Lim, Ohlsen, McMillan, and Kimitch
  • Ohlsen, Kimitch, and Lim
  • McMillan, Ohlsen, Kimitch, Gan, and Lim
  • Lim, Gan, Kimitch, Ohlsen, and McMillan
  • Kimitch, Ohlsen, and McMillan

Collaborators in Residence: Pareena Lim, Julie McMillan Castellano, and Lai Yi Ohlsen [Performers], Jeffrey Gan [Dramaturg]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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