Visiting Artist | October 24 - November 4, 2021
New York based dance artist and producer Benjamin Akio Kimitch came to MANCC for the first time to begin early development on a new, currently untitled project. 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.
Collaborators in Residence: Pareena Lim, Julie McMillan, and Lai Yi Ohlsen [Performers], Jeffrey Gan [Dramaturg]