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International collaborations crossing the traditions, folklore, culture and way of life in different regions, and paving the way towards future physicality Southeast Asia/South Asia/Central Asia/Ireland/Japan

Arts Council Tokyo Grant Program: Activity Report of Creation Grant [Long Term] -Session 16

Since 2013, Arts Council Tokyo has been running Creation Grant [Long Term] providing up to three years of support for long-term artistic projects. For the 16th talk session with a past grant recipient, we introduce two international collaborative projects by Office ALB which each received a three-year grant: “Cross Transit” (2015) and “Echoes of Calling” (2020).

For both grant projects, Office ALB spent time in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Ireland, carrying out research on the art, culture, and history of countries in each region including classical dance, music, and martial arts, and collaborating with local artists in each area. It then worked on the creation of performance pieces designed to expand the physical expression of the art of dance from the social background and cultural perspective of each country.

For “Cross Transit,” project members visited Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and India, engaging in the creation of works together with Cambodian classical dancers, contemporary dancers, video/filmmakers, and Indian musicians encountered during the research process, and building relationships with artists from different genres across Asia. In the final grant year of 2018, Indonesian dancers also got involved for the concluding collaborative work of the three-year project.

For “Echoes of Calling,” project organizers further expanded target countries for collaboration to include Uzbekistan and Ireland, engaging in projects to create dialog and collaboration-driven works with leading figures from cultures rooted in local life. Project members researched prayer, song, and dance from disappearing oral traditions including Bakshi storytellers from Uzbekistan and sean nós traditional Irish singing as well as animism and shamanism. By confronting different cultures through dance, organizers expanded on an approach to international collaboration by intersecting traditional culture with modern themes and methods of expression.

In this Activity Report talk session, Office ALB will discuss innovative and creative research activities for its two international collaborations, the creative process, the outcomes involved and development of the projects.

Grant recipient
Office ALB

Akiko Kitamura (dancer/choreographer/Office ALB leader)
Keiichi Hayashi (producer)

Japanese Sign Language interpreters 
Yuko Kato
Tariho Maruyama

Ritsuko Mizuno (Senior Program Officer, Grants Division, Planning Department, Arts Council Tokyo)

*Please note photographs and sound recordings of this session will be taken for the purpose of the organizer’s publicity and records and will be made available on the Arts Council Tokyo website at a later date.
*Assistive technology support is available in the form of sign language interpreting and the speech-to-text app UD Talk.

Outline of activities under grant

“Cross Transit” (3-year grant from 2015)

This project combined dance techniques and methods developed in Europe and the US and Asian traditional dance/performing arts and physical techniques, exploring forms of physical expression that do not apply to either framework. The research scope was expanded to include historical and cultural texts, and artists from different social and artistic backgrounds worked on creation together.

[Year 1 project outline]
-Research in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Battambang and elsewhere in Cambodia; research in Yangon, Mandalay, Taungpyon and elsewhere in Myanmar; research in Kolkata and Manipur in India
-Finalizing of Asian musicians, video/filmmakers, and dancers to collaborate with
-Start of creation with Japanese dancers
[Year 2 project outline]
-Creation with dancers and photographers invited from Phnom Penh
-Field research in Manipur, start of composing with local musicians
-Creation and performance of “Cross Transit” in Tokyo with photographers, dancers, and musicians invited from Phnom Penh and Manipur

[Year 3 project outline]
-Creation and presentation in Sado and Tokyo with musicians invited from Manipur and photographers and dancers invited from Phnom Penh
-Research and creation on martial arts and music in Chiang Mai (Thailand), and Yogyakarta and Padang Panjang (Indonesia)
-Creation and performance of “voxsoil” in Phnom Penh
-Creation and performance of “voxsoil” in Tokyo

“Echoes of Calling” (3-year grant from 2020)

How does traditional Celtic culture and festival song and dance passed down from ancient times in Japan influence people’s memory? How is it possible to connect tradition and the present-day in a way that transcends differences in forms of expression, culture, nationality, and language? We depicted in dance how the ways of life and cultures rooted in each region and the traditions that live on through the body meet, interact, coexist, and transform.
*Activities for years 1 and 2 primarily took place online as the COVID-19 pandemic made travel difficult.

[Year 1 project outline]
-The start of online meetings and creation with musicians and dramaturgs from Ireland
-Creation and performance of “Echoes of Calling” with two musicians invited from Ireland (performance video recorded in a theater without an audience and streamed online)
[Year 2 project outline]
-Online lectures on Mongolia and Uzbekistan by researchers and experts
-Online research with artists from Central Asia
-Creation and performance of “Echoes of Calling -Gushland-” with dancers and musicians invited from Ireland (2nd work of the project)

[Year 3 project outline]
-Tour of Uzbekistan/Ireland for workshops and performances of “Echoes of Calling”
-Performance in Japan of “Echoes of Calling-rainbow after-” (3rd work of the project)
See the following links for information on activities:
-“Cross Transit” (2015) here
-“Echoes of Calling” (2020) here

Program (Schedule)

18:45 Venue opens

19:00 Introduction to Creation Grant [Long Term] program and activities under grant

19:05 【Part 1】
-The background and intention that led to the implementation of this grant project
-Philosophy and methodology for international collaboration on this project
-Introduction to project details: “Cross Transit” – Memories of land entrusted to the body: The body as a medium


20:10 【Part2】
-Introduction to project details: “Echoes of Calling” – Inspiration from “prayer” and oral traditions in modern-day communities
-Subsequent developments

20:45 Question-and-answer session

21:00 Close

Speakers profiles

 ©Hiroyasu Daid
Office ALB
Founded in 2010 by Akiko Kitamura. Its international collaborations comprise “To Belong” (2011-2014), “Cross Transit project” (2015-2019), and “Echoes of Calling project” (2019-2023). In spring 2023 it began a new project, “Xstream project.” In November it will stage its first performance under the project, “Soul Hunter.”
Akiko Kitamura(Office ALB) WebSite

 ©Hiroyasu Daid
Akiko Kitamura
Dancer/choreographer. Founded and led the Leni-Basso dance company (1994–2009) while studying at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Established Office ALB in 2010 to develop international collaborative projects based on research and creation. To date Kitamura has carried out international collaborations with countries from Southeast Asia to South Asia, and performed works both in Japan and overseas.

Keiichi Hayashi
Producer. Became a staff member at the small theater space die pratze in 2006. Since 2012 he has been representative of the Executive Committee for the “dance ga mitai!” series. In the same year, he became a production staff at d-soko Theater. In 2019 he produced “After-school Diversity Dance,” and went freelance in 2022.


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Monday, December 11, 2023, 14:00

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Activity Report of Creation Grant [Long Term] Session
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