The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Vol. 108 Updated Sep. 28, 2015
Performing Arts in JapanInternationl Presenter
Artist Interview
Artist Interview: MIKEY of Tokyo Gegegay   The quest for absolute release
Munetaka MakiMunetaka Maki (“MIKEY”) is attracting attention today for his pursuit of new types of stage performance expression based in street dance. As the pioneers of what he calls a “strange mental world” is his group Tokyo Gegegay present theatrical works that free the viewers from the constraints and suppression of daily life. In this interview we speak with the charismatic dancer, choreographer and director MIKEY in search the unique aesthetic sensitivity that colors his shows.
Artist Interview: A magician in the art of bringing spaces to life  The aesthetic approach of Itaru Sugiyama
Itaru SugiyamaAs a long-time friend and artistic colleague of Oriza Hirata entrusted with the stage art for Hirata’s theater company Seinendan, as well as that of many theater people with strong ties to Seinendan such as Motoi Miura (Chiten), Shu Matsui (Sample), Roba Shimori (Fukin Kobo), Ikue Osada (Tegami-za) and others, Itaru Sugiyama is highly acclaimed for his stage designs that bring life to theater spaces. In this interview we get a broad picture of the artistic activities of Sugiyama, who also serves as a special advisor to the activities base for stage artists and directors, Rokushakudo, and teaches at the university level.
Artist Interview: Toko Nikaido and her spirit behind the “berserker” performances
Toko NikaidoToko (Toco) Nikaido (born 1986) burst onto the theater scene with a style of wild, frenzied performance called “ohagi live” that takes ota-gei (audience group performance at “idol” concerts) as its base while drawing on elements from the idol and anime worlds and other images brought together in chaotic collages. This interview explores the world of Nikaido, who says that creating “explosions” of the culture that is Japan is the only way to portray her generation’s real life in Tokyo in 2015 and to really love the wild pace of these chaotic times.
Presenter Interview
Presenter Interview; Tanec Praha   Leading the Czech contemporary dance scene
Ivona Kreuzmannova
Tanec Praha civic association is the organization that manages the Ponec Theatre, the best known theatre for dance and motion theater in Prague, Czech Republic, and the organizers of the Tanec Praha international contemporary dance festival held each year in June and July. In this interview we spoke with Tanec Praha’s director, Yvona Kreuzmannovà, who continues to be a leader of the Czech contemporary dance scene in that role and through other programs like the Czech Dance Platform held to discover and support the development of young choreographers in the Czech Republic.
Presenter Interview; A breakthrough in exchange between playwrights  Connecting contemporary theater in South America
Cynthia Edul
Established in Argentina in 2010, the non-profit organization Panorama Sur (Panorama South) is a platform that connects young theater artists in the countries of South America. Speaking with Cynthia Edul, the co-founder of Panorama Sur and a talented young playwright and director playing a leading role in building the creative environment and infrastructure for the future of theater arts in South America, we learn about her and the organization’s activities, as well as the current state of the theater scene in Buenos Aires.
Presenter Interview; Seeking new context for communicating the multicultural contemporary Asian experience
Tang Fu Kuen
From his base in Bangkok, Tang Fu Kuen is active as a curator in festivals throughout Asia. Born and raised in Singapore, his involvement in the performing arts began as an actor in the company Theatre Works, before going on to work as a critic in London, New York and Berlin. Free from organizational affiliation and active now as an independent curator, Tang talks about his quest for new contexts for presenting the work of contemporary Asian performers.
Play of the Month
Play of the Month; Gaikokan (The Diplomats) By Moegi Nogi
This play was written by the resident playwright and director of the theater company Paradox Teisu (Paradox Constant), Moegi Nogi, for a production by the theater company Seinen-za. It portrays the impassioned arguments of the Japanese diplomats (actual historical persons) involved in the course of events that led Japan into World War II. Taking as its initial setting the first day of their trail as accused Class A War Criminals in the Tokyo Trials following Japan’s surrender, the play goes on to tell the story of why Japan threw itself into World War II and how they, as diplomats, were involved in the processes that led to that fateful move.
Play of the Month; Moro-moro, Uro-uro By Jun Tsutsui
This is a contemporary colloquial-language style play for senior citizens created by the leader of the performance arts group dracom, Jun Tsutsui, in collaboration with the Takatsuki Senior Gekidan theater company “Soyo Kaze Pedal.” The play intermixes scenes of the members of a mountain climbing club and their anxiety about one of their members who disappeared after going climbing alone and is now a “missing person,” and scenes from a video that he left behind. The result is a poignant depiction of people trying to come to grips with the cruelly intangible “death” of a missing person.
Play of the Month; Choreography Concept 001 for untrained amateurs / Study in weight and movement by Yuya Tsukahara
Yuya Tsukahara, the leader of the group “contact Gonzo” known for its unique type of improvisational performance that sometimes looks like street fighting and sometimes dance, wrote this stage direction script as a form of choreographic guide to enable even amateurs to give performances. As a stage performance it premiered as a finalist work in the 2014 Toyota Choreography Awards. It is a performance (silent play) in which the four performers use movement alone and, by applying weight to each others’ bodies, experience the fetters and responsibilities, and at times the joys, of being alive.
Arts Organization of the Month
Arts Organization of the Month: The International Visegrad Fund
The International Visegrad Fund was established in 2000 for the purpose of promoting cooperation between the four Visegrad countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic, commonly referred to as “V4”) in the areas of the arts, academics, education and tourism, etc. The Fund’s programs include scholarships for foreign students, grants to encourage multi-national research and other projects, as well as residence programs in the arts and culture.
Arts Organization of the Month: Aerowaves
Aerowaves was established in 1996 as a network to support the activities of younger choreographers. The Aerowaves network is an outgrowth of a proposal by John Ashford, who served as theatre director of the comprehensive contemporary dance institution, The Place. The network members currently consist of theatres, festivals and the like in 33 countries across Europe, which collectively provide support for the twenty promising young choreographers called the “Aerowaves Twenty” selected each year.
Arts Organization of the Month: Gati Dance Forum
Based in New Delhi, India, Gati Dance Forum is an organization dedicated to sustainable, long-term development of an environment to support a dance community in India. Founded in 2007, the Forum is known for its pioneering role in the field of Indian contemporary dance and as organizer of the international dance festival “IGNITE!”. In addition, the Gati Dance Forum runs the GATI STUDIO and engages in a variety of programs aimed at nurturing and stimulating the dance community in India.
Japan Topics
8th Festival/Tokyo opens (Oct. 31 – Dec. 6, 2015)   New! (Oct 20, 2015)
English version of “THEATER IN JAPAN: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists” published
Artist interview collection from this website, “Energizing Japanese Culture: The Performing Arts in Japan,” released!
Presenter Topics
Germany’s Ruhr Triennale opens (Aug. 14 – Sep. 26, 2015)   Aug. 7, 2015
The 69th the Avignon Festival opens (Jul. 4 – 25, 2015)   Jul. 28, 2015
New York’s Lincoln Center Festival begins (Jul. 7 – Aug. 2, 2015)   Jul. 28, 2015/span>
68th Edinburgh International Festival opens (Aug. 7 – 31, 2015)   Jul. 28, 2015
News from the Japan Foundation
News from the Japan Foundation
Japan Foundation 2015 – 2016 (second application period) foreign exchange grant recipients announced   New! (Oct. 21, 2015)
Japan Foundation 2015 – 2016 (first application period) foreign exchange grant recipients announced   Sep. 18, 2015
2015 – 2016 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for North America programs finalized   Sep. 18, 2015
2015 – 2016 schedule of the Japan Foundation supported PAJ for Europe programs finalized   Sep. 18, 2015
Overview of “THEATER IN JAPAN: An Overview of Performing Arts and Artists”   Jun. 9, 2010