The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Artist Interview
Art Director Jo Kanamori (29) talks about the future of Japan's first public dance company
black ice
Premiere: October, 2004
This is a collaborative work with the contemporary artist Tadasu Takamine. The term “black ice” used in the title refers to a completely transparent ice and the expression comes from the appearance of black asphalt showing through a completely transparent film of ice on a road. The term is used figuratively to mean something that can’t be seen but still has an effect, as when a car slips on the unseen film of ice on the road. The production is an omnibus work consisting of three short pieces, each of a different type: black wind, which takes as its text a man facing imminent death, staged against a backdrop of video art by Takamine; “black ice”, which is a collaboration on the theme of points of contact (with the ground) involving dancers and special images created with the use of a thermograph; and black garden, in which the dancers search the depths of their own souls in a forest-like array of objet. This work also displays effective manipulations of the stage space such as creating a complete “black box” by spreading a black stage cloth on the floor which is usually never used in dance because of its slippery quality.

©Niigata City Performing Arts Center
What about music?
There are often cases when I hear some music and am inspired to choreograph to it. The Adagietto of Mahler’s 5th Symphony is a work that I was attracted to the first time I heard it. Later when I saw a pieced that Béjart had choreographed to Mahler’s Adagietto, I had reservations about it. The initial impact of the music was still strong in my mind, so I decided to try choreographing my own piece to it. It came together very quickly and the product was my piece “Under the Marron Tree.”
Ryoji Ikeda is another artist I like, and I am fortunate to have been able to use a lot of his music, including original pieces he composed for my work. For black ice, Atsuhiko Gondai composed the music. This time, the piece he sent me after discussing the kind of music I wanted is really a wonderful piece, and although it was not composed originally for my work, I said I wanted very much to use it and he agreed.
I decide on music intuitively. When I am looking for music to choreograph to I listen to a lot of work, but really listening to music in that way can be tiring, so I don’t usually listen to music in my free time.

With “SHIKAKU” you collaborated with an architect and with “black ice” it was a contemporary artist. Do you plan to continue such collaborations?
When I think about where contemporary dance is headed, I believe that collaboration with artists from various fields is absolutely essential. Dance is becoming a more comprehensive art form and for a number of years now there have been collaborative works bringing in theater and art, and new things are happening musically as well. What you can gain from working on a collaboration with a new artist is tremendous. However, you have to be careful, because it will not always lead to a successful work.
For me, collaboration is a searching process within the creative process, and it is in the process of discovering new possibilities and then breaking them down that your form of expression is born. The work “SHIKAKU” was the product of a collaborative effort with the architect Tsuyoshi Tane, and we had very interesting conversations about how an architect perceives spaces and the human body. Even in our discussion in areas not related to dance, the time I spent with him was very stimulating.
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