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Toyota Choreography Awards 2008 “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize goes to Yukio Suzuki
 Now in its 6th holding, the Toyota Choreography Awards have become established as one of the most sought after awards for emerging young choreographers. The “Nextage” competition for finalists to decide the final winner was held at the Setagaya Public Theatre on June 28 and the awards ceremony held on the 29th. From the original 170 applicant groups, six were chosen as finalists in the First Stage judging based on video taped performances. In the Nextage competition, each of the six finalist groups were given 30 minutes to present their choreographed work. Then in a same-day meeting of the judges the winner of the grand prize, named the “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize was decided, with the butoh-trained leader of the company Kingyo, choreographer and dancer Yukio Suzuki, chosen the winner for his work Confronting Silence. Also from this year a new “Nextage Special Prize” for hip-hop based solo stage pieces was awarded, with the prize going to the leader of the “Tokyo ELECTROCK STAIRS” dance company, KENTARO!! for the piece Don’t cry, wait in Tokyo. The Audience Prize chosen by audience voting after performances also went to KENTARO!! and to Kitamari, the leader of the dance company KIKIKIKIKIKI consisting of primarily female dancers from Kyoto University of Art and Design and active in the Kansai region, for her work Beehive007.

Yukio Suzuki, the winner of the “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize, was originally inspired by the butoh dance he encountered at the Asbestos Studio, the studio of the originator of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata (presently an NPO named Laboratory Butoh Japan active in the promotion of creative butoh resources and as an archive of butoh records). Then he performed in works by Ko Murobushi and SAL VANILLA among others. In 2000 he started his own company “Kingyo” which has drawn attention for its works that concentrate on explorations of the dancer’s body. His activities as a choreographer range widely from performances at the Yokohama Triennale and providing choreography for the Tokyo City Ballet Company to participating in the Asia Dance Conference.
His winning piece this time, Confronting Silence (premiered 2007), is a work for four men and women involving a high level of intensity in the interaction of the intrepid dancers’ bodies. Reviews hailed it as “a terrific piece with courage of experiment in silence” and “a well-balanced composition in terms of space and lighting.”

The winner of the “Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize receives \2 million from Toyota Motor Company for performance funding, a residency program involving the use of studio facilities at the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum and support from the Setagaya Public Theater in the form of free use of the Theater Tram for a winner’s performance. The award is biennial with the next holding scheduled for 2010.

The winners, finalists and judges are as shown below:
+Toyota Choreography Awards 2008
Choreographer of the Next Generation award
    Yukio Suzuki for Confronting Silence

Nextage Special Prize
Audience Prize

    KENTARO!! for Don’t cry, wait in Tokyo


Audience Prize
    Kitamari for Beehive007


Nextage finalists: six groups (in Japanese alphabetical order)
    Shigemi Kitamura
    Yukio Suzuki
    Miyuki Tokui
    Yamaga Zakuro & Izumi Taro
+Nextage judges (in Japanese alphabetical order)
John Ashford (The Place assistant director)
Ishii Tatsuro (Dance critic)
Itoh Kim (Choreographer, dancer)
Margaret Lawrence (Dartmouth College Hopkins Center program director)
+Toyota Choreography Awards 2008