The Kurofune Ensemble is a Japan-based collaboration between musicians, dancers and educators whose goal is to create a unique bridge between Japanese and American culture through the performing arts. Kurofune means "black ships", the name given to vessels arriving to Japan during the Edo period. They became a symbol of the end of Japanese isolation.
In the fall of 2016, I travelled to Japan as a principal dancer to collaborate with the ensemble. We toured through Hokkaido, Sapporo, and Kyoto to present a program fusing Classical and Traditional Japanese music, Butoh and other dance forms of post-war America and Japan.
A central aim of the tour was to enhance international dialogue about the role of arts education, cross-cultural relations, and freedom of expression. We sought to provoke thought about the significance of movement not only as an art form, but as a daily practice to promote care and generosity.
In addition to performances, we also gave workshops to Japanese grade-school students. Content was focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity. Throughout the tour, we explore the concept of improvisation in dance and music. Guiding questions included: how does improvisation play a role in art to promote deep learning and empathy?