Aretha Aoki

Region: ME
Generation: first
Born 1979, Vancouver, BC


Aretha Aoki is a choreographer, performer, and Assistant Professor of Dance at Bowdoin College. Her current research is an exploration of the body as a medium for the residue of family history. Aretha’s work has been presented at various venues throughout New York City, New England, and Canada. She works in collaboration with other artists, primarily with writer, sound and visual artist, Ryan MacDonald. As a performer, she has collaborated with Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance for over seven years. She has also worked with robbinschilds, Rebecca Serrell Cyr, devynn emory, Vanessa Anspaugh, Heather Kravas, Juliette Mapp, Daria Fain, Maura Donohue, Elizabeth Ward, Martin Lanz, Faye Driscoll, Lisa D’Amour & Katie Pearl, and many others. Her writing has been published in Contact Quarterly, where she was Associate Editor for three years. She was a co-curator of the 2016 Movement Research Spring Festival Hand Written Note(s).

Artist Statement

My research as a maker is grounded in improvisation and collaboration with artists both within and outside the field of dance. I'm drawn to improvisation both as a process for generating choreography and as the performance itself for its potential to upend habitual patterns and preconceived notions of the self, and to insist upon a moment-to-moment relationship to the body-mind. My work has incorporated highly structured choreography, next to open frames for improvisation, next to a range of art forms: video, sculpture, spoken text, sound, and dance criticism, to name a few. I'm interested in the juxtaposition and layering of different forms in the space of performance for its potential to generate unexpected meanings, to destabilize a fixed center, and to shift perception a little or a lot. I dance in my own work and bring my research as a dancer for others into my creative process. Each choreographer I work with exposes me to a different way of making and moving. Inside these sometimes radically different contexts, I'm interested in the creative process of the performer in learning and inhabiting material; contributing movement and conceptual ideas; accompanying the choreographer into the unknown; and investigating the various states and manifestations of presence and what it means to be in a constantly shifting relationship to one's body, fellow performers, the audience, and the tenor of the work.
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