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Mio Sakamoto

with Beata Rasitsan and Christian Podlacha (Bow Echo Collective)



CREATORS JOURNEYS - CM 2022





Driving themes


  • The integration of water, design, and the human body; organic versus inorganic; echoing elements in the environment through choreographic vocabulary, keeping a balance between all elements in the composition.

  • Nature and water. Balance between technology and human body: organic and non-organic;



Goals


  • To develop concepts and material for a live inter-medial installation performance with 360 viewing

  • To develop the physical relationship of design elements with choreography, and to continue building relational vocabulary with the designers

  • To examine and notate what the compositions evoke for different audience members from different vantage points

  • To collect video footage for a grant proposal to take the project to next phase of development


Beginning with this material


  • Video footage of experiments made in a domestic environment

  • Equipment to make projections and relationship with designers

  • Choreographic vocabulary sequences intended to activate the projection environments



Desires


  • To contrast the force and fluidity of water through relationship between design and choreography

  • To focus on qualities of “movement and choreographic research rather than setting the material and choreography, to create a work where dance and design (projection) coexist”

  • To notice how choreography is shaped by the design and how the design is affected by the choreographic material

  • Investigate ways to collaborate with media artists, particularly the Bow Echo Collective 



Challenges


  • Losing the dance in the effort to get the technology running, emphasis and energy often goes toward supporting the real time crunch of getting things to work visually. It can be challenging to support the dancer in the collaboration who has very different needs from the designers.

  • How to not get lost in the pull toward making beautiful visuals, how to maintain the depth of concept around water as a force, and how to give audiences a truly meaningful embodied experience.



Strategies

  • Mio showed experiments and took feedback from the group.

  • Work with the designers to create an installation and performed this section twice. She invited the group to look at the work from two different angles and this generated lots of conversation.

  • Mio worked on another section titled “The Pool” wherein her movements were more defined and constrained by the amplitude of the projection. There was talk of activating multiple projections that she could travel to. This could be activated in a room with a white floor.

  • Finally, Mio showed the group a choreography without any technology and asked us to articulate to her what we saw. We all had different experiences. We all were happy to witness the power of Mio’s dance that had its own compositional coherence without the design aspect.



Discoveries


  • Non-stop exploration in studio allowed emergence of “organic” ways to research the connection between technology and the human body rather than “talking about it”

  • 3 sequences that evoked water as an ethereal presence through multi-disciplinary means If the audience can move around the installation at will, different points of view create truly different readings

  • To make an inclusive experience for the audience will require a lot of research

  • From the showing of dance-only material, Mio and designers could realize what design elements that they would like to develop, e.g. the pillar of light as a wider trajectory taking the dancer through different environments, using plants to help guide audience through an exhibition, the use of actual water as a medium in the interplay of choreographic and design elements.



Skill-building


  • Developing ways of collaborating with the designers;

  • Trying to dance in the balance of herself as a body while reflecting other entities such as light and water, to not let any component lead.



Self-Challenging questions


  • How much do I need to know about all the elements of the work in order to perform it?

  • How much research do I need to do re: the audience experience in a walk-through installation, before this work is ready for public exhibition?


Questions from mentors


  • Why do you want to work with technology?

  • What do you gain by leaving the exhibition form so open-ended?

  • Are you giving yourself as the dancer equal weight in the collaborative composition?



Discussion points


  • Linking choices back to Theme- e.g. maybe asymmetry is important because it displaces the water in the ear?

  • When to keep experimenting, when to settle on the design elements for a section in order to go deeper into what has been established.

  • Technology as body; Movement as elements in the media design

  • 3-D is about intimacy. Live performance in 3-D.

  • 2-D provides “suggested depth”

  • Intimacy creates and Connection transcends the boundary of the screen.

  • Christos asks: “What is the texture of intimacy?”



To practice


  • Thematic and Ethereal elements - keep going to theme – water - and looking for answers, speak to the water in your body. Find ways to dance with the water in the body.

  • Develop shared vocabulary with designers, so that both dance & media are embodied performers

  • Generating forms in space that activate areas in tandem with the material, working in the negative spaces, practice sending presence in different directions as a kind of sewing the spaces between things.



What next


  • Question the concept. Why we are dancing and collaborating? What knowledge comes from moving through these screen environments rather than sitting passively in front of a screen? In what ways can this be meaningful to audiences?

  • Keep working with designers

  • Determine the audience journey between the sections they have designed already:

  1. the work with the panels from 2 perspectives,

  2. the pool,

  3. the wider dance with the columns of light that the design team will work from, and

  4. the integration of a section using actual water.



Keywords


consent, flow, momentum, surprise, timing, comedybody, technology, choreography, design, water, evolution, revolution, multi-focus, immersive environment, ancestral knowledge, climate change, fluidity, interdisciplinary, collaborative, site responsive, body states



Biographies


Mio Sakamoto, Japan/Toronto, performer, choreographer, certified Kaeja Elevation teacher, and founder/lead member of MilO Dance Projects, graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in 2017. In 2018, she trained with international artists including Francisco Córdova, Shannon Gillen, Ryan Mason, Johannes Wieland, Hofesh Shechter Company, and L-E-V Dance Company at B12 Festival (Germany) and Nuova Officinal Della Danza (Italy).


Over the past few years, she has performed (selected) Crépuscule by Marie-Josée Chartier, October Sky by Paul-André Fortier, XTOD - SOLO DANCE XCHANGE for Xtraordinary Japan Tour by Kaeja d’Dance, Mani.Deux by Northfoot Movement at FFDN 2019. ongoing works with Kaeja d’Dance, Nine Bronze Pieces with Maxine Heppner Across Oceans Arts. 


Sakamoto’s choreographic work (selected), Submerge, reverie (dance film), Systematic, Oblivious or Naive, and Cater To You, Know Not What by (dance film) have been presented in Canada,Japan, Slovenia and Germany. She was Kaeja Elevation Choreography Assistant for the Wendy & Peter Pan production of the Stratford Festival in 2019/2020. In 2023 several of her works were presented by Fall for Dance North and The Citadel. Honours include the RBC Newcomer Arts Award by Neighbourhood Arts Network (Toronto Arts Foundation 2020) and 2021 Artist in Residence of Kaeja d’Dance.




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