American Realness

Trajal Harrell, Eiko Otake and Sam Miller

Trajal Harrell, Eiko Otake, and Sam Miller in Conversation

Presented by The Museum of Modern Art

THURS JAN 15, 7:00 PM

11 W 53rd St / $12 adult, $10 senior, $8 student, $5 member guest, free for members /

In one step are a thousand animals is the title Trajal Harrell (American, b. 1973) has given his two-year Annenberg Research Commission Residency project. One of the most prominent choreographers and dancers of his generation, Harrell confronts the history, construction, and interpretation of modern, post-modern and contemporary dance.

In one step are a thousand animals includes an in-depth exploration of the history of butoh, a Japanese dance form created in part to resist the conservatism permeating postwar choreography, and the life and work of Japanese choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata (1928–86), a butoh pioneer. It includes a series of performances and discursive events, including the creation of a new piece for 2016. Through the prism of butoh, Harrell will also focus on the conditions of the museum space and what dance in museums can make visible that other combinations of media, processes, and spaces cannot. The project began in September 2014 with The Practice, in which Harrell offered insights into his working method, inviting participation from renowned musicians, stylist, singers, and dancers.

For this second iteration, Harrell engages in a conversation with Eiko Otake, Japanese choreographer and dancer, who works primarily with her partner Koma. Both Eiko and Koma have studied with Kazu Ohno and Hijikata, and moved to New York in the 70s, developing their own choreographic practice. Trajal Harrell and Eiko & Koma were part of the performance series Performing Histories: Live Artworks Examining the Past, in connection with the exhibition Tokyo: The New Avant-Garde 1945–1970 at MoMA in 2012. Eiko & Koma participated with their The Caravan Project, while Trajal Harrell presented the performance Used Abused and Hung Out to Dry, his first investigation of Hijikata’s work and the aesthetic possibilities of butoh. Together with Sam Miller, the President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the two artists, in their first public conversation, will talk about the artistic legacy of avant-garde dance forms in 1960s Tokyo, Eiko’s integral participation in that scene, Harrell’s research on butoh, and the parallel aesthetic threads in their work.

Organized by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.

The project is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

Photo: Trajal Harrell. The Practice. 2014. Photograph © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. by Julieta Cervantes