Shuji Onodera's Spectator at Japan Society


Spectator, Shuji Onodera, Japan Society, Japan, NYC, Derashinera, ballet, dance, mime


Friday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. (followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Saturday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Japan Society – 333 E. 47th Street (between First and Second Avenues)

Tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society members

Inspired by Shuji Onodera’s experience with students at Metropolitan Otsuka School for the Deaf in Tokyo where he provided a series of workshops over several years, Spectator unveils non-narrative stories of tender emotion arising from human communication. These episodes, suggestive of a Beckett-esque world of absurdity, are woven through director/choreographer Onodera’s original movement vocabulary, lauded for its surreal take on everyday life, and interlaced with live video, animation, projected text, a simple but elaborate stage set representing a small apartment room, and slapstick humor. This highly conceptual multimedia dance theater work transports audiences between a seemingly familiar space and an outlandish world. The company includes Naoya Oda from the celebrated butoh company Dairakudakan, and Maki Yamada and Mai Nagumo, participants from Onodera’s initial workshops for deaf students. Spectator had its world premiere at Owlspot Theater in Tokyo in 2013.

Shuji Onodera trained at the Mime Institute of Japan in Tokyo.  Onodera’s own body movement method, developed out of his mime background and altered to create a highly original form of dance theater, has been widely praised. In 1995, he co-founded Mizuto Abura (“water and oil” in Japanese). Mizuto Abura was honored with the Herald Angel Award at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2001 and toured internationally to 22 cities across nine countries (including a four-city tour in the U.S. in 2004) as well as Japan. Onodera directed and choreographed the Event of the Future, a collaborative performance between dancers of Mizuto Abura, Big Jazz Band and the Tokyo Partner Robot developed by the Toyota Moto Corporation at the Expo 2005 Aichi in Japan.

Onodera lived in Paris for a year, beginning in September 2006, with a fellowship under the New Artists Overseas Research Program of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japanese government. Upon his return to Japan in 2007, he established Company Derashinera, which since its debut has consistently displayed artistic excellence. That same year, he presented A Man Fallen Into a Void, featuring the star ballet dancer Yasuyuki Shuto, considered Maurice Bejart’s favorite protégé. In 2008, he created two new pieces, A Woman’s House and Fugue X, which were performed abroad in the Mimos International Mime Festival in France and at the International Mime and Physical Theatre in Warsaw, Poland. Onodera’s works A Woman’s House (2008), ARAKAJIME (2009), and Points and Lines written by Seicho Matsumoto (2009), have been widely recognized and appreciated for employing theater actors and for their unique aesthetic combining mime, dance and theatrical performance. Onodera’s Company Derashinera was featured in Japan Society’s Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia in 2010, with its short piece Another Story. Onodera’s Romeo and Juliet was presented at Dance Triennale Tokyo 2012 and Princess Mermaid at an outside theater at the 2013 Art Setouchi. Onodera was the choreographer for Amon Miyamoto’s Kinkakuji, which was presented as part of the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival in New York. His current mission includes bridging the gap between amateurs and professionals in performance, given special focus in the creation of Spectator as well.

Spectator is performed by Momoko Fujita, Kyoko Miyashita, Naoya Oda, Yu Saito, Hideaki Takeuchi, and from the original workshops for students at Metropolitan Otsuka School for the Deaf, Mai Nagumo and Maki Yamada.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Japan Society’s website.