Client: winter guests

Project: Simulacrum / Natsue Role: Creative Consultant and Producing Partner

Simulacrum, the new striking visual narrative and dance by Norwegian performing arts company Winter Guests, is a full-length evening work consisting of two separate, but related pieces. The first is titled Simulacrum (60min) and the second Natsue (20min).

Simulacrum weaves together the real and fictional journeys, histories and desires of two actual dancers, both of whom left their countries of origin in search of truth and authenticity. 76 year-old Shōji Kojima migrated to Spain from Japan to become a master of Flamenco, and 31 year-old contemporary Argentine dancer Daniel Proietto left for Japan to study the female role of Kabuki. Both dancers found solace in movement as a way to mediate their traumatic pasts — the chaos and poverty of Daniel’s early life in Buenos Aires; and the haunting pain of Shoji’s childhood abandonment.

Simulacrum brings these two award-winning dancers together across geographical and cultural borders to examine the parts that memory, passion, identity and mortality play in the making of art and the artist. Simulacrum is an intensely visceral, multi-disciplinary performance incorporating the secretive, familial formality of Kabuki; the fierce, prideful energy of Flamenco with Contemporary dance. Simulacrum asks how are claims to authenticity made and by whom? What are the stakes?

Natsue is a poetic re-membering of the trauma and pain of Shōji Kojima’s abandonment, told from the perspective of Natsue, Shōji’s mother, who was forced to give him up at birth to her childless brother-in-law. Performed in the traditional Kabuki style by Daniel Proietto, Natsue is an intense meditation on loss, hopelessness and the impossibility of reunion. After years of guilt and grief, Natsue returns to the birthplace of Shōji in one last, but failed attempt to see her son.

Natsue is especially composed and choreographed by the famous Kanjuro Fujima, the head of the Fujima school of traditional Japanese dance. Kanjuro is from a long line of highly acclaimed artists; his grandfather, Fujima Kanjuro IV, was designated as a Living National Treasure.