Eiko & Koma, “Exposed Souls”
Simple, complex and “bare-bottom naked” — Eiko & Koma reveal a multitude of meanings in their work and in their lives.
Koma: When I was young — like everybody when young — I wanted to change the world, you know? First I tried to be like Che Guevara. Then I tried to be like John Lennon. Then I wanted to do theatre, so I tried to be like Jerzy Grotowski. But finally I arrived at dance.
Eiko: And Koma and I were in the same dance studio. It was very coincident that we just happened to be in the same studio at the same time.
When I was young — like everybody when young — I wanted to change the world.
Koma: Yes, because it’s difficult to change the world if you’re alone, so if I get some help …
Eiko: … some camaraderie …
Koma: … sometimes it’s easier. Still, we have to make a living as dancers. We have kids so our family has to survive. We are immigrants. Those are not obstacles, those are just realities that we negotiated to make our lives in dance.
Life on this world is so simple. Very simple, very naked.
Eiko: But since we are dancers, we are so good at moving around that when we see an obstacle, we don’t attack. We go sneaking around it … and maybe we succeed by being sort of like stupid souls, looking for the thing that is not corporate, that is not mainstream, that is kind of bare-bottom naked. We seriously thought at the time that dance is a very un-capitalistic way of living. And I think it remains so.
Koma: You know, life on this world is so simple. We come out of our mom’s tummy, naked, in our first appearance. We slowly start to see something and start to hear something then we cry. Our first experience. Very simple, very naked.
Eiko: When we created Regeneration, which we performed at the Clarice Smith Center in September, we realized that nakedness is something we always kept in our work, something we always wanted. It does make us feel very vulnerable, and we kind of like it.
If the clock is keeping time, our living makes the time feel differently. And our work shows this — our dance, our art.
But even when we perform with a costume, our mind is quite naked, in a sense.
Koma: In order to make our art, we try to put everything on the stage — music or theatre lights or costumes — and of course, since we are dancers, we try to make our movement slower or faster, with high points or long moments.
Eiko: The Walker Art recently published a book that is a catalogue of our entire works up until now, called Time is Not Even, Space is not Empty. It basically sums up how we approach time and space on stage as a performer. Time is not evenly felt. If the clock is keeping time, our living makes the time feel differently. And our work shows this — our dance, our art.
Koma: If I get another 10 extra years in life, I want to really challenge myself to do painting. How can I put all my life experience into that white blank paper? It’s very challenging, but someday I want to try, I want to try.