Yoshiko Chuma Returns With ‘Pi=3.14…Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota

La MaMa’s Galleria, 6 East First Street, will present Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks in a new performance/installation fusion work, “Pi=3.14…Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border,” from July 11 to 14, 2013.

“Pi=3.14…Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border” is a collaborative work between the dancers of Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks, daguerreotype artist Takashi Arai (Daguerreotype is the 1830s photo process in which a direct positive is made in the camera on a silvered copper plate) and video artist Kit Fitzgerald. The performance is staged as a multi-disciplinary work within an installation.

Yoshiko Chuma and members of The School of Hard Knocks International, including Rebeca Medina, Coque Salcedo, Mina Nishimura, Tatyana Tenenbaum and Felipe Gomez Ossa, will create choreography based on the process of daguerreotype making. A description of that process is contained in Chuma’s blog, “Daguerreotype: Mirror with a Memory 2013-2015,” which is found at daguerreotypemirrorwithamemory.

Yoshiuko Chuma in performance/installation at Center for Remembering and Sharing. Photo by Ayumi Sakamoto.

Yoshiko Chuma has been traveling widely, documenting artistic expeditions to Ramallah, Fukushima and Bogota, where she has collaborated with local troupes on performance works that investigate, among others, themes of not being able to return home. She is currently engaged in a series of works, under the common rubric “Daguerreotype: Mirror with a Memory,” in which she intentionally confuses documentation with history. Chuma creates fictional fables of alienation and diaspora by multi-layering choreography with texts, images, filmed interviews, moving sculptures and video footage that she has collected over her artistic career. She refers to them, metaphorically, as “framing theater with barbed wire.”

This performance will be built as an installation with live dance components in a series of scenes that draw the audience into the space from various viewpoints. Live music will be provided by Aska Kaneko, a violinist, with composition by Christopher McIntyre. Elements will include aspects of Colombian mythology, dances that were created in Ramallah, and the seven-step process of daguerreotype photography that will be abstracted into movement vocabulary.

Works by Takashi Arai (daguerreotype), Kit Fitzgerald (digital paintings), Robert Flynt (photography), Dona Ann McAdams (photography), Hugh Burckhardt (photography), and Gabriel Berry (artwork) will be exhibited and will be part of the stage set for the performance installation.

Backstage processes will be transparent to the audience. The stage manager, costume designer and video/sound operators will be revealed on stage so that the audience can experience a multi-dimensional performance process as if they are observing it in a laboratory. Each performance starts with Takashi Arai making a daguerreotype of an audience member that he has selected.

The performance installation will be performed each evening, from July 11 to 14, at 7:30. Tickets for July 12-14 are $15. The July 11 performance will contain an opening night party with salsa dancing following the production; tickets for that night are $20. The La MaMa box office is reachable at (212) 475-7710 and tickets can be purchased online at www.lamama.org.

Much of Yoshiko Chuma’s work is evolutionary, as is “Pi=3.14…Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border.” It has roots in a dance work named “Pi=3.14” that was created by Yoshiko Chuma for The Club at La MaMa in 2002. That piece was based on a mountain of correspondence and miscommunications between The School of Hard Knocks and people in Hiroshima, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Kabul.


The School of Hard Knocks takes its name from the American idiom, which intrigued Chuma when she was still new to this country. It means to learn things the hard way on the proverbial “street,” and she first used it as the title of a performance at the 1980 Venice Biennale. Under the artistic direction of Yoshiko Chuma, The School of Hard Knocks is now a New York-based collective of choreographers, dancers, actors, singers, musicians, designers, and visual artists. The award-winning company has created and performed over 60 original works in the United States, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Over the course of the company’s history, more than 2,000 people have performed to wide critical acclaim under Chuma’s direction in theatrical dance concerts, street performances, grand parades, large-scale spectacles and intimate living rooms. (www.yoshikochuma.org, daguerreotypemirrorwithamemory.blogspot.com)


Artistic director of The School of Hard Knocks, Yoshiko Chuma grew up in postwar Japan. Chuma has been a firebrand of New York’s downtown dance scene since arriving here in 1976. She has worked around the globe since the 1980s, in regions off the beaten path, taking her work to East/Central Europe since 1985. She was the first US artist invited to work with classically trained dancers in Budapest, Hungary, when contemporary dance was in early development there. Chuma brought her vision and creativity to that region and since has spearheaded workshops, collaborative residencies, original creations, and choreographed numerous works in collaboration with artists in the USA, East/Central Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

She was a pioneer in bringing US artists to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, and Palestine among others. Most recently, she completed “6 Seconds in Ramallah,” a collaboration with El-Funoun (Palestinian dance company) performed at festivals in Jordan and Palestine and supported by MAA. She has created more than 60 full-length company works, commissions and site-specific events for venues in 35 countries, constantly challenging the notion of performance for both audience and participant. Her work has been presented in such diverse venues as Joyce Theater, the Eiffel Tower, Newcastle Swing Bridge, City Center, Lincoln Center, the former National Theater of Sarajevo, the perimeter of the Hong Kong harbor, World Financial Center, and an ancient ruin in Macedonia, among many others. She has received fellowships and awards for choreography and career work from John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, New York Foundation for the Arts, Japan Foundation, Meet the Composer Choreographer/Composer Commission and Philip Morris New Works.

Chuma has led workshops and master classes and been commissioned to create new work in East and West Europe, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Manipur, and the U.S. She received a 1984 BESSIE award for choreography and four more Bessies were awarded to her productions in 1992 and 1998. In 2007 she received a Bessie for Sustained Achievement. Her work has appeared in NY stages including: Danspace Project, La MaMa, PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop, Joyce Theater, City Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and others. She has created site-specific works in NYC at Art on the Beach (1980s), the steps of Federal Hall (1980s and 1990s), World Financial Center, Staten Island Ferry and LentSpace (with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has also created other site-specific works worldwide. Chuma was Artistic Director of the Daghdha Dance Company in Limerick, Ireland from 2000-03 and is guest teacher/choreographer in the Dance MA program of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

Amanda Smith wrote in Dance Magazine in 2007, “Yoshiko Chuma is a maverick, utterly unique…. Her career has spanned almost 30 years and 35 countries. Her work is a mixture of play and seriousness, anarchy and reflection, and her hallmarks are collaboration and cultural exchange. Gifted with great personal force and intelligence, at heart she is an experimentalist, a fierce explorer with a profound sense of structure.”


Takashi Arai (Daguerreotypist) was born and raised in Kawasaki and is self-taught in daguerreotype. Now he is renowned as a unique contemporary daguerreotypist in Japan. Arai continuously exhibits his works in association with domestic and foreign museums, galleries, universities and non-profit organizations. His major solo exhibitions are “Rendezvous on Mirror” (2006) at Yokohama Museum of Art, “Mirrors in Our Nights” (2011) at Kawasaki City Museum, “Here and There – Ashita no Shima (Tomorrow’s Islands)” (2012) at Nikon Salon (Tokyo and Osaka), and The Eyes of Fukushima 2 “MIRRORS HALF ASLEEP”(2012) at the Maruki Gallery For The Hiroshima Panels (a.k.a. Maruki Museum) and so on. Arai also participated the group show “Photography Today 4 – In Their Persistent Endeavors to Meet the World” (2012) at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo


Kit Fitzgerald is an artist working in video and digital media. Her work includes live performance, music video, installation, video painting and documentaries on the arts and culture. Her work has been produced and exhibited worldwide.

Ms. Fitzgerald began her career as artist-in-residence at the WNET Television Laboratory in New York. Her work was recognized for the strength of its visual language and sensitivity to music. She was an early adopter of digital technology in live performance. Her live video-music productions bring to video the immediacy and ensemble possibilities found in music and dance. She has a long-standing collaboration with American composer and musician Peter Gordon and the Love of Life Orchestra. Other collaborators included jazz legend Max Roach, choreographers Donald Byrd and Bill T. Jones, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Talking Band, and others.

Ms. Fitzgerald also directs documentaries on art and culture (on Twyla Tharp, The New York City Ballet, Kenneth Anger, 1980’s avant-garde film), music videos (for King Crimson, The Doors, Qbadisc Records), dance videos (with Bebe Miller/Gotham Dance, Bill T. Jones, and The Wooster Group) and PSA’s (for MTV, VH-1). She is currently collaborating with Cuban composer and pianist Elio Villafranca on a documentary about Cuban music.

Her dramatic work, “The Deadman,” won second prize at the Riccione (Italy) Film, Theatre, and Television Festival. Her hi-definition work, “Painted Melodies,” won first prize at the Electronic Cinema Festival in Montreaux, Switzerland and was featured in the New York Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival. She has been the recipient of grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Japan Foundation.

The piece will be presented from July 11 through 14 by La MaMa Galleria on 6 E 1st Street. Tickets cost $15, with the exception of the opening night with a Salsa Party, which costs $20. To contact the box office, call (212) 475-7710, or visit www.lamama.org.