Fri, Aug 02, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Highlight: A Body in Fukushima

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Eiko Otake will be at the Cloud Gate Theater in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District on Saturday and Sunday next week with A Body in Fukushima, a multi-year dance-documentary project.

Photo courtesy of William Johnston

New York-based Japanese choreographer/dancer Eiko Otake, one-half of the award-winning Eiko & Koma duo, has been working on a series of solo projects, A Body in Places, since 2014.

The 67-year-old Eiko has visited Taiwan several times before, along with partner Takashi Koma Otake, for the first Novel Hall Dance Series program in 1999 at the invitation of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre artistic director Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) and then again in 2009, as well as for shows at other venues.

Next week she will return on her own with A Body in Fukushima, a five-hour combination of documentary screening and performance, at the Cloud Gate Dance Theater.

The A Body in Places series began with a 12-hour performance at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in October 2014, and it was while she was preparing for the shows at that very busy and very big train station she starting thinking about returning to Fukushima, Japan, which she had visited soon after the April 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the region.

The idea was to center a project around that city’s train stations, tracks and other now empty areas.

She invited William Johnston, a Weslayan University history professor and photographer that she had known for nine years, to collaborate, as his research focus in recent years has been on understanding complex historical events such as epidemics, wars, genocide and disasters.

They had also taught courses together at the university on the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan and on mountaintop removal mining.

Eiko and Johnston made two visits in 2014 to the areas near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, places that the Japanese government had only recently begun allowing former residents and others to visit, and two more trips, in 2016 and the following year.

Johnston photographed Eiko as she danced in the now empty stations, roads and other areas of the city, as well as the changing landscape.

Eiko later created a video, A Body in Fukushima, from the photographs that Johnson took.

She has also made a second, longer video from the footage that Johnson shot during all four trips.

At the Cloud Gate Theater, Lin will introduce Eiko and the project, with the first half of the documentary to be screened from 2:45pm to 16:30pm. There will be a half-hour intermission, and then Eiko will perform outside the theater starting at 5pm, and the second half of the documentary will be screened from 6pm to 7:15, followed by a short after-show talk.

Those who purchase tickets for either of the shows are eligible to sign up for a two-hour movement class on Friday, although space is limited. More information on the class is available on the theater’s Web site for the show (

■ Documentary showing and environmental performance on Saturday and Sunday next week at 2:30pm; dance movement workshop on Friday next week from 3pm to 5pm

■ Cloud Gate Theater (淡水雲門劇場), 36, Ln 6, Zhongzheng Rd Sec 1, Tamsui District, New Taipei City (新北市淡水區中正路一段6巷36號).

■ Tickets are NT$800; available at NTCH box offices, Eslite ticket booths, at convenience store ticket kiosks or online at

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