Donna Uchizono

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I have deep awe for the sheer courage it takes to be human. This fascination is woven throughout my work as I examine moments of transformation: when the awkward or quotidian, through a change of perception, reveals an unexpected beauty, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. I foster a symbiotic relationship between form and content to create an insistently humane artistic language. My experimentation within the movement medium is a hallmark of my artistic work, as is my collaborations with artists of many disciplines. I create a new physical vocabulary and individualized structure for each new work. My process involves “hearing” the work. I shape conceptual ideas into a physical language specific to each piece, carefully “listening” as the dialogue with the dance itself is revealed. As that dialogue unfolds, in the interplay between dance’s cogent physicality yet lived transience, a new vocabulary and structure emerge.  My work demands physical and mental rigor. I am drawn to an expanded definition of “virtuosity” that moves the markers of skill and excellence to push against human standards of duration, patience, and minute, intensely detailed movement. My embrace of unseen undercurrents leads to the unexpected that traverses a spectrum of the discovery of the extraordinary in the vulnerable human experience.

Two Contrasting Evening Length Works

Iron Jane
(2016-2020) Rescheduled Premiere 2021

March Under an Empty reign
(2017-2018)

At a residency at the Maggie Allesee National Choreography Center (MANCC) in 2018, I began working on Iron Jane, a new work for five dancers which challenges hierarchies of broader phenomena that do not bear visible weight. How do we weigh the resolve to be humane in a time when cruelty and divisiveness are touted? Striving upward, we are simultaneously charged with the grounded weight of the courage it takes to be human. In the midst of creating Iron Jane, I was commissioned by The Joyce Theater (New York, NY) to create a four-sided dance for their NY Quadrille series.

Donna Uchizono Company (DUC) premiered March Under an Empty reign in October 2018. The work drew from more formal choreographic structures to explore constraints in an estranged political climate, using unison as a form of solidarity. Featuring FSU students in the opening section alongside DUC dancers, the work presented a racially diverse cast of intergenerational women dancing together on the stage and throughout the theater.

While “March” focused on the group, Iron Jane concentrates on the individual by building new aesthetics of weight, a shared weight with the audience, offering reverence grounded in grit through a nuanced audience engagement that is both organic and non-obligatory. The piece begins with challenging exertions of the performer body and, in unfolding this tough exterior over time, a new kind of intimacy emerges, building trust between audience and performer, slowly and periodically introducing the major shift three-quarters into the work. The performer invites audience members for an intimate conversation upstage, muffled by light, sound, and a quiet dance downstage, to talk about someone they are thinking of. The performer shoulders the immeasurable weight and responsibility of the participant’s offering by instantaneously creating and dedicating a dance in this person’s honor. The momentary intimacy between performer and participant is still enshrined within the performance of the work but its scope and heft get amplified many times over. Everyone in the room bears witness to these moments of connection and bears the weight of this collective experience. The in-betweens open space for the audience to imagine, project, and offer their presence. Here we can acknowledge each other’s humanity in a way that can only happen in a performance both visceral and mysterious.

FSU MANCC Residency

Six-minute excerpt from March Under an Empty reign Performance at the Joyce Theater, October, 2018

Six-minute excerpts from Iron Jane rehearsal showing Showing at the Baryshnikov Art Center, January, 2020

Department

Dance

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Connections

While there is no overarching theme that unites every faculty member in this exhibition, everyone is connected to someone else through a web of ideas and provocations. We encourage you to use these tags to navigate from one scholar to the next, while understanding that these concepts do not fully account for the depth and nuance of the work you are encountering.

Next Project

Pat Villeneuve

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