MIN TANAKA- DANCER, DIRECTOR, FARMER
Born in Tokyo in 1945, Min Tanaka is a pioneer within the vast landscape of dance. Since the early 1970′s, he has been developing Body Weather research to explore the origin of dance through farming and dance work in a mountain village in Yamanashi in rural Japan.
Min Tanaka and his company have danced in theaters, museums, streets, fields, forests, gardens, deserts, rivers and oceans, and rooftops and basements around the world. Tanaka has collaborated with renowned artists from various fields— composers such as Luciano Berio, Werner Henze, Toshi Ichiyanagi, such as Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, Derek Bailey, John Cale, Aki Takahashi and Felix Laiko, visual artists such as Giorgio Turcatto, Karel Appel, Noriyuki Haraguchi and Richard Serra, wirters such as Susan Sontag, Kenji Nakagami and Colin Wilson. He has been awarded Chevalier des arts et des lettre from France.
In addition to his won original solo and group work, Min Tanaka has been keen to revive important works of dance and created his version of “The Rite of Spring” with international groups dancers in Japan, France, Czecho and Slovakia 1990-1992, and with Russian folk dancers in Moscow in 1997. He was appointed in 2003 as Master of the new dance department at the School of Dramatic Art in Moscow headed by Anatoly Vasiliev. With the dance company in Moscow he staged an original dance work “Goya—Guests from the Dark” which will tour in Europe in 2005.
The past few years have brought Min Tanaka many chances to be involved in projects around the globe, including: solo within the Yoko Ono retrospective exhibition in New Yorand MIT, Mass., choreography for a version of Werner Hentz’s opera “Venus and Adonis” in Tokyo, an extensive tour in Europe and USA with series of works inspired by Goya’s print work Los Caprichos. In March of 2004 created an original dance work “Towards Csontvari” for the Central Europe dance Theater in Budapest.
In 2002 he received the Best Supporting Actor’s Award from the Japanese Academy Award for the film “Twilight Samurai”(directed by Yoji Yamada; nominated for 2003 US Academy Award for Foreign-Language Films) and is active also as a film actor. In the winter of 2004 he will travel to the islands of Indonesia for a research into their ritual folk dance and music, with the aim to produce a film based on the experience.
His major projects for 2005 include a tour to Canada in the spring, an original work commissioned by the New National Theater in Japan, and produce the multi-discipline annual art festival Dance Hakushu in the summer.
Biography and Activities Record (as of Sep, 2006)
Min Tanaka dancer/choreographer/director
Director, Dance Resources on Earth
Director, Tokason Dance Troupe
Director, Tokason Agricurutural Association Corporation & Body Weather Farm
Education and Professional Activities
1964 entered Tokyo National Univ. of Education (left the school later)
1970 joined Hiraoka Shiga Dance Company
1973 became independent to search his own dance; many solo/group performances and joined many projects as a guest dancer
1978 first foreign appearance at the “MA–Space/Time in Japan”exhibition, Paris Autumn Festival, curated by architect Arata Isozaki and composer Toru Takemitsu; danced everyday for 3 weeks, and made his first appearance in NYC on his way back home.
1979 founded Body Weather Laboratory in Tokyo and started to give many workshops and solo/group performances in Japan, Europe and USA; collaboration with musicians, artists, theater, architects, photo-graphers up to the present
1981 started Maijuku Dance Company and continued workshops and performances
1982 joined with other independent artists and producers to open “plan B”
in Tokyo, a non-profit artists cooperative studio-theater in Nakano, Tokyo
1985 started Body Weather Farm in highland Hakushu Town, Yamanashi, 2 and half hours from Tokyo; now 2 more farms are active at Shikishima (Honmura) in the mountains and at Daitocho on the Pacific coast; with dancers and artists from several countries he breeds chikens and grows rice, ancient rice, vegetables, tea, olives, plums and fruits; at all 3 locations they renovate time-honored farm houses to for living and working and they are promoting a move to establish a field museum for dance resources of folk and artistic origins from around the world.
1988 started Summer Art Festival in Hakushu (renamed later as Artcamp Hakushu, Dance Hakushu) with artists and producers of other genres incl. music, theater, photography, architecture and literature. He served as its Artistic Director and pursued the validity of art in close contact with nature and agriculture through open-air art exhibitions and performances. Dance pieces he directed here include: The Rite of Spring, Ancient Women, Ancient Greenland, Wizard of Oz……
1995 founded Dance Resources on Earth as an evolutionary spin-off of Maijuku.
2000 started Tokason Dance Troupe, a multinational dance group dedicated to pursue the essence of Butoh.
1978 first visit to NYC; danced in the street, lofts and on the icy roof of Clock Tower in the financial district as well as at PS1, then a branch of the Institute for Art and Urban Resources. In 1997 Tanaka signed a life-time contract with PS1, now called officially P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and affiliated with MoMA. He has been dancing almost every year in the last 22 years.
1980 participated in Rajkyavik Festival, Hollland Festival and Nancy Theater Festival
1981 realized“MMD Project 81”with Milford Graves (USA, perc.) and Derek Bailey (UK, guitar), great masters of improvising music, with whom he continues to collaborate to this day
1982 participated in Sydney Biennale
1984 directed and choreographed “Sonorite de jaune” conceived by V. Kandinsky, music by Luciano Berio and stage-art by Giorgio Trucatto, Venice Biennale; founded Ren-ai Buto-ha (Love Dance School) with Tatsumi Hijikata, initial founder of Butoh dance; together they presented “Ren-ai Buto-ha Teiso”a legendary collaboration between the two, in Tokyo
1988 first collaboration with Cecil Taylor (USA, piano) with whom he continued to work on several occasions in Japan and USA;
1989 premiered “Can We Dance the Landscape” commissioned by Opera Comique of Paris with stage-art by Dutch artist Karel Appel; the work was brought to BAM/NYC subsequently
1990 premiered “The Rite of Spring” at Paris Opera Comique with stage art by Richard Serra; the work was brought to Prague and Bratislava National Theaters in the following year
1992 premiered “Munch–Dance of Life” inspired by Edward Munch, and as a collaboration with Norwegian dancers and actors at Lillehammer Winter Olympiad Art Festival; the work was later presented in Tokyo International Festival of Performing Arts (TIF);
1995 Europe tour sponsored by the Japan Foundation “I Was Born out of Earth”
1996 premiered with Brazilian dancers and actors “A Conquista” conceived by Antonin Artaud but never staged till then, commission by Artaud 100 Years Festival in Sao Paulo; the work was later presented at TIF in Tokyo
1997-99 premiered 3 pieces of Grimm Grimm series with Czech dancers and actors, collaboration with Archa Theater in Prague; these works were later presented at TIF in Tokyo
1998 presented in Moscow “The Rite of Spring–fin-de-ciecle version” with Russian dancers, an inaugural project by northern Japan’s Niigata City Performing Art Center
1999 presented the above “The Rite of Spring” in Niigata City and Toky premiered “Romance–Love in Fluxus” at TIF, a dance/live music inter-national production
2000 inaugurated Tokason Dance Troupe which toured in Europe and presented Goya and Romance Series at Gent Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Firenze International Dance Festival, Villa Medici in Roma (as a part of architecture/art exhibition Garden/ City/Memory) and Teatro Galan in Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Workshop and choreography/performance with a Maori Dance Group in New Zealand; Danced the title role in <King Lear> choreographed by Haruka Ueda at Japan’s New National Theater and Niigata Center for Performing Arts, Osaka, Nagoya; Workshop and performance for several Asian countries’ traditional and contemporary dancers, musicians, actors and artists in Singapore. Solo performances at the Japan Society in New York to commemorate Yoko Ono’s retrospective exhibition where he danced to her recorded voice and instrumental music.
2001 Workshop and performance of a piece inspired by Goya’s <Los Caprichos> with Russian dancers, a collaboration with Russia’s theater director Anatoly Vasiliev for <Theater Olympics III> in Moscow, April-May 2001; Will start research and creation of a multi-media performance piece with Asian artists, inspired by the Chinese literary classic <Red Chamber Dream>, a collaboration with The Flying Circus in Singapore for 2002. Tokason Butoh Troupe which toured in U.S.A and presented Goya Series and Solo dance and Duet performance with Meredith Monk.
2002 Solo performances at the Montreal, Moscow, Yugoslavia, Munich, Czech National Opera House, Korean Yonun Art Museum. School of Love-Dance (Ren-ai Buto-ha) ─Fourth Barn-Raising Min Tanaka Solo Dance “Infant Body out of Joint”at the Setagaya Public Theatre. Total direction of <L’ Histoire du soldat> for Kunitachi Music College, Tokyo. Tokason Dance Troupe Goya series Final Performance“To Be Liberated from Freedom─ On This Culpable Constitution”at the Japan Foundation Forum. Workshop and performance of a piece inspired by Goya’s with Russian dancers at the Moscow Dramatic Art School. Min appearanced on movie“The Twilight Samurai( Tasogare Seibei, direction by Yoji Yamada)” road show. Workshop for several Asian countries’ traditional and contemporary dancers, musicians, actors and artists in Laos.
2003 premiered “Innocent Chekov”coreographed Japanese modern dancers at the Tokyo
International Forum C. premiered Internatinal Dance Project <In Search of Subtle Presence> I“Forest Air”. premiered “Goya–Guest from the Dark”with Russian dancers commissioned by Moscow Dramatic Art School. Solo performance at the Paris Dance Week Festival, Moscow, Servia with Felix Lajiko(vl). premiered Tokason new piece “kidnapping”at the Japan’s NEW NATIONAL THEATRE TOKYO.
2004 New piece creating now inspired by Tong Chobari with Hungarian dancers for Europe Central Dance Company. Total direction of <L’ Histoire du soldat> for AOI Hall, Shizuoka. premiered Internatinal Dance Project <In Search of Subtle Presence> II“Smiles in the Forest”. Travel to the islands of Indonesia for solo dances and a research into their ritual folk dance and music, with the aim to produce a film based on the experience.
2005 premiered Tokason new piece“Where from; from the Family? ”at the Japan’s NEW NATIONAL THEATRE TOKYO. Solo dance tour to Canada in Otawa, Montreal, premiered original work commissioned“Shakko (Crimson Light)”(with Noh music player) by the Japan’s NEW NATIONAL THEATRE TOKYO. Main guest for“Symposium/Workshop in cooperation with InTRANSIT Berlin”. premiered Internatinal Dance Project <In Search of Subtle Presence> III“Forest Story”. Min appearanced on movie“Maison de Himiko(direction by Issin Inudo)” road show. Solo dance“where we fall into transparency”at the Setagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo.
2006 premiered Tokason new piece“Gravity and Gaiety”at the Japan’s NEW NATIONAL THEATRE TOKYO.
Since 2004 he has been involved with a project to conserve virgin forests in Kalimantan Island, Indonesia, entrusted by the Indonesian government and local activists. This involves his search for human engagement with the nature’s indigenous process, and he regards dance and other performative arts as an important asset for this engagement
His major projects for 2006 include “Magic Flute” (Min Tanaka as choreographer; directed by Pierre Audi and conducted by Ricardo Muti; revival of 1993 original at the Netherland Opera) at the Salzburg Festival in August; creation of a new work with Greek dancers at the Cultural Capitol of Europe at Patras, Greece; Venezia Biennale Dance Festival and Simposium, Locus Dance tour to several Japanese cities including Tokyo of his biographical work; and produce the multi-disciplinary annual art festival Dance Hakushu in the summer.
(as either dancer, director, choreographer, or multi-role)
Carmina Burana, Idomeneo, Oedipus Rex (all conducted by Seiji Ozawa)
Noach, The Magic Flute,(Netherlands National Opera)
Venus and Adonis (Bayern State Opera, Japan’s NHK HALL)
1979, 95, 98, 2003 Japan Dance Critics Association Annual Award
1990 decorated as Chevalier des arts et lettre of France
1995 Suntory award for regional culture
2001 Contemporary Arts Award, Japan Culture/Arts Promotion Foundation
2003 The most valuable of byplayer & New figure award of Japan Academy Award
2006 Asahi Performing Arts Award , Kirin Special Grant for the Dance
The most valuable of byplayer award of Takasaki Film Festival
Writings and Publications
Numerous essays and articles on dance, farming, and the concept of Body Weather published in Japanese and foreign magazines and newspapers.
A book of dialogue with Felix Guattari, <Zen Fire and Light Speed> published in Japan
and so on….