Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and Sustainable Little Tokyo are excited to announce the launch of “okagesama: dance screening series” and live artist panel discussions from March to May.

The screening presents three dance projects from JACCC’s 50 years as a hub of Japanese and Japanese American arts, culture, and dance — including legendary artists such as Hirokazu Kosaka and Oguri. The Japanese word okagesama is from the phrase “Okagesama deshita,” or “Thank you for your shadow.”

As JACCC master artist-in-residence and featured artist Kosaka says, “The shadow represents one’s presence, as well as everything and everyone who is not present, but contributed to the moment.”

From this concept, SLT Program Director Scott Oshima curated a selection of JACCC dance performances that explore shadows, the body’s presence and absence. The first two episodes showcase past JACCC programs from 1998 and 2019 and the third and final episode is a newly commissioned, site-specific dance for video, produced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episodes will be available for a one-week-only online screening and include a live panel discussion with the artists on the Thursday of each screening week. Rentals are a $5 suggested donation, $12 for the three-video package, and panel discussions are free. Rent the videos, register for the panel discussions, and learn more at www.jaccc.org/okagesama.

Episode 1: Hirokazu Kosaka, Oguri and Yuval Ron, “In Between the Heartbeat”

Screening: March 1–7; Live Panel: March 4 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with Hirokazu Kosaka, Oguri and Yuval Ron, moderated by Scott Oshima.

A special presentation of this 1998 performance from JACCC’s archive. In kyudo (Japanese archery), the perfect shot is in-between the heartbeats — immediate action without thought. An experience of immigration is brought to life through a landscape of light and shadows, copy machines and electric blankets, bodies and arrows. A collaboration with JACCC Master Artist-in-Residence Hirokazu Kosaka, choreographer Oguri, and composer Yuval Ron.

Hirokazu Kosaka is an ordained Shingon Buddhist priest and a master of the art of kyudo. After graduating from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1970, he continued to study the traditional and contemporary arts. He has received awards from the NEA, Rockefeller, New England foundation, Creative Capital, and U.S. Artist Fellow. He has been actively advocating Japanese culture and art at the JACCC since 1983.

Oguri became inspired to dance after meeting butoh founder Hijikata Tatsumi in 1983. He also practiced traditional organic farming, experiencing the rhythms and cycles of this most human lifestyle, and the connection of the human body to nature is a foundation of Oguri’s dance. After moving to Los Angeles in 1991, he founded Body Weather Laboratory LA with Roxanne Steinberg and went on to tour extensively internationally. He has received multiple awards and has taught dance all over the world.

Yuval Ron is an award-winning composer and world music artist creating unique original film scores, music for contemporary dance, theater, museums, new media, medical and healing modalities as well as concerts, tours and recordings of the international renowned ethnic music and dance group The Yuval Ron Ensemble and music production company Yuval Ron Music (www.yuvalronmusic.com).

Episode 2: Isak Immanuel and Marina Fukushima, “Festival of Shadows”

Screening: April 5-11; Live Panel: April 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with Isak Immanuel, Marina Fukushima, Oguri and Sara Sithi-Amnuai. moderated by Hirokazu Kosaka and Scott Oshima.

People, place, and shadow meet in this intergenerational performance. “Festival of Shadows” is composed of a series of movement scores, video, and installations developed through local workshops and an inquiry into present and absent bodies. The project delves into the ways in which displacement is often intimately interwoven with disembodiment. A culmination of Immanuel and Fukushima’s project for LTSC +LAB Artist Residency 2019, a local process to explore the shifting layers of body, ground, borders, and an internal landscape. A collaboration with choreographer Oguri, composer Sara Sithi-Amnuai, and a community ensemble.

A partnership with LTSC, JACCC, SLT. Funded in part by ArtPlace America.

Isak Immanuel and Marina Fukushima have worked together on several uniquely composed intergenerational dance performances. Focused on local/global questions of place, family, community, and instability, projects have been researched and presented in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally, including at Headlands Center for the Arts, NOHspace, CounterPulse, Kinosaki International Art Center, and TPAM (Tokyo/Yokohama Performing Arts Meeting). In 2018, they collaborated with locals to develop “THINGS EVAPORATE – dances of sickness and health” as artists-in-residence in Beppu, Japan.

Fukushima was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the U.S. in 1992. Specializing in dance, she received a BFA from Butler University (2001) and an MFA from the University of Iowa (2005).

Immanuel grew up in Taos, N.M. and East Los Angeles. He received a BFA in interdisciplinary practices from California College of the Arts (1999). He founded Tableau Stations, an intercultural arts platform, in 2004 (www.tableaustations.org).

Episode 3: Marissa Osato

Screening: May 3-9; Live Panel: May 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with Marissa Osato and Sara Sithi-Amnuai, and moderated by Scott Oshima

A new site-specific dance engages in an internal awakening to and reckoning with the shadows of history on the JACCC Plaza — the echoes of both ancestral and societal history, embodying the empty, hidden spaces, “ghost towns” in history and within the self; the invisible presence of those who came before; and the layered, continuing history of displacement, rebuilding, and repetition. The project takes the history of Bronzeville as a shared experience of structural racism at the intersection of Japanese American and Black communities in Los Angeles, and investigates experiences of isolation and invisibility, shedding and assimilation, reclamation and creation. As we move forward,—where do we go from here?

Marissa Osato, a Los Angeles native, is a choreographer, director, and dance educator who creates emotionally driven, embodied narratives through a sociocultural lens. Using a hybrid language of contemporary, modern, and hip-hop dance techniques, Osato’s choreography exhibits a sense of rhythm and dynamism, of groundedness and abandon, of stillness and intimacy. She is the co-founder/co-artistic director of Entity Contemporary Dance, an L.A.-based dance company rooted in a fusion of contemporary dance techniques that has taught workshops and performed original repertory in the U.S., Mexico, and Asia. Osato earned an MFA in choreography from California Institute of the Arts and a BA in dance and BA in literary journalism from UC Irvine.

As a dancer and choreographer represented by Clear Talent Group, Osato has worked with recording artists such as Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Deborah Cox and Jordin Sparks. She has taught and set choreography at over 50 studios and colleges across the U.S., and has taught master classes in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Guam, and South America. In 2019, Osato was selected for the Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works choreographic residency and the USC Kaufman New Movement Residency. In 2020, her evening-length work “The Spectacular Society” was commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow dance festival. Osato is currently an associate professor at Santa Monica College Dance Department. (www.marissaosato.com)

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