2016 SEED Artist: Aretha Aoki

Aretha Aoki photo by Jim ColemanAretha Aoki is a performer, choreographer, and teaching artist based in Northampton, MA. As a performer, Aoki has worked with many national choreographers including Rebecca Serrell Cyr, devynn emory, robbinschilds, Vanessa Anspaugh, Heather Kravas, Juliette Mapp, Daria Fain, Maura Donohue, Elizabeth Ward, Martin Lanz, Faye Driscoll, Lisa D’Amour & Katie Pearl, and others. She collaborated and performed with Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance for seven years.

As a choreographer, Aoki’s work has been performed in various venues throughout New York City and New England. The New York Times dance listing has described her solos as “contemplative and probing.” The impulse for her next piece, New, comes from an ongoing practice started in 2014 that she describes as “letting the ghosts come in the space of performance.” She developed New through spring and summer residencies in 2016 at VPL and Studio 303 in Montréal as part of a dance residency exchange between New England and Québec.

Drawing on her Japanese heritage, family stories and memories, Aoki created text and an improvisational movement score to become, as she says, “a medium for the residue of family history.” While at VPL, Aoki collaborated with visual and sound design artist Ryan MacDonald, and in late April 2016, a work-in-progress of New was co-presented with the School for Contemporary Dance and Thought in Northampton, MA.

Since 2006, VPL has hosted over 80 residencies