TRAVELOGUE – "A Page Out of Order OVERLAND"

The summer of 2006 was a period of evolution for Yoshiko Chuma's masterwork, "A Page Out of Order." Company members traveled to Albania, Macedonia and Japan for an intensive summer of collaborations with dancers, musicians and a creative design team.

Tirana, Albania June 19, 2006: Dancers, producers and technical staff, including Yoshiko Chuma in center, and US Embassy cultural staff

"A Page Out of Order OVERLAND" was created and performed in both Albania and Macedonia, as an original multi-media performance with music, dance and film, inspired by the 1927 classic Japanese silent film "A Page out of Madness." Each project integrated components from the host country. In Albania, the project used archival music and included collaborating with local contemporary dancers. In Macedonia, US artists paired with a five-piece band, Zlust and a group of dancers, designers and producers.

This project brought the troupe to Albania for the first time, and also for the first time to Muslim communities in Macedonia.

Yoshiko Chuma in front of the glorious, historical Balkan Mountains. A serene scene, but the site of centuries of countless wars and conflict, near the border of Albania and Macedonia. July 21, 2006

Artist/collaborator Iskra Sukarova, of Skopje, Macedonia, was one main local catalyst for the project. Sukarova had worked with Yoshiko Chuma and Bonnie Stein (Executive Director of The School of Hard Knocks and GOH Productions) in various projects since 1996. Yoshiko Chuma found herself returning to post-refugee Macedonia at a time when the arts are thriving and visited new Muslim communities in the region in both Macedonia and Albania.

She found Albania in a similarly vital period. Albania is witnessing the birth of many new artistic initiatives as it emerges from Communist-era isolation and post-communist political and economic instability.

Macedonia, rehearsing in the Chifte Amam, a former Turkish bathhouse, that is now the museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje, June 2006

The artistic team from New York--Yoshiko Chuma, Ursula Eagly, Christopher Williams, Saori Tsukada, Bonnie Stein (producer)--was joined in the project by an artistic and production team from Albania: three dancers from Albanian Dance and Theatre Company (ADTC), choreographer Gjergy Prevazi; and a lighting designer, sound designer, and stage Manager from the National Theatre in Tirana. Seven-foot cubes were constructed by Tani, a local contractor; and the project received extensive support from the US Embassy and their staff in Albania: Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski, (cultural attaché/ Assistant Public Affairs Officer) and Mirela Cupi (Program Officer) and Edi Jacellari (Office Manager), and the Honorable Ambassador Marcie Ries.

Dancer Christopher Williams with the US Ambassador Marcie Ries and Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski in Tirana, Albania after the performance on June 19,2006

Two performances in Albania were attended by Ambassador Marcie Ries, who was delighted with the events and called for more cultural exchange projects between US and Albania. Support at the National Theater was possible by the generosity of the director, Armando. An intensive workshop was open to other dancers in the community for one morning during this rehearsal period. Rehearsals ran from 5 to 10 hours daily.

Following the Albanian project, the company traveled "overland" from Albania to Macedonia, which is the only possible way to cross the border. A hired bus took dancers and stage props to Macedonia, where the company of visiting artists conducted workshops in Muslim town of Tetovo on June 27, and rehearsed and performed in three other venues. Students from all the workshops attended rehearsals and performances by the company in a spirit of exchange, which required patience and a careful communication process.

Yoshiko Chuma and Macedonian dancer, Iskra Sukarova, in rehearsals at the Macedonia Opera and Ballet Theater in Skopje, with projections of "Before the Rain," a film by Milcho Manchevski which was used in the performance.

"A Page Out of Order: OVERLAND" was presented in the Skopje Summer Festival on Friday, July 7, at the Macedonian Opera and Ballet Theatre. The work later was performed at the House of Culture in Kumanovo on Tuesday, July 11 and at the Ohrid Summer Festival Outdoors, near St. Sofija Church in Ohrid, on Saturday, July 15. All the workshops and performances were supported by grants from the Macedonia US Embassy, the US Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and The Trust for Mutual Understanding, among others.

Two highly capable and enthusiastic women headed the Macedonia-based US Embassy's support team: Jeanne Clark, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, and Borka Taneska, Cultural Exchange Assistant. Ms. Clark provided a gentle and steady hand assisting the producers, Biljana Tanurovska of Lokomotiva (MK) and Bonnie Stein (USA), in budgeting and local promotion.

 

The audience in Osaka, Japan at the Black Chamber theater on August 12, 2006, perofrmance of A PAGE OUT OF ORDER.

On to Japan

In August, there were further developments and performances in Osaka, Tokyo and Niigata, Japan. Yoshiko Chuma worked with musicians and dancers from the USA, Macedonia, Japan, Cambodia and Manipur (a state in northeastern India) to workshop another phase of the project, which incorporates local Japanese histories and additional musical styles.

Photos from the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial Festival in Japan at the site of the performance by School of Hard Knocks at Matsudai village. An architect was commissioned to design and build a space for the festival and Yoshiko Chuma was commissioned to adapt her performance to the designed space. The photos depict rehearsals and the outside of the building.

 

"A PAGE OUT OF ORDER/JAPAN" workshops and public event schedule:

August 12: Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial, Matsudai, Niigata Prefecture

August 18: Osaka Black Chamber Theater, Opening of Culture Carnival 2006

August 20-22: Asahi Art Square, Tokyo

 

"A PAGE OUT OF ORDER" COLLABORATORS

The international team of US, Japanese, Albanian and Macedonian collaborators worked tirelessly to realize the Summer and Fall 2006 phases of the project, and to bring artists overseas and overland to work together. Pictures and words only offer a peek into hundreds of daily stories and experiences of the over 40 participants. The enormous list of project contributors is daunting and exciting, as each one represents a team of individuals who are passionate about "cultural exchange" and who make the work happen in spite of countless challenges and obstacles.

We offer this list to you as a mirror and a resource, and to honor our collaborators from the corners of the earth:

Presenters and Funders

"A Page Out of Order" is a co-production between Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks (USA), GOH Productions (New York/USA), Beagle Inc. (Tokyo/Japan), and Lokomotiva-Centre for new Initiatives in Arts and Culture (Skopje/Macedonia), in partnership and collaboration with: National Theater of Albania, Skopje Summer Festival, Macedonian Opera and Ballet, Macedonian National Gallery -Chifte Amam, Site for Visual Culture, Skopje, Centre for Balkan Cooperation LOJA, Tetovo, Macedonian Cinémathèque, The City of Kumanovo Cultural Center, Amrita Arts (Cambodia), and Somi Roy (Manipur/USA). Additional support is from The Trust for Mutual Understanding (USA), Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the USA Embassy/Albania, the USA Embassy/Macedonia, Japan Foundation's Performing Arts Japan Program, Saison Foundation (Japan), Japan Commemoration of Expo '70, New York State Council on the Arts, Altria Group Inc. and The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Plus legions of volunteers from Albania, Macedonia, Japan, Cambodia and Manipur.
In the USA in 2006, the work continues during residencies at Dance Theater Workshop, in the Resident Artists Program 2006/07 of Mabou Mines/Suite and at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.