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Yoshiko Chuma

New York, NY   

YOSHIKO CHUMA is the artistic director of the School of Hardknocks. She has created more than 60 full-length performance works for theatres and site-specific venues with her company and as commissioned works throughout the world. The School of Hard Knocks, which takes its name from the American idiom meaning to learn things the hard way, was the title of the company’s first production, for which Chuma collaborated with Alvin at the 1980 Venice Biennale. Chuma has also collaborated with Christian Marclay throughout 1979-1984. Chuma was commissioned by Tan Dun to direct and choreograph his first opera “Nine Songs” in 1989. Chuma has since collaborated with musicians/composers such as Lenny Pickett, Nona Hendrix, Mark Bennett and Marc Ribot, Chuma has collaborated with William Parker since the first Vision Festival 18 years ago, where Chuma was a special guest choreographer.


Chuma has worked across the globe since the 1980s, in regions off the beaten path, taking her work to East/Central Europe since 1985, and beyond. She was the first US artist invited to work with classically trained dancers in Budapest, Hungary, when contemporary dance was in early development. Known as a firebrand in the downtown NY dance scene, Chuma brought her vision and creativity to that region and since has spearheaded workshops, collaborative residencies, original creations, and choreographed numerous works in collaboration with artists in the USA, East/Central Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. She was a pioneer in bringing US artists to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, and Palestine among others. Most recently, she completed 6 Seconds in Ramallah, a collaboration with El-Funoun (Palestinian dance company) performed at festivals in Jordan and Palestine.


Chuma is attracted to the ordinary existence of humanity, how it transcends culture and is impervious to the threat of annihilation. She seeks intellectual and sensory interaction through integration. Her work has been called "choreographed chaos"-she intentionally avoids presenting an ordered universe in her work as she doesn’t see an ordered universe in life. Chuma is interested in the personal issues of everyday life and how they affect survival.


 Chuma is the recipient of fellowships and awards for choreography and career work from: John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for Artists, Japan Foundation, Meet the Composer Choreographer/Composer Commissions, Philip Morris New Works. She received a 1984 BESSIE award for choreography, four BESSIES were awarded to her company productions and artists 1987-1998 and a 2007 BESSIE for Sustained Achievement. Chuma was Artistic Director of the Daghdha Dance Company in Limerick, Ireland from 2000-2003.


A selection of works: “POOM² A Page Out of Order M to M” (2008), RED CARPET 1967 (Lincoln Center Out of Doors 2007), PAGE OUT OF ORDER M (DTW/NY, Japan, Sibiu, Romania 2007) PAGE OUT OF ORDER OVERLAND (Albania and Macedonia 2006), SUNDOWN (2006); “Tivoli Project” (2006); 7x7x7x7x7 (River to River:2005), “7 X 7 X 7 School of Hard Knocks Hits Manhattan” (Central Park SummerStage, HOWL/PS 122 (2004); “7 x 7 x 7 Japan” (2004), YELLOW ROOM (2003), Tunnel (2002); Agitprops: The Recycling Project (2002); 10,000 Steps (2002-03); PI=3.14… (2002), Solos with a Phonograph (2001), Reverse Psychology (2000-2), Footprints of War (1999-00), The Living Room Project (1996- ), Unfinished Symphony (1998), Crash Orchestra (1995). Artists who have collaborated with Chuma include: Christian Marclay (Five Car Pile-Up), Alex Katz (Eager Witness), Elizabeth Murray (A boy, a beer, and a blonde), Yvonne Jacquette, Nona Hendryx (The Big Picture), Lenny Pickett (Human Voice), Tan Dun (Nine Songs, Jo Ha Kyu), Mark Bennett, Robert Een, Aska Kaneko (Unfinished Symphony), Christopher McIntyre (Sundown). “The School of Hard Knocks" was the title of the first collaboration between Chuma, Jacob Burckhardt (filmmaker) and Alvin Curran (musician) presented by 1980 Venice Biennale.

Rove: A Workshop with Yoshiko Chuma and Jodi Melnick

50 Dancers researched movement with Yoshiko Chuma and Jodi Melnick in January 2018. The process was guided by Chuma’s movement practice and physical experiences across borders of over 50 countries, specifically passing over the borders of Afghanistan. This performance is the result of this cross-cultural collaboration led by Chuma.

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‘A Piano’ by Yoshiko Chuma & Matthew Shipp at Vision Festival 20

Yoshiko Chuma (dance) and Matthew Shipp (piano) collaborated on this improvisational production at Vision Festival 20.

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“Dead End Falling – Secret Journey” by Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks

Excerpts from “Dead End Falling – Secret Journey” by Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks. Filmed by Chani Bockwinkel in July 2017.

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