Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our History with Peru

Peru....The company has a 10 year history with Peru.  I was first asked to go to Peru by the US State Department when the director of the National Ballet of Peru was in search of a contemporary choreographer.  The director, Olga Shimasaki is a gifted Japanese Peruvian dance artist.  The Japanese Peruvians are similar to the plantation Japanese and Koreans of Hawaii in that they immigrated to Peru to be agricultural workers at the turn of the last century.  They have since become very involved in the arts landscape of Peru from dance to the visual and plastic arts.  Peru is a great love of mine because I don't think there is any other country in the world where an Asian immigrant family's child could have become President.  Fujimori was a fascinating individual that represents the cultural openness and fluidity of the Peruvian psyche.

After my first travels to Peru when I set repertory work on the ballet, I returned to create Accoralada or corralled to a live orchestra.  It was my first experience with a full live orchestra, an experience which is almost unheard of anymore in dance in America due to cost limitations of the music union.  I learned so much and even collaborated with a Japanese Peruvian visual artist on the set design.  I was in a constant deja vu state in Lima because it felt so much like Santa Fe, NM where I grew up, also a colony of Spain, that I returned through two consecutive Fulbrights to make works for the San Marcos Ballet where I also taught modern dance.  It is directed by a wonderful ex-pat named Vera Stasny whom after a Fulbright stayed in Lima. My company came down each trip to tour all over Peru.  We have wonderful friends from Arequipa to Cuzco.  I felt so strongly about the incredible artist there that we assisted in sponsoring the first tour of the National Ballet to the Kennedy Center and have hosted many Peruvian dance artists to DC since.  I believe that the best American dance programs are reciprocal.  Friendships should be maintained for years to come and so I am very proud of the company's continued relations with the Peruvian community of dance.  The fundamental component of arts diplomacy is to create lasting friendship through which we can better understand a global perspective.  I can honestly say that I am still inspired by Peru and our repertory work Chino Latino about  Asian Latino immigration relationships is still one of my favorite works.  It demystifies how Asian and Latin cultures have historically worked together and is set to historic music scores from all over Latin and South America that reference Asian communities living in Latin counties.  No wonder my nickname as a child was "Chino"!

-- Dana

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