Work-in-progress performance project
Written, choreographed, and performed by George de la Peña and Michael Sakamoto
directing consultant – Asher Hartman
Music – Hyeyung Yoon
Garden of the Wilis (working title) is a dance theater work blending both uplifting and oppressive legacies in ballet and butoh dance with contemporary media culture’s hyper-personalized desires. Former American Ballet Theatre, Broadway, and movie actor-dancer George de la Peña and dance theater/media artist Michael Sakamoto perform their real and imagined lives in tension with digital age values of immediacy, virtuality and customized audiencing.We mix memoir, history and fiction, tracing connections between such influences as Vaslav Nijinsky (performed by de la Peña in the Hollywood movie), butoh founder Hijikata Tatsumi, ballet’s orientalism, butoh’s body fetishism, and young artists’ need for multicultural voices, to face paradoxes in our cis-het male identities in the era of #metoo, anti-Asian violence, post-gender politics, and neo-fascism, while maintaining dance’s potential to enliven and transform.
George de la Peña is a performer, director, choreographer, and educator researching movement, cognition and emotion to critically examine the human condition. Hailed by Arlene Croce as one of “the finest Petrushkas I’ve seen,” he was soloist with American Ballet Theatre, performed the lead in the Hollywood film, Nijinsky, and has worked with George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martha Clarke, Peter Sellars, Alonzo King, Kenneth MacMillan, Dwight Rhoden, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp and many others. George has worked on Broadway and in film/television for 40 years, winning a Drama League Award-Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.
Hyeyung Yoon (composer-musician) was a member of the acclaimed Chiara Quartet for 18 years, collaborates with leading classical new music artists and co-founded Asian Musical Voices of America.
Asher Hartman (co-director) is contemporary theatre artist and filmmaker whose work explores identity through Western histories and ideologies. His work has been presented nationwide and in seven countries, including at Walker Art Center, Hammer Museum, USC, LACMA, LACE, Rencontres International, and Beijing Open Performance.