Photo: Yvan Cohen

Michael Sakamoto is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, educator, and curator active in dance, theatre, performance, media, photography, installation, and social practice. His works have been presented in 15 countries throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Recent performance tours include: Flash, a butoh/hip-hop duet with Rennie Harris; Soil (National Dance Project grantee), a dance theater trio with performers from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam/USA; and blind spot, an intermedia performance around personal identity and corporate militarism. Michael’s research and performance interests include contemporary imaginings of the butoh-based “body in crisis,” corporeal and mediated embodiments of self-reflection and social resistance, and performing the cultural commons and cultural sustainability. Current projects include Garden of the Wilis, a collaboration with former film, Broadway, and American Ballet Theatre star, George de la Peña, and classical new music composer-musician, Hyeyung Yoon, unpacking racial and gender privilege in the ballet and butoh bodies, and Our Utopia, a social practice collaboration with dance, gender, engineering, and education researchers and students at University of Massachusetts Amherst around race, gender, and social justice challenges in photography and cycling.

Michael has also produced, exhibited, and published numerous visual and media projects, including the photo essays MuNK, Nu Tong Gin Khao (with Waewdao Sirisook), and El Espiritu del Barrio Chino (with Paul Outlaw), the dancefilm, Abbey, featuring dancer Angela Betina Carlos, and the multimedia installation, Doctor Chi: An Architecture of Love and Paranoia.

Michael regularly publishes and presents his research in a wide range of anthologies and journals in dance and performance studies, Asian and Asian American studies, media studies, and other fields. His book, An Empty Room: Imagining Butoh and the Social Body in Crisis, narrating a journey through butoh history and practice into contemporary social theory, was released in 2022 from Wesleyan University Press. (Order here!)

Michael holds an MFA in Dance and PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA, is former Co-Director of Goddard College’s MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program and former tenure-track Assistant Professor in Dance at the University of Iowa. 

Michael currently serves as Performing Arts Curator and Asian and Asian American Arts and Cultures Program Director at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center.


Selected past presenters and venues:

Vancouver International Dance Festival
Dance Center of Columbia College-Chicago
Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University
Modlin Center, University of Richmond
Hancher Performances, University of Iowa
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
San Francisco International Butoh Festival
Audio Art Festival-Krakow
Gøteborg Art Sounds Festival
TACTFest Osaka
Jogja International Performance Festival
Nyoba-Kan Butoh Festival
Highways Performance Space
Intermedia Arts
Kelly-Strayhorn Theater