MacArthur Fellows Program

Eiko and Koma Otake

Dancers and Choreographers | Class of 1996

Dancers and Choreographers
New York, New York
44 at time of award
Area of Focus
Choreography and Dance
Published July 1, 1996

About Eiko and Koma’s Work

Eiko (female) and Koma (male) are dancers and choreographers who have created an unusual theater of movement that engenders beautiful and mysterious images.


Their collaboration began as an experiment in 1972 in their native Japan and then developed into an exclusive partnership.  They had worked during the early 1970s with Japanese experimentalists, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, whom they continue to revere as teachers, and then in Germany with Manja Chmiel, a disciple of Neue Tanz exponent Mary Wigman.  Their artistry marries a non-Western sense of time and space with expressionist theatricality.  Often moving very slowly, but with considerable intensity, in visual environments of their own design, they create abstract shapes that blur the boundaries of animal, vegetable, and mineral, and suggest that the landscape is as alive as its inhabitants.  Among the more than two-dozen performance works they have created in America are White Dance (1976), Grain (1983), Thirst (1985), Tree (1988), Land (1991), Wind (1993), and River (outdoor environmental version, 1995), When Nights Are Dark (2000), Be With (2001), Offering (2002), and Tree Song (2004).

Eiko and Koma’s performance pieces have been performed at festivals, universities, and museums throughout the world.

Eiko and Koma are the first collaborative pair to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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