Program Type: 
YBCA and Kronos Performing Arts Association present
Eiko & Koma and Kronos Quartet


March 15, 2012 - March 17, 2012
YBCA Forum


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Kronos Performing Arts Association present
West Coast Premiere
Eiko & Koma and Kronos Quartet
Thu & Fri, Mar 15 & 16, 2012  •  5–9 pm
Sat, Mar 17, 2012   •  3–7 pm
YBCA Forum
$10 Regular/ FREE for YBCA members

YBCA celebrates Eiko & Koma's long history with Bay Area audiences, its venues, its community and its artists with a two week residency that includes two performance programs — Fragile, a performance installation in collaboration with Kronos Quartet and Regeneration, an evening of three iconic performance works.

Eiko & Koma and Kronos Quartet create a new intimate performance work, inspired by Eiko & Koma's latest living installation Naked (2010). Half stage piece and half installation, viewers are invited to experience the piece from multiple viewpoints within the space as the performers respond to each other through movement and sound, reflecting on the fragility of human existence.

Fragile was commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in commemoration of the Center's tenth anniversary, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Eiko & Koma's participation in the collaboration was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan Foundation’s Performing Arts JAPAN program. Kronos' participation in the collaboration was made possible by the Kronos Performing Arts Association and Inta, Inc.

Kronos' San Francisco Home Season is supported in part by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The Bernard Osher Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The full duration of each performance will be four hours. Attendees may stay for as long or short a period as they wish.

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  • Fragile
    Mar 15, 2012 5:00pm
    Mar 16, 2012 5:00pm
    Mar 17, 2012 3:00pm
    YBCA Forum

    The full duration of each performance will be four hours. Attendees may stay for as long or short a period as they wish.

  • Delicious Movement Workshop
    Mar 18, 2012 12:30pm – 3:00pm

    Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab  •  301 8th Street #200, SF, CA 94103
    $10 at the door (cash/check only, no advance payment)

    The workshop is grounded in Eiko and Koma's movement vocabulary as well as their compositional and performance techniques, which employ images, body articulation, floor work and transformation. However, the aim of the workshop is not to teach these. Rather, the participants, through their personal digestion of the material and of the improvisation and nonchalant partnership which supports it, are encouraged to acquire personal taste and flexible discipline to suit their own moving body. They are guided through a series of exercises designed to increase skills and awareness in the areas of focus, coordination and stance. Eiko and Koma hope each participant will develop lifelong pleasure in dancing any time, anywhere available to them, whether professionally or in their living room.

    SOLD OUT! Please join Eiko & Koma in their other public programs!

  • Leaders at the Lab: A Conversation with Eiko Otake
    Mar 18, 2012 4:00pm

    Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab  •  301 8th Street #200, SF, CA 94103

    Choreographers, dancers, dance-makers and enthusiasts are invited to attend this series of intimate conversations with choreographers from around the world. Discover and discuss the innovative models and career choices that some of today’s leading artists have developed to endure and flourish in the ever-changing climate of dance-making in our national and global cultures. Hosted by Margaret Jenkins at her Lab, these public events are free and will be followed by a reception. More details »

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Related Programs

March 22, 2012 - 8:00pm - March 24, 2012 - 8:00pm
YBCA Forum

YBCA celebrates Eiko & Koma's long history with a two-week residency that includes an exhibition/installation documenting their 40-year collaboration.

May 11, 2012 - May 12, 2012
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater

Women's Voices features works written specifically for Kronos Quartet including the world premiere of a new piece by Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, as well as three Bay Area premieres including Derek Charke’s Tundra Songs featuring Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

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Curator Statement

I think Land was the first piece I saw by Eiko and Koma. Oddly, I can’t remember the year. I can’t even remember the place, the theater, the city. But I will never forget how it affected me and how it launched me on my own journey of knowing and loving these two artists and their transformative brand of work we call dance.

To describe their work is to grasp for the incomprehensible. “Delicious movement’” is a workshop term they use, and it’s a pretty good one. Others describe their dance with words like “slow.” Beautiful. Slow. Naked. Slow. Intense. Slow. Above all, slow. Why is that aspect such a curiosity to us, their slowness?

Well, perhaps because so much of dance — and life — is about movement. Fast, often exuberant movement. Flurry and fury. I wonder sometimes if we keep moving so we don’t have to slow down and really look at ourselves, our lives and the world we are creating. Not just stop to smell the roses, as the cliché goes. But slow down enough to really go deep: to think more deeply, feel more deeply and know more deeply. That is the gift that the dance of Eiko and Koma gives us.

In participating in this retrospective of their 40-year career, you will have many chances to Reflect, the Big Idea that so fully captures the heart of their work. But reflection is not a passive activity. (It is no accident that their lives and work emanate from their radical anti-war activism in the ’60s.) People the world over have responded to the dance of these extraordinary artists with reflection, but also with activism. And this activism is what changes the world.

So don’t be fooled by slow. The energy in the slow of Eiko and Koma is what moves us. Forward.

Kenneth J. Foster
Executive Director

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Artist Bio

Eiko & Koma
Eiko (female) and Koma (male) were law and political science students in Japan when, in 1971, they each joined the Tatsumi Hijikata company in Tokyo. Their collaboration began as an experiment and then developed into an exclusive partnership. The following year, they started to work as independent artists in Tokyo and at the same time began to study with Kazuo Ohno, who along with Hijikata was the central figure in the Japanese avant-garde theatrical movement of the 1960s. Neither Eiko nor Koma studied traditional Japanese dance or theater forms, and have preferred to choreograph and perform only their own works.

Their interest in Neue Tanz, the German modern dance movement that flourished alongside the Bauhaus movement in art and architecture, and their desire to explore non-verbal theater took them to Hanover, Germany in 1972. There they studied with Manja Chmiel, a disciple of Mary Wigman. In 1973, they moved to Amsterdam, and for the next two years toured extensively in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Tunisia. It was the late Lucas Hoving, a wonderful dancer who had toured with the early José Limón Dance Company, who encouraged them to go to America.

The Japan Society sponsored the first American performance of Eiko & Koma's White Dance in May of 1976. Since then, they have presented their works at theaters, universities, museums, galleries and festivals across North America, Europe and Japan.

Eiko & Koma’s noted stage collaborations include Hunger (2008, with Cambodian painters-turned-performers Peace and Charian), Mourning (2007, with pianist Margaret Leng Tan), Cambodian Stories (2006, with the Reyum Painting Collective of young Cambodian artists), Be With (2001, with Anna Halprin and Joan Jeanrenaud), When Nights Were Dark (2000, with Joseph Jennings and a Praise Choir), the proscenium version of River (1997, with Kronos Quartet, who performed Somei Satoh’s commissioned score live), and Land (1991, with Robert Mirabal).

Eiko & Koma have also created and presented site works as free-admission events at dozens of sites for over 35,000 audience members. River takes place in a body of moving water. The Caravan Project, a “museum by delivery” installation, is performed in a specially modified trailer. Offering, premiered in Battery Park near Ground Zero in 2002, is a ritual in communal mourning. Tree Song was presented in the St Mark’s Church’s graveyard in 2003. Water, another collaboration with Robert Mirabal, was performed in a reflection pool with Henry Moore sculpture and opened 2011 Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival.

Kronos Quartet
For nearly 40 years, San Francisco's Kronos Quartet — David Harrington and John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello) — has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, the Grammy-winning Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential ensembles of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 45 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world’s most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning more than 750 new works and arrangements for string quartet. In 2011, Kronos became the only recipients of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize, two of the most prestigious awards given to musicians.

Since 1973, Kronos has built a compellingly eclectic repertoire for string quartet, performing and recording works by 20th century masters (Bartók, Shostakovich, Webern), contemporary composers (Aleksandra Vrebalov, John Adams, Alfred Schnittke), jazz legends (Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk), and artists from even farther afield (rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Azeri vocalist Alim Qasimov, interdisciplinary composer/performer Meredith Monk).

Integral to Kronos' work is a series of long-running, in-depth collaborations with many of the world's foremost composers. Kronos has worked extensively with composers such as the "Father of Minimalism," Terry Riley, whose work with Kronos includes Salome Dances for Peace, the multimedia production Sun Rings, and 2005's The Cusp of Magic; Philip Glass, recording his string quartets and scores to films like Mishima and Dracula; Azerbaijan’s Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, featured on the 2005 release Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh; Steve Reich, whose Kronos-recorded Different Trains earned the composer a Grammy; Argentina's Osvaldo Golijov, whose work with Kronos includes both compositions and extensive arrangements for albums like Kronos Caravan and Nuevo; and many more.

In addition to composers, Kronos counts numerous artists from around the world among its regular collaborators, including Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man; the legendary Bollywood "playback singer" Asha Bhosle; Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq; Mexican rockers Café Tacuba; the Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks; and the renowned American soprano Dawn Upshaw. Kronos has performed live with the likes of icons Allen Ginsberg, Zakir Hussain, Modern Jazz Quartet, Noam Chomsky, Rokia Traoré, Tom Waits, Howard Zinn, Betty Carter and David Bowie, and has appeared on recordings by such diverse talents as Nine Inch Nails, Amon Tobin, Dan Zanes, DJ Spooky, Dave Matthews, Nelly Furtado, Joan Armatrading and Don Walser.

A non-profit organization, the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association is committed to mentoring emerging musicians and composers, and to creating, performing, and recording new works. The quartet spends five months of each year on tour, appearing in concert halls, clubs, and festivals around the world including BAM Next Wave Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Barbican in London, WOMAD, UCLA's Royce Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Shanghai Concert Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. Kronos is equally prolific and wide-ranging on recordings. The ensemble's expansive discography on Nonesuch Records includes collections such as Pieces of Africa (1992), a showcase of African-born composers, which simultaneously topped Billboard's Classical and World Music lists; 1998's ten-disc anthology, Kronos Quartet: 25 Years; Nuevo (2002), a Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated celebration of Mexican culture; the 2003 Grammy-winner, Alban Berg's Lyric Suite; and Floodplain (2009), spotlighting music from regions of the world riven by conflict.

Kronos/YBCA Collaboration
The Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts entered into a multi-year partnership in the fall of 2010 in which YBCA would be Kronos' exclusive San Francisco home for concerts and experimentation for three seasons. Kronos and YBCA co-produce performance programs each season, and have co-commissioned three new works so far. In the 2010–2011 season, Kronos presented the program Black Angels, which included the world premiere of Sahba Aminikia’s String Quartet no. 3, A Threnody for Those Who Remain, commissioned for Kronos through this partnership. This was followed by A Chinese Home with guest performer Wu Man. In addition to the current commission, Fragile with Eiko & Koma, Kronos will present the program Women’s Voices in YBCA’s 2011–2012 season, featuring guest vocalist Tanya Tagaq and the world premiere of the newest commission, Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ’s All Clear.

"Kronos is thrilled to begin a three-year partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. We are inspired by the Center's programs and artistic vision, and we feel a great synergy in our mutual commitment to the creation and performance of new work. We are excited by the opportunity to deepen our relationship with YBCA and its audiences. Kronos has always loved performing at YBCA, and we look forward to planning very special programs and performances in our hometown."

—David Harrington, Artistic Director, Kronos Quartet


“The Kronos Quartet is one of the world’s leading string quartets, pushing the boundaries of contemporary music and constantly reinventing themselves through their explorations with artistic partners. YBCA is thrilled to celebrate this new venture with the Kronos Quartet — an organization that shares our vision and commitment to innovation—which is sure to delight music fans with new works and experimentations for several years to come.”

—Kenneth J. Foster, Executive Director, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Artists' Notes

About Fragile
I visited Eiko & Koma at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City to see their piece Naked, which was in development. I was totally unprepared for what I saw. I've never wept at a dance performance before. But there we were together: In a darkened space, their glacial nakedness had become a deeper expression than I remembered, much deeper and somehow more exposed. Their scope of expression had found more revealing forms since I first saw their work, in late 1995 or early 1996. I realized that I was witnessing an absolute center of life, where all layers of protection are removed, where time is irrelevant. Their performance had led me back once again to being a naked infant. The image I was left with was that we are all naked, aging infants in the face of the universe. Eiko & Koma's bodies had become metaphors for the universal, fragile nakedness we try to hide. Their bare skin and awesome, slow movements had become a story of communal privacy. To me this is the precise area where music is most alive.

Later Eiko said something that was perfect. She said, in her inimitable light and off-handed way, “Of course we don't really need music for our work.” What greater challenge can be issued to a group of musicians? Kronos is greatly looking forward to exploring together with Eiko & Koma.

— David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

Naked (2010) was a living installation commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In a gallery setting, both the environment we create and our moving bodies are subject to a much closer gaze by viewers than in a theater. We performed Naked in the Walker’s gallery six hours a day, every day during November 2010. We did not know who would come or when, or how long they would stay, so we did not choreograph durational time with a beginning, middle or end. A few feet away from strangers, we “breathed” time, one moment to the next.

During the summer of 2010, as we were preparing the installation, the members of Kronos came to see a work-in-progress rehearsal of Naked. In a small studio scattered with feathers and dirt, we lay down naked. When we uncurled, one by one our eyes met those of Kronos. All of them saw our aged, naked bodies intensely. Their comments helped us realize that Naked had potential beyond a gallery installation. By performing just for Kronos, we learned more about intimacy and nakedness. We realized these are what we had always wanted. We began thinking of Naked not only as a work we were creating for the Walker but as a central theme of our career, which we want to further pursue with Kronos.

At the time we planned to work with Kronos’ music for performing Naked. We imagined that performing hundreds of hours in museums would be a good occasion to listen to Kronos. David frequented our studio and sent us many music/sound suggestions from their repertoire, some of which we loved and rehearsed with. However, once we arrived at the Walker, we realized that Naked did not need any music after all. Taped music from carefully placed speakers was extraneous. The “silence” was never silent, and we as well as the audience listened to it intently for hours.

This particular collaboration was not about Kronos playing music that would “work,” nor about commissioning a composer to create a piece that would “suit” the concept. Rather, we desire to be with Kronos just as we are with the black feathers strewn about the set. Kronos would play live for naked Eiko & Koma for four hours in a manner, David says, that is different from anything they have ever done. “Like visiting an old friend in a hospital?” we asked.

“Will you choose music as a gift to naked bodies? Will each person sometimes talk to us? Will you sometimes abandon articulation? Will you sometimes faintly remember a long forgotten phrase?”

“Yes,” David said, and suggested Fragile as a title.

Kronos will create a variable by choreographing the soundscape. We will be the constant: naked and fragile, no climax, no drama, just an accumulation of naked moments, none more precious than the other. In that, listening might bring us tears and not-listening might bring us dreams. Sophisticated string quartet music might be extraneous to naked bodies, but surely not caring friends who visit our fragile selves.

— Eiko Otake, Eiko & Koma

Fragile was commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, in commemoration of the Center's tenth anniversary, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Eiko & Koma's participation in the collaboration was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan Foundation’s Performing Arts Japan program. Kronos' participation in the collaboration was made possible by the Kronos Performing Arts Association and Inta, Inc.

Eiko & Koma’s Retrospective is a project of Inta, Inc., produced by Sam Miller and made possible, in part, by major support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the Japan Foundation’s Performing Arts Japan program, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for reconstructions of early work was provided in part by the American Express Foundation.

Kronos' San Francisco Home Season is supported in part by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The Bernard Osher Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Novellus Systems

YBCA Performance 11–12 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 11–12:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
Cultural Services of the French Embassy
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

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