SOCIAL DISTANCE DANCE VIDEO: The Dance Enthusiast's Moving Visions Editor, Francesca Harper, Curates Willy Laury's "Aurum I: A Memory Film," Featuring Eriko Iisaku
Francesca Harper Features Young Artists Whose Work Inspires Her
I met Eriko Iisaku over 10 years ago when she moved to New York from Japan. She was a dancer in one of my commissions for the Alvin Ailey school. I created a hybrid work that utilized text, and I asked everyone to write the first thing that came to mind.
On a piece of paper, Eriko wrote, “I don’t want to speak.”
As the piece developed, I noticed that Eriko’s power was not in what she said but in her silence as she moved. She spoke through her dancing, she whispered and screamed through her movement -- communicating volumes.
The night of our premiere, when it came time for her solo, I wept, which was a rarity for me (at that the time, a young ambitious creator.) There was something Eriko understood about what I needed to say, and I was touched by her empathy and care.
We have gone on to work for over 10 years together. She has served not only as a dancer, muse, collaborator, and rehearsal director, but now as program director for my company. I am also so proud that Eriko has found her own voice, creating her own work and projects.
What more could you hope for in a lifetime but to mentor and then work alongside a friend, artist, and collaborator? — Francesca Harper, The Dance Enthusiast's Moving Visions Editor 2021
From THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST ASKS: Maleek Washington, Eriko Iiskaku & Sam Pratt On Special Relationships in Dance by Sammi Lim
Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: We are celebrating Francesca Harper’s history and body of work this season. How would you describe her and her oeuvre of work?
Eriko Iisaku: Fran has always given me, and other artists, the freedom to make our own choices in expressing ourselves to ultimately transmit our personal message to the audience. As a result, the people who get to experience Fran’s work are able to decipher the real meaning and relate on a human level. She cherishes each and every artist’s individual story and feelings. Sometimes, we would sit in the studio talking and listening to each other for hours without even dancing. There were some uncomfortable and intense moments, tears, conflict and laughter during those conversations, and I believe that this process is very important for herself and her artists to bring authenticity into the movement so that the audience is able to connect with us on a deeper level.
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From IMPRESSIONS: A Trio of Dance Films Curated by MOVING VISIONS Editor Francesca Harper, Featuring Maleek Washington's "Shadow," Willy Laury's "Aurum I: A Memory Film," and Baye & Asa's "Second Seed" by Cecly Placenti
Willy Laury, choreographer, and Max R. A. Fedore, director, with their artistic team, explore the idea of collective memory in a sci-fi world that would be challenging to create for the proscenium stage. Here, four telepaths are summoned to participate in a sacred ritual. Communicating without speaking, touching, or always being in the same room, they unite to choose a new vessel who will preserve the memory of humankind. For fans of the TV series Sense8. Fedore pulls us into the action in much the same manner. In rapid cuts, from scene to scene, the characters psychically experience each other’s lives.
A tattoo of small circles on each of the telepath’s arms binds them. Standing in front of a hotel mirror, Eriko Iisaku lifts her arms to cover her face. As she caresses her tattoo, Laury, in a park far away, does the same. When he breaks his shape, Iisaku dissolves her arms in bewilderment.
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ERIKO IISAKU began her dance training with her mother, Yoshimi Iisaku. In 2006, she moved to New York and entered The Ailey School as a Fellowship student for four years. She has trained at Jacob's Pillow Contemporary Tradition and ADF (American Dance Festival). Eriko has had the opportunity to perform works choreographed by Francesca Harper , Sonia Dawkins, Iquiail Shaheed, Edger Zendejas, Helen Pickett, and appeared in Alvin Ailey's Memoria at New York City center in 2007-2009. She has performed with Dallas Black Dance Theater, New Ballet Ensemble as a Guest Artist, Eikichi Yazawa ''Still Rockin'' concert tour as a featured dancer, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and International Tanz Gala in Graz Austria. Eriko has served as Rehearsal Director/Company Member of The Francesca Harper Project since 2010.