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March 05, 2012

Fragile at YBCA - Eiko & Koma and the Kronos Quartet

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts celebrates Eiko & Koma’s long history with Bay Area audiences, its venues, its community and its artists with a two-week residency entitled Retrospective Project documenting their 40-year collaboration.  In the first week of their residency YBCA and the Kronos Performing Arts Association co-present the West Coast premiere of Fragile, a performance installation by Eiko & Koma and the Kronos Quartet. In the second week YBCA presents Regeneration, an evening of three of Eiko & Koma’s most iconic performance works.

Eiko & Koma’s multi-year Retrospective Project is an evolving examination of the pair’s collaboration of four decades. “The goal of the Retrospective Project,” says Koma, “is not to look back and summarize the past, but within the eternal present to discover ways we can move forward as artists.”  Since 2009 the pair has been touring Retrospective Project in varying incarnations. The project includes video documentaries, several pieces from their repertoire, as well as two new performance works, Raven and Water, and two living installations, Naked and Fragile.

In Fragile, to be presented March 15-17, Eiko & Koma and Kronos Quartet create an intimate performance work, half stage piece and half living installation, that viewers are invited to experience from multiple viewpoints. Fragile allows attendees to stay as long or as short as they wish in unaccustomed proximity to the performers, or remain seated tentatively on the periphery. 

David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet is conceiving the musical setting for Fragile, drawing on different pieces from its nearly four-decade long repertoire that vary each time the installation is performed.  “Fragile reflects on the ideas of nakedness and fragility in a way which has been powerfully moving for me as a musician,” says Harrington.  “Eiko and Koma’s bodies become metaphors for the universal, fragile nakedness we try to hide. Their bare skin and awesome, slow movements become a story of communal privacy. To me this is the precise area where music is most alive.”

Fragile builds on the successful multi-year partnership launched between YBCA and Kronos in 2010. Since then, Kronos and YBCA have co-produced performances each season, and have co-commissioned three new works. Works presented have included George Crumb’s Black Angels, the world premiere of Sahba Aminikia’s String Quartet no. 3, A Threnody for Those Who Remain, and A Chinese Home with guest performer Wu Man. In addition to Fragile, Kronos will present Women’s Voices May 11-12, 2012, featuring guest vocalist Tanya Tagaq and the world premiere of YBCA and the Kronos Quartet’s co-commission, Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ’s All Clear.

The second week of Eiko & Koma’s residency is devoted to a performance of three iconic works from their repertoire, together titled Regeneration. The evening begins with their latest stage work, Raven (2010), a haunting duet that unfolds on scorched canvas strewn with black feathers, and ends with a distilled version of White Dance (1976), the first piece they made together and their first to be shown in America. In between they reprise Night Tide (1984), a jewel-like example of the way body and landscape blend. The dance was inspired by the story of two mountains who make love in the middle of the night and have to return home before morning light.

The influence Eiko & Koma have had on Bay Area art of the last several decades cannot easily be measured, and their Retrospective Project testifies to the indelible impression they have left.  Starting in the late 70s, Eiko & Koma made San Francisco their second home for a few months each year, presenting a total of 11 programs consisting of 14 works in 12 different venues, and collaborating with a wide swathe of Bay Area artists including Joseph Krysiak, Irene and Paul Oppenheim, Patty Ann Farrell, Kazu Yanagi, Bob Carroll, George Coates, Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings, Kronos Quartet, Anna Halprin, and Joan Jeanrenaud. 

Learn more and purchase tickets here.

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