Since 2012, I am involved in and managing “Eastern Connection”, a Romanian – Japanese collaboration project in the field of contemporary dance, developed between 2013-2015, gathering artists, producers, programmers and dance writers, initiated by Romanian choreographer Cosmin Manolescu. The project represents the first cooperation platform in the field of dance between Romania and Japan and aims at facilitating and stimulating the connection between contemporary dance communities from the two countries. The project is led by Gabriela Tudor Foundation in Bucharest. The main Japanese partner has been Aoyama Theatre. Associate partners are Kinosaki International Art Centre and Temps d’Images Festival in Cluj.

PHASE 1: FIRST ENCOUNTER. The pilot phase of the project took place at ZonaD – Serial Paradise studio in Bucharest between August 26 – September 23, 2013, with the participation of the following Japanese and Romanian professionals: Zan Yamashita (choreographer), Mikiko Kawamura (choreographer), Shinji Ono (producer of Dance Triennale in Tokyo & programme director of Aoyama Theatre, Tokyo), Norikoshi Takao (dance critic & writer), Ayako Miyake (manager) // Cosmin Manolescu (choreographer & manager, project initiator), Mihaela Dancs (choreographer/ performer), Mihaela Michailov (dance critic, dramaturge), Ștefania Ferchedău (ZonaD/ Eastern Connection manager), Miki Braniște (director of Temps d’Images festival in Cluj). The pilot phase included:

> A workshop-audition led by Zan Yamashita, leading to the selection of choreographer Mihaela Dancs, who joined the project as a result.
> A reflection platform focusing on artistic collaboration context, trends and needs of Japanese and Romanian artistic communities, and challenges of international collaboration.
> An artistic research residency gathering choreographers Zan Yamashita, Cosmin Manolescu, Mikiko Kawamura, concluded with a process sharing at ZonaD. The residency included daily working sessions, improvisations, and working trips.
> A series of connected events events: open presentations of projects held by Japanese and Romanian participants, lectures on Japanese and Romanian contemporary dance by critics Takao Norikoshi and Mihaela Michailov, (anti) aging performance by Madalina Dan & Mihaela Dancs.

The development of the artistic collaboration has been the pillar of Eastern Connection in 2014. Choreographers Cosmin Manolescu and Zan Yamashita, as main project artists, together with performer Mihaela Dancs and dance critic Takao Norikoshi, as associate artists, have worked for a month in a group research format dedicated to the development of a Romanian/ Japanese collaboration. Two projects have been developed, “the kite”, directed by Cosmin Manolescu, and “Don’t let me down”, created by Zan Yamashita and Mihaela Dancs, and have been presented as works in progress on September 16 and 17, 2014 in the frame of Dance the New Air organised by Aoyama Theatre in Tokyo. The working periods took place at Kinosaki International Art Centre (August 16-21) and Morishita studio in Tokyo (August 25 to September 15). Two open events were held at Kinosaki International Art Centre (August 20), respectively at Aoyama Theatre, Tokyo (September 13), focusing on Eastern Connection with participation of involved artists. Choreographer Cosmin Manolescu also gave a workshop open to Japanese participants in the frame of Dance New Air Festival.

The continuation of Eastern Connection in 2015/2016 is based on the development of artistic collaboration in 2014, as well as the extension of the partnership within the project, through a residency period at Kinosaki International Arts Centre in September 2015. The activities in 2015/2016 capitalize the findings of the first two project years, give shape to the artistic collaboration, which will enter final production and will be premiered and bring the results of the project in front of the audiences in Romania, through a dedicated Eastern Connection showing, including:
> The premiere of “the kite” piece by Cosmin Manolescu, and of “what is contemporary dance” artistic documentary by Tania Cucoreanu & Cosmin Manolescu
> Kite and dance workshop for children at Replika Educational Theatre Centre.
> Presenting “NAMAEGANAI”, the latest work by Zan Yamashita.
> Lectures/ artist talks involving participating artists, Japanese producer Maki Miyakubo.
> Publishing an Eastern Connection newspaper, including articles, essays, interviews, edited by Ștefania Ferchedău, with contributions from the Romanian and Japanese writers, Elena Vlădăreanu and Takao Norikoshi.

Watch the video documentation of the first phase of Eastern Connection in Romania:

To learn more about Eastern Connection activities visit the dedicated category ZonaD blog.

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