Dance Performance Recalls Uprooting of Terminal Island Community

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A site-specific interdisciplinary performance of “When Dreams Are Interrupted” will be presented by the Purple Moon Dance Project and Artistic Director Jill Togawa on Saturday, June 23, at 12 noon at the Japanese American National Museum’s Aratani Hall, 100 N. Central Ave, (entrance on First Street), Los Angeles.

“When Dreams Are Interrupted” uncovers the profound imprint left on a neighborhood by the forced removal and detention of Japanese American communities in 1942. Dancers Togawa, Arisika Razak, Ruth Ichinaga and Sharon Sato will remember the lives of those abruptly banished from the fishing village of Terminal Island, and hastily uprooted from the vibrant city life of Little Tokyo and outlying areas of Los Angeles.

The performance will commence at the close of the APIA (Asian Pacific Islander American) National Historic Preservation Forum, and guests are invited in for the free performance and to learn about historic preservation efforts building across the nation. Guests will receive a visitor’s day pass for the museum.

The theme of the 2012 APIA National Historic Preservation Forum, to be held from June 21 to 23, is “Safeguarding and Sharing our American Stories.” Asian Pacific Islanders Historic Preservation (apiHiP), which held its inaugural conference in June 2010, is working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to preserve the past of communities across the country and to inform the future.

A scene from the Berkeley performance in 2009. (Photo by Theresa Thadani)

The San Francisco-based Purple Moon Dance Project originally presented “When Dreams Are Interrupted” in the Bay Area. It weaves together community history, personal stories, dance, visual art, and live music. In each location where the piece is performed, layers are added to bring awareness to the specific experience of that place and the people whose lives were impacted. Choreographer Togawa collaborated with visual artist Ellen Bepp, composer/musicians Claudia Cuentas and Laura Inserra, and others.

“When I moved to South Berkeley … I discovered the vibrant Japanese community that lived here before the internment and in a chance meeting, learned about the Nakazawa family, who had lived on the property where I now live,” Togawa explained. “I also learned that people of color could only buy or rent homes in this part of Berkeley for many years. I saw that there were still traces of this community around me in two Japanese churches, several gardens, and some of the current residents.

“As I heard more stories of this community, I became inspired to create a work that would pay tribute to their personal stories incorporated into dance, music, and visual art … Through these stories we may better understand how our lives are often invisibly connected, just as I felt that, somehow, the Nakazawas paved the way for me to arrive with my family more than 60 years later.”

Donations will be accepted. RSVP to Jill Shiraki at [email protected] or call JANM at (213) 625-0414. For more information on the performance, visit www.whendreamsareinterrupted.org. For more information on the forum, visit www.apinhpforum.org.

Touring support is provided by the California Council for the Humanities California Stories Fund, California Arts Council, and The California Endowment. Initial funding by: California Arts Council, California Council for the Humanities-California Stories Fund, California State Library–Civil Liberties Public Education Program, East Bay Community Foundation-East Bay Fund for Artists, Grants for the Arts/SF Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA), Horizons Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The California Endowment.

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