Choreographer Nomura Interprets WWII Japanese American Experience

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Gabrielle Nomura and Kai Berkedal in “Farewell, Shikata ga Nai.”

Gabrielle Nomura and Kai Berkedal in “Farewell, Shikata ga Nai.”

SEATTLE — Seattle-based dancer and choreographer Gabrielle Nomura has collaborated with Seattle Kokon Taiko to create a new dance piece that tells the story of the Japanese Ameri­can World War II experience.

“As the the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, we couldn’t be more pleased to support Gabrielle’s new work, which is both an artistic en­deavor that she will present with her company, Relay Dance Collective, as well as a community-building project with a strong social justice statement,” said Toshiko Hasegawa, president of the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.

This work is made possible by two generous grants: one from the Seattle JACL, and the other provided through the City of Seattle’s smART Ventures program.

The 18-minute interdisciplinary dance piece, which deals with the forced removal and incarceration of 120,000 West Coast Japanese Ameri­cans during the 1940s, enlists the talents of an all-Asian American cast of dancers and actors. Live music featured in the piece is provided by Seattle Kokon Taiko, led by Stanley Shikuma.

“As the descendant of Nisei and Sansei incarcerated during World War II, this is a deeply personal project for me,” said Nomura, a fifth-generation Japanese Ameri­can. “I used different ancestors for inspiration, from my patriotic great-grandparents who eagerly pledged allegiance to the United States, to the longing for justice by people like my grandfather, whose first home was a horse stall in the Santa Anita Racetrack assembly center.”

The piece is being performed a handful of times in 2014, including the 92nd annual JACL banquet at Seattle University (March 21); Relay Dance Collective’s Season II performance, “Beginnings” (April 11-13); the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival (April 27); API Heritage Month (May 4); and Wing Luke Asian American Museum (June 7).

For more information, go to re­laydance.org.

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