Ayako Kato creates dance works to illuminate aspects of humanity and to reveal the dignity of life through movement in response to contemporary society. Gravitating towards an eastern and Japanese view of nature, Kato’s work enhances the perspective that humans are a part of nature and nature itself, which brings both our personal identity and equity to light.
To physically embody her goal, Kato seeks to express the forces of nature that exist in the human body and in the environment. To express and unite the transformative forces that circulate between the two, she prepares herself and her dancers through somatic exercises. By maintaining the body with anatomical awareness, the human body becomes an efficient conduit for energy and proper breathing. This empty, yet fully attuned state of being, allows one to move without ego, yet with a sense of responsibility of being in collaboration with the principles working within our body, others and the environment. Our movements turn what are invisible, energy and will, into the visible through internal and external space. Human movements create phenomena that impact the environment/space and, in turn, the environment/space in which we reside, impacts humans.
Often fused with western music/sounds, particularly J.S. Bach, free jazz, experimental music and improvisation, Kato’s choreography, which looks simple, yet multilayered in meanings, encourage active participation from audiences through their imagination, memories and experiences.
Kato considers improvisation over the concept of yin-yang in Taoism: composition and improvisation cannot exist in a vacuum, but rather include the other aspect in different degrees in the entity of a single dance work. In other words, when improvisation matures, it seeks out the form of composition and when composition matures, it seeks out the form of improvisation. Butoh master Kazuo Ohno observed that one must: “improvise the same thing one hundred times, and then you start to see the truth in the movement.” This means, if you improvise upon “flower,” after one hundred times of improvisation, you start to experience something that can be called the law of nature or the law of the movement, and that is recognized as the essence of composition (of nature). When Kato performs and creates a dance work, she keeps seeking to encounter these absolute of being, and that’s how she copes with and balance and/or unite improvisation and composition in her dance work. Then, she perceives both must be standing upon the common realm: natural and spiritual order = the law of nature/the principles in movement. When the balance/unity is achieve through such attuned state of being, Kato believes that the true liberation emerges.