Review and more:

“Dance” is an insufficient description of Ayako Kato’s performances: they are events of nature in which air, light and sound waves in the room are influenced by Kato’s subtle and enrapturing energy. “Players 2018: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago.” Newcity Stage, 4 January, 2018.

Dancer Ayako Kato finds beauty of being, purpose in U.S.

Nunez, Irma. The Japan Times, 19 August 2017.


What is Movement? review: “Kato described ‘What is Movement?’ as being guided by three questions: Why do we move? What is moving? What is movement doing to us? … the echo of these movements in our own bodies, or the awareness that in this movement museum, we are exhibits, too. Kato presents questions for which she has no clear answers and that, I think, is the point.” Warnecke, Lauren. “Dancing the beauty of utility in site-specific works at Pivot Arts Fest.” Chicago Tribune, 5 June, 2017.

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photo by Austin Oie

blue fish review: “fearless experimentation,” “… the essence of life, of engagement and understanding, of living organisms anonymous, possibly insignificant alone, but potentially germane to nature and the world as a whole. … question our role as human beings…fearless in its inherent and extrinsic exploration of self.” Lenzo, Kris & Lenzo, Sheri. “Water, Life, Rebirth.” Picture this Post, 9 May 2017.  (← Click the link and Enjoy watching blue fish photo slide show on the website.)

Photo by William Frederking

Photo by William Frederking

blue fish preview: “Stillness is one of the most powerful tools in a skilled choreographer’s hands. …  Kato is able to evoke whole landscapes in single exhalation. … inspired by visits to Fukushima, Hanford Site in Washington, the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado and other sites of nuclear damage, Kato is both fisherman and fish; rigid, masculine, yang, then diving below the surface to become fluid, feminine, yin.” Hoyer, Sharon. “Fascination in a Gesture.” Newcity Stage, 20 April 2017.

blue fish preview: “Watching Ayako Kato dance, it’s as though she’s suspended in time.” Peña, Matt de la. “Dancer Ayako Kato moves from protest to perseverance in the face of environmental disaster.” Chicago Reader, 19 April 2017.

So and so … review: “Kato was a miracle of suspension and detail, fluid thought embodied in seemingly effortless movement,” Molzahn, Laura. Chicago Tribune, 20 May 2016. 

blue fish II preview: “‘Art functions as balance.'” Peña, Matt de la. “In the aftermath of nuclear disaster.”* Chicago Reader, 11 November, 2015. * The title on the printed paper.

“blissful clarity … beautifully serene …” Molzahn, Laura. “Best of Dance 2014: Taking steps, making discoveries.” Chicago Tribune, 14 December, 2014.

The Incidents                                                     WatchThe Incidents: Dance by Precious Jennings, Jessica Marasa, Ayako Kato; Photo by Ken Carl

The Incidents (Best of Dance 2014) review: ” … stunningly beautiful … Dancing this carefully placed is immensely difficult, requiring poise, stamina, and intense mental concentration. Kato, Precious Jennings and Jessica Marasa not only maintained that discipline but kept their softness and serenity.” Molzahn, Laura. “Ayako Kato makes math lovely in ‘Incidents’.” Chicago Tribune, 8 June 2014.

The Incidents (Best of Dance 2014) review: “the meaning behind Kato’s exploration is both as precise as molecular physics and expansive as the far reaches of multiple galaxies.” Smith, Sid. “Reflections on Dance: A Moving Canvas with Ayako Kato.” SeeChicagoDance, 5 June 2014. 

Ayako_Kato_8x12inch_300dpi_Photo_Ralph_Kuehne_smallPhoto by Ralph Kuehne

Incidents II has an eddying, fluid magic as Kato, Precious Jennings, and Jessica Marasa trace rippling, soothing patterns on two figure eights. Sometimes the dancers come softly to a halt and pause to take a single breath; when they resume their meditative paces in the opposite direction, it’s as if nothing and everything has changed.” Cutie, Jena. “Dance gets cerebral in ‘Laws of Motion’.” Chicago Reader, 4 June 2014.

“… work embracing one of the most profound aspects of art–its literal reach to infinity… all craft and all philosophy, the notion of an invisible extension tying limited physical matter to an immeasurable universe, a kind of metaphysical manifestation of what we call truth.” Smith, Sid. “Preview: Dance A Moving Canvas, Final Installment.” SeeChicagoDance, 2 June 2014.

“The whole piece is a peaceful musing until she stands at center and drags her fingertips across her mid-section. It is a jarring moment that would not return, but gives the lingering impression that she is not so delicate as she might seem, and, like the ocean, has a visceral capacity for manipulation that increases the deeper one looks.” Warnecke, Lauren. “Dance Shelter makes a move to Stage 773.” SeeChicagoDance, 14 April 2014. 

“Kato is a powerful, captivating force to behold in motion; the richness and nuance of her movement will change the way you look at dance.” “The Players 2014: The Fifty People Who Really Perform in Chicago.” Newcity, 23 January 2014. 

“… a high point of the evening … dancer Ayako Kato performed solo movement that combined beauty of line and nobility of gesture with extraordinarily fluid travel across the stage. Here movement and music eloquently cohered.” Reich, Howard. “Tatsu Aoki’s ‘Reduction’ merges Japanese culture and jazz.” Chicago Tribune, 22 December 2013.

“…the pared yet sumptuous Let Be helped me make the leap from seeing characters and stories in dance to seeing movement and music as abstractions, continuously reinvented through repetitions and variations. … Let Be is a minimalist slice of life, aimless yet rich …” –  Molzahn, Laura. “Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape, ‘Let Be.'” SeeChicagoDance, 1 June 2013.

“Kato’s gift for channeling unseen forces—for distancing herself from herself yet remaining uncannily invested in the moment—pays off here. She inhabits and embodies the obsessiveness, the fierce jubilation, sadness, and resignation of both geniuses, Bach and Gould.” -Laura Molzahn, Chicago Reader; October 2012: Molzahn, Laura. “READER RECOMENDS,” Oct 18, 2012: Live Arts p37

“…both virtuoso technicians and ravenous experimentalists… Kato, while tiny, devoured the stage with actions of all sorts of qualities and sizes. She has an immensely colorful imagination for movement, linked directly to her breath, and two of the most expressive hands in Chicago.”-Zac Whittenburg, TimeOut Chicago; September 2011

“Kato’s nuanced performances are mesmerizing. The simplest motion radiates meaning; the dance evolves and yet remains elusive.” –Laura Molzahn, “Fall Arts Guide People to Watch Ayako Kato,” Chicago Reader; August 2009

“Ayako Kato’s “land the land – standing point” was remarkable for its expressive lack of movement.  Making only slight and spare gestures, Ms. Kato appeared to portray a hesitant woman afraid to move and her character’s reticence was compelling to behold.”  –Jack Anderson, New York Times; April 2005

“… their improvisatory inventiveness let fascinating sonic and kinetic forms arise out of nothingness and then return to it.” – Anderson, Jack. “Lost in a Private World As Shadows Come to Life.” New York Times 29 September 2003: Arts B2.

More Articles:

“Kato’s “z” shows off her haunting, butoh-like moves and control, dotted with startling images right up to her arresting finish, a tour de force employing her arched back.”  –Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune; January 2011

Mohzahn, Laura. “Dance Union: Politics and Dance.” SeeChicagoDance, 10 January 2011.

“You wouldn’t know it by her soft-spoken demeanor, but Ayako Kato is a tireless operative, sharply curating the Dance Union series at Lincoln Park’s Fasseas Theater and keeping plenty busy as a powerful solo performer.”  –Zac Whittenburg, “Perennial excellence: The Dynamic Women of Chicago Dance in 2010,” TimeOut Chicago; December 2010

Wittenburg, Zachary. “Dance Union: Live review.” Time Out Chicago, The TOC Blog, 7 November 2010.

Chicago Reader Critic’s Choice, Molzahn, Laura. April 30, 2009.

Chicago Reader Critic’s Choice, Molzahn, Laura. June 5, 2008.

Time Out Chicago, Chremos, Asimina. “Natural Beauty: Ayako Kato Slows Down to Smell the Universe,” May 31 – June 6, 2007



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