“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.

“fearless experimentation,” Lenzo, Kris & Lenzo, Sheri. “Water, Life, Rebirth.” Picture this Post, 9 May 2017. 

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

“The meaning behind Kato’s exploration is both as precise as molecular physics and expansive as the far reaches of multiple galaxies,”  Smith, Sid., 5 June 2014. 

“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.” Newcity, 23 January 2014. 

Photo by Ralph Kuehne

Photo by Ralph Kuehne

Ayako Kato is an award-winning Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, improviser, teacher, and curator, originally from Yokohama, Japan. Since 1998, she has been an artistic director of Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape (AUH) and has presented and performed her works extensively in the United States, Japan, and Europe. In 2018, she was selected for one of the Players 2018: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago by Newcity Stage. In 2017, she was selected for Links Hall Co-MISSION Fellowship and 3Arts Residency Fellowship to work at Camargo Foundation, France. In 2016, she received 3Arts Award in Dance, a Meier Achievement Award, and was named Top 5 Chicago Choreographers of 2016 by Newcity Stage. Recent venues/festivals include 3Klang Tage, Zug, Switzerland; DOEK, Amsterdam, Holland; the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, CT; Tabito Art Meeting Festival, Fukushima; DeBArtolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Pivot Arts Festival, Chicago; SpinOff Festival at the Chicago Cultural Center; Jay Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park; The Art Institute of Chicago; Links Hall and Constellation in Chicago. Influenced by a Japanese view of nature and the philosophy of Tao, Ayako’s ongoing practice is to embody the intangible, the beauty of being as it is, as “The Way” of nature through movement.

In January 2016, the New England Foundation for the Arts, together with the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF), selected Kato as one of 12 artists for the Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) of its National Dance Project (NDP). She is also Spring 2016 Sponsored Artist at High Concept Laboratories at Mana Contemporary Chicago. 

Her recent group work The Incidents was selected for the Best of Dance 2014 in Chicago Tribune. Other venues/festivals include Dance Theater Workshop, NY; Joyce Soho, NY; WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theater, Brooklyn, NY; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg, France; the University of Notre Dame, IN; Loyola University, Chicago; Chicago Jazz Festival and beyond. She has been commissioned to collaborate with various productions of dance, music, film, and theater as a choreographer, dancer and/or dramaturge. Other artists in residency include Chicago-Lucerne Art Residency Grant through Chicago Sister City program, LinkUp with Dance at Illinois Artist in Residence supported by Links Hall & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dance Bridge at the Chicago Cultural Center, LinkUp and beyond.

The company has received funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Japan Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Experimental Sound Studio and Links Hall.

Since 2010, Kato has been an artist in residence at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater under Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter Program. She has been studying dance anatomy under Irene Dowd since 2007. In addition to classical ballet and modern dance, she also studied Tai Chi, Noh Theater, and Butoh with master Kazuo Ohno, one of the founders. She holds MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and a certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance of Wesleyan University.  Influenced by a Japanese view of nature and the philosophy of Tao, Ayako’s ongoing practice is to embody the intangible, the beauty of being as it is, as “The Way” of nature through movement.

Ayako Kato CV Jan 2018

Music Director: Jason Roebke, composer, double bass

Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape Past and Current Collaborators:

Musicians: Europe:Urs Leimgruber (saxophone), Han Bennink (drums), Eric Boeren (cornet), Mary Oliver (violin), Michael Moore (reeds), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Wilbert de Joode (double bass); Hildegard Kleeb (piano); Roland Dahinden (trombone/Alphorn); Leonzio Cherubini (percussion); Axel Döner (trampet); Marta Warelis (piano); Oscar Jan Hoogland (piano); Kaja Draksler (piano); Karen Ng (saxophone); Chicago & USA: Jim Becker (violin and multi instruments), Josh Berman (cornet), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Brian Labycz (electronics), Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Jim Baker (piano), Michael Zerang (percussion), Tim Barnes (drums), Jorrit Dijkstra (saxophone), Hamid Drake (drums), James Falzone (clarinet), Darin Gray (double bass), Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone), Kent Kessler (double bass), Jeff Kimmel (clarinet), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Peter Maunu (violin, guitar, mandolin); Mike Reed (percussion), Tomeka Reid (cello), Dave Rempis (saxophone), Frank Rosaly (drums), Ned Rothenberg (reeds), Stephen Rush (electronics, voice), Matt Schneider (guitar), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Wilson Tanner Smith (cello), Adam Vida (drums); Albert Wildeman (bass); Katherine Young (bassoon); Japan: Michiyo Yagi (koto); Haco (voice, electronics); Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board); Taku Sugimoto (guitar); Seijiro Murayama (percussion); Ayako Yoshioka (piano); Nishino Megumu (taiko)

Creative Practitioner/Performance Artist: Bryan Saner

Dance Artists: Corinne Imberski, Chicago; Jessica Cornish, San Diego, Precious Jennings, Chicago; Chrissy Martin, Chicago; Michael Schumacher, Amsterdam; Lily Kiara, Amsterdam; Fine Kwiatkowski, Germany; Saiko Kino, Japan; Heidi S. Durning, Japan

Artists: Yvonne Christen Vágner, Edyta Stepien, Selina Trepp, Nobuki Yamamoto, Yuji Miyao, Haruo Higuma, Gwen Terry, Jotoku Masuda

Film: Ralph Kuehne

Lighting Design: Chris Wooten, Richard Norwood, Jacob Snodgrass

Costume Design: Amanda Franck



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