Writing for The Equal Times, journalist Carmen Grau interviews Ainu leaders Fumio Kimura, Shizue Ukaji,
From 7-12 October 2018, the Ainu Women’s Association and Cemipos will collaborate with Poland’s Teatr Amareya to put on a workshop series and performances on the topic of the Indigenous Women and storytelling. Special emphasis will be given to the stories of Ainu Women in their homeland, Ainu Moshir. These workshops and performances are open to any wishing to participate and learn more about the stories of Ainu Women, and the power of storytelling through movement and performance.
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Under the direction of Teatr Amareya, the Sapporo workshop will utilize the tools of theater and dance to tell the stories of indigenous and minoritzed women. The project will be accompanied by Louise Fontain, an Inuit storyteller who has harnessed the craft of performance to address issues of system violence and exile, particularly against women in their communities. The mission of this project is combine the expertise of Amareya and Fontain through the workshops and cultivate a performance telling the stories that Ainu women have to bring forward. The performance will be titled AINU MOSHIR-AINU WOMB and will premiere following the conclusion of the multi-day workshop. In addition to the performance of AINU MOSHIR-AINU WOMB, there will be a performance of NOMADIC WOMAN, an award-winning project of Teatr Amareya.Furthermore, the project will ultimately culminate in the publication of a book led by Dr. Katarzyna Pastuzak, Dr. Monika Popow, and Dr. Aleksandra Sliwinska, all of Teatr Amareya, alongside Ryoko Tahara of the Ainu Women’s Association and Professor Hiroshi Maruyama of Cemipos.
The project focuses on the dissemination, transmission, and preservation of the rich cultural heritage of the Indigenous ethnic minority of the Ainu living in Japan. It also aims at empowering Ainu women who suffer from doubled discrimination based on gendered views that have pervaded from mainstream society. The project will also work towards continuing to build a transcultural Asian-European creative and supportive community that works towards empowering and decolonizing ethnic minorities.
These workshops and performances will be put on by Teatr Amareya, one of the leading avantgarde theaters in Poland. The theater places emphasis on the exploration of the power of corporeal movement and storytelling through the body. Though based in Gdansk, the theater and its projects feature guests from all over the world. The theater has been particularly devoted to cultivating a cultural cooperation between Poland and Japan.
The projects of Teatr Amareya have been the recipients of numerous awards and high acclaim. Specifically, the project NOMADIC WOMAN was nominated for the prestigious prize “Splendor Gedanensis” and in 2017 it won the 2nd audience prize at the Festival Pestka in Jelenia Gora, Poland. NOMADIC WOMAN is inspired by the life story of Louise Fontain, and Inuit woman from Greenland. Through the lens of Fontain’s life, the performance explores the inner and outer migration women must take, and the exile to which they are often subject in the process. It is a contemporary epic about rebirth and return, as felt and experienced by women. In 2017, NOMADIC WOMAN was brought to Japan and featured the integration of Tsugumi Matsudaira, an Ainu woman, into the performance. The collaboration between Tsugumi, in addition with another Ainu artist Utae Ehara will see another iteration on 12 October 2018 at the Sapporo Pirka Kotan following the 5-day workshop on storytelling and movement.
7-11 October: Workshop and development of performance (AINU MOSHIR-AINU WOMB) with the Ainu Women’s Association at Higashi Honganji Temple at Mt. Moiwa, Sapporo.
12 October: Performances of AINU MOSHIR-AINU WOMB and NOMADIC WOMAN in the Culture Exchange Hall, Pirka Kotan, Sapporo.
This project is organized by the Ainu Women’s Association and is supported by The Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies