With sublime visual spectacles and deeply moving theatrical experiences, enjoy the elegance, technical precision, and emotional depth of Japanese dance company Sankai Juku with “UMUSUNA (Memories Before History)” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9.

Presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, the performance will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. 

For the past 35 years, Sankai Juku founder and choreographer Ushio Amagatsu has been known worldwide for his contemporary interpretations of Butoh, a form of Japanese dance theatre developed in the mid-20th century. Amagatsu sees Butoh as a dialogue with gravity and has developed his own approach to the style to pursue universal themes, such as birth and death. Amagatsu’s work has been recognized internationally for its originality and utilization of the language of the body, the universal nature of its themes, and the aesthetic strength of its expression.

Amagatsu’s new work “UMUSUNA” evokes the essence of duality and unity encapsulated in the Chinese characters for "birth" and "earth," which combine to form the work's title. The performance reaches to the bonds of nature and its elements. A beautiful landscape unfolds onstage, featuring a continuous stream of sand pouring on the dancers during the piece. “UMUSUMA” is accompanied by music by Takashi Kako, Yas-Kaz, and Yoichiro Yoshikawa that is rich with the voices of nature, evoking thunder, blowing trees, and natural tranquility through its sounds.

The word “UMUSUNA” originates from ancient Japan and has the same root as “ubusuna,” meaning one’s place of birth. “Ubusu” means birth, the beginning of life, or entering the world. The word “umusu” also embodies the concepts of everything and nothing, existence and nothingness. “Na” evokes the land, the soil, and one’s native place.

Sankai Juku has premiered a new piece approximately once every two years at Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, a center for contemporary dance. It is one of the few dance companies that the center has commissioned continuously for 35 years. Founder Amagatsu was trained in both classical and modern dance before he became immersed in Butoh. In his works, Amagatsu presents an abstract vision of the infinite and explores evolutionary movement.

The company has toured internationally since 1980 and performed in over 700 cities in 45 countries around the world. While crossing over geographic borders and appealing to diverse audiences, the company has been developing the themes of their work while searching for and moving towards new realms. Sankai Juku received the Japan Foundation Award in 2013.

This presentation of “UMUSUNA” is supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program and made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Tickets are $20-45 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 years old and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.



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