Originally students of the great Japanese avant-garde figures Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo, Eiko and Koma have carved out an impressive career in modern dance, bridging the cultures of the United States, Germany and Japan. For their latest project, they’re entering into an unusual collaboration with the Cambodian Reyum Institute for Art and Culture. “Cambodian Stories” grew out of movement workshops that Eiko and Koma held for the Reyum Institute’s painters; in its current incarnation, the piece combines inquisitive and rigorous movement with a kind of action painting. Crossing borders as well as artistic disciplines, “Cambodian Stories” feels simultaneously deeply rooted in traditional Cambodian culture and utterly contemporary. The impetus behind the piece is grounded in the country’s horrific recent history; the collective and contemplative practice out of which “Cambodian Stories” has developed nevertheless offers a glimpse of utopian promise, that a committed art practice can still represent both challenge to and therapy for the ubiquitous (and localized) brutality of modern life. (John Beer)
“Eiko and Koma: Cambodian Stories” is playing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago, 312.280.2660, through May 14.