Michiyaya Dance is more than just your regular ol’ dance company. If “female empowerment” were in the dictionary, a picture of Michiyaya’s dancers would be right next to the description! Anya and Mitsuko are the founders of this all female dance company, which they describe as a “femme-identifying contemporary dance theater company”, based in New York City.
Check out the interview below!
Her Power: What separates Michiyaya Dance apart from other dance companies (besides it being an all female dance company?), and why did you ladies feel it was important to ONLY have females as the main dancers in the company?
MICHIYAYA: MICHIYAYA Dance is a blend between our two visions (Mitsuko and Anya) combining dance and visual art. The work is centered around dance but is also visual and cerebral. One thing that separates us from other companies is that we focus a lot on keeping our dance artist’s voices present in the work. We don’t want it to seem like a homogenous group that is speaking for either of us. We decided for MICHIYAYA to be only women because we wanted to show that women have versatility and strength in performance, dance, and art. We are now redefining our company as “femme-identifying” and not “all-women”; we don’t want to exclude gender-queer, gender non-binary or trans folks from joining us.
HP: What message do you want people to receive while watching your performances or even learning about your company?
MY: A lot of what we do is abstract, so no matter what the message of the work is, we want people to feel real feelings and think real thoughts. Real meaning that the audience can gain something poignant, or substantial that they relate to or question.
HP: What were your favorite collaborations thus far? (MAC, THINX?)
Mitsuko: All of our collaborations have been special for different reasons. The most recent collaboration with Vice id and MAC is currently my favorite. Vice id made an A to Z video dedicated to Aaliyah that myself, Anya and some of our dance artists were featured in. I grew up listening to Aaliyah and she was such a beautiful person that left us too soon. I met a lot of vibrant and talented people at the shoot. It confirmed that we, artists are all or here doing the work and making things happen in different ways. I’m really excited for my generation of artists.
Anya: My favorite would also be the Vice id x MAC collaboration. It was run by a bunch of boss WOMBen and honored such an iconic WOMBan. We got to work with an incredible choreographer Holly Blakey; assistant to her was my close friend Coral Dolphin. It was directed by Cara Stricker and we got styled by beauty Miyako Bellizzi.
HP: How does one become a member of Michiyaya Dance? What are your requirements?
MY: We have a two step audition process. The first is video submissions and/or in-person auditions and then the second part is joining us in rehearsals. It’s important to have people join us in rehearsal to see how they adapt to the group and vise versa. Our requirements are that people just be themselves, be confident, and share their abilities. Our group of 6 dance artists is very special because everyone is clearly them.
HP: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to share?
MY: We have a month-long residency in Pittsburgh at PearlArts Studios where we’ll be creating new work and teaching. We also have a premiere April 25-28, 2019 at the 14th St Y. Tickets are already on sale! We are really excited for this show. It’s titled /wē/ and it’ll be a work that we’ve been brewing for over a year.
HP: Describe Michiyaya Dance in 3 words.
Anya: Fierce, influential, and humble.
Mitsuko: Charged, empowering, and bold.