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Ryuta Iwashita (they/them) currently lives and improvises in Bulbancha (New Orleans) in the USA as a movement/performance/visual artist and educator after living in Japan for 25 years. Their artistic lexicons are rooted in social justice, somatics, child education, and ancestral and healing work including 祖体 (SOTAI) of which Ryuta is its conceiver. Their work and teaching have been accepted by internationally renowned organizations such as Isa Arts Center (JAPAN), Washi + Performing Arts Artist-in-residency (JAPAN), Contact Improv Dance Chengdu (CHINA), Jacob’s Pillow (MA), Tulane University (LA), New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center (LA), re:FRAME Festival (LA), Alternate ROOTS (GA), Seattle Festival of Dance Improv (WA), Yellow Fish Durational Performance Festival (WA), Look Out Arts Quarry Artist-in-residency (WA), and Earthdance Creative Living (MA).
Within my work, there is a sense of who I am while my work lets go of who I perceive as I am, allowing those infinite generations in my family tree to enter and root into my moving vessel.
My work revolves around relationships. Relationships to my ancestors, community, nature, time, memories. It illuminates a relational constellation of past, present, and future, witnessed by the easeful gaze of the multiverse.
My work also moves and responds to contrast. The contrast between my Japanese heritage and my westernized life in the US, between a day of organic farming and a night of MSG-heavy instant noodles, between my partner's indulge in watching TikTok and my grandfather's indulge in eating raw chicken gizzards, and between my vintage kimono and my new MacBook.
As I am pausing and moving with relationship and contrast, my work becomes a utopia for my SOTAI (ancestral body) where tangible and intangible, body and spirit merge in the liminal space.
６がつのとおいからだ (FAR BODIES IN JUNE)
There are six bodies in one individual, probably 6 feet apart from each other. One body may represent a teenage transgender singer from the ’60s, one may represent the A-bombs from World War II, or one may represent a red light district in Tokyo. They all dance with each other in forced proximity while dancing in contact with the weight of events and memories. Who disruptively demolishes physical and social distance? Who lends the 6th sense to these bodies?
Mu(s)hi is a living platform where a phenomenon of a linguistic Gestaltzerfall and a mother's cancer meet and dance. As a Gestaltzerfall suggests a sense of decomposition in meaning and complexity, the non-native English-speaking protagonist recreates a somatic language to sustain their improvisational relationship with their ancestors and their mother as they deliberately blur the wall between the performer and spectators.
THISORIENTATION SERIES is a site-specific, immersive performance project developed by New Orleanian Asian artists of multiple disciplines including poetry, dance, music, digital media art, singing karaoke, and chopping Bok Choy. It encompasses Asian immigrants and their offsprings' social dilemma and liberation to who they are in contrast to the binary racial dynamics and spirality in the Deep South. Within their bodies transformed as a disorienting utopia, they create a moving constellation connecting the memories of lands and ancestors.
The seed is planted in the artist's recurring encounters with their neighbors addressing them (a Japanese national) by saying "Ni hao (hello in Chinese)" and ex-US veterans yelling "Go back to Vietnam". Blurring the outdated Western categorizations of "mongoloids", the artist will playfully render the racial and ethnic typology even more obscure and insignificant.
Rajio Taiso, the Japanese Radio Calisthenics were conceptually imported by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. back in the 1920s and exported to several Pacific countries that Japan colonized. The piece modifies and undulates its militaristic nature and carefully weaves the Japanese historical perpetuation of oppressor and oppressed.
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