1988-1995

Surfacing (1988) 

Photo by: Tom Brazil

Surfacing started it all…Uchizono’s best friend Nikki Castro kept telling Donna that she was a choreographer and that she needed to show her work.  Uchizono knew that it was her "calling" but wondered  how does an unknown choreographer begin?  Where does one start?  Uchizono gathered four choreographer to share the expenses and they rented Danspace Project for two nights (another choreographer took the other two nights).  Nikki, who danced with Bebe Miller said, “I’ll definitely be in your piece.”  Becky Hilton who danced with Stepen Petronio said, “I will also be in your piece.”  After opening night, Bebe Miller told Donna that she loved it and was going to tell Ralph Lemon he had to see the show.  On closing night (there were only two nights so one was opening and the other was closing) Richard Elovich from Movement Research said that MR would like to present Uchizono at Ethnic Folk Arts and Terry Fox from Danspace Project said she would like to present Uchizono at Danspace Project on a shared evening…Mia Lawrence, Kristen Borg, Sondra Loring and Jodi Melnick said they would like to be in a future piece.  It was thrilling!
Dancers:  Nikki Castro, Rebecca Hilton, Donna Uchizono

short tahitian temper (1989)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

The popular two minute  solo short tahitian temper  premiered at Movement Research (when it was at Ethnic Folk Arts on Varick St) along with Leaning Tall and Broke my Fall,.  After one of the performances at Movement Research both Ralph Lemon and David Dorman introduced themselves to Uchizono.  Ralph Lemon recommended Uchiozno to create a piece in Minneapolis.  Dance critic Deborah Jowitt came to the performance because Sondra Loring  performed in a show earlier in the week andt Deborah had she had to come and see this new choreographer. Jowitt came and made room in the Village Voice to include a review calling Uchizono, “A Smart Lady.” Jowitt was kind enough to write a personal note to Uchizono apologizing for the brief review. Jowitt understood that she would not be given space to write anything if she decided to see the show.  She stated, “ in the context of other works I had been seeing, I felt the need to say something…” A generous lady!

Choreographed by: Donna Uchizono 

Performed by:  Donna Uchizono 

Music by:  Traditional Tahitian Music

Leaning Tall (1989)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

Leaning Tall was the first collaboration with composer Tom Cora, a collaboration in which they created over 11 evening length works together.  Cora's untimely death at the age of 44 in 1998 was devastating.    
Dancers:  Phillip Adams, Sondra Loring, Jose Navas, Renee Lemiux, Donna Uchizono

Accommodations (1989)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

Accommodations was danced by the "hot and powerful" Kristen Borg,  Nikki Castro, Becky Hilton, Mia Lawrence, Sondra Loring, Donna Uchizono.  Phew!

San Andreas (1990)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

San Andreas was Uchizono’s first evening length work.  After it’s premiere Impulz Tanz brought it to Vienna with a tour to Hungary and Portugal.  Composer:  Tom Cora received a “Bessie” for the score.  Tom Cora and Samm Bennett played live and rocked the house.   Lighting Design was by Stan Pressner.  The original costumes for the piece was finished and brought on dress rehearsal night and turned out to be a disaster.  At the last minute, Uchizono called Katherine Maurer whom she met in Minneapolis.  Maurer came up with something simple in one day.  Yeah Katie!  The first version was made at American Dance Festival with dancers Phillip Adams, Wally Cardona, Sondra Loring, Jodi Melnick.  The second version Conor McTeague replaced Wally Cardona.
Dancers l-r: Sondra Loring, Phillip Adams, Conor McTeague

The Wayne Brothers (1991)

 

Duet for best friends Uchizono and Nikki Castro.  Uchizono took a recording of  composer Tom Cora doing an improvisation with Mark Ribot and Samm Bennet and re-arranged to fit The Wayne Brothers.  She played it for Cora and he loved it and worked on the composition and added additional cello tracks.

A Sage Passage (1993)

 

An intergenerational piece with four dancers ranging from 53-75 and four dancers under the age of 40 which premiered at The Kitchen in 1993.  A workshop version of the piece was done in Minneapolis where Uchizono invited friend Performance Artist Rachel Rosenthal to come and play with the piece.  The piece was named after Sage Cowles in Minneapolis.  
 
 
Donna with Rachel Rosenthal.

Drinking Ivy (1994)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

Drinking Ivy was a departure from Uchizono's love of speed. Stillness begins to appear in Uchizono's work. When composer: Lawrence "Butch" Morris playing the cornet laid down the track he said happily, "I don't think I played one legitimate note." Costumes:  Katherine Maurer.
 
 
Duet with Nikki Castro and Donna Uchizono.

quietly goes a giant jane (1995)

Photo by: Tom Brazil

quietly goes a giant jane was the first collaboration with Visual Artist David Hammons whom I deeply admired as an artist.  The title quietly goes a giant jane was in reference to best friend and long-time dancer collaborator Nikki Castro.  Rehearsing with Nikki Castro is a miraculous experience.  She has a natural sense of what you want and quietly does these genius things in rehearsal.  After leaving our rehearsal for my first piece Surfacing, Becky HIlton commented, "Nikki is amazing to rehearse with."  When I was talking with Bebe Miller about Nikki she made the same comment.  I used to say, I don't need a "Bessie".  I have a "Nikki".  quietly goes a giant jane was going to be the last piece I made with Nikki as was  leaving dance and moving to California.  I felt that a GIANT was quietly leaving.  Dancers:  Jennifer Allen, Nikki Castro, Carla Rudiger, Yukiko Shinozki, Donna Uchizono:  Composer:  Lawrence "Butch" Morris and James Lo, Lighting Design:  Stan Pressner, Set Design: David Hammons Costumes:  Katherine Maurer.
 
 
Dancers l-r: Yukiko Shinozaki, Jennifer Allen, Carla Rudiger

 

Donna Uchizono and Tom Cora 
 

Donna Uchizono: The Early Years

© 2013 by Chelsea Pillsbury. All rights reserved.