Trooper’s brother is inspired by choreographer Nami Yamamoto’s experience going through multiple surgeries with Dr. Deborah Axelrod at NYU Langone Medical Center—who dresses up as a kitty cat on Halloween. In Yamamoto’s words:
“My relationship with her changed from calling Dr. Axelrod to Deborah throughout my diagnosis process. My observations and interactions with Dr. Axelrod, her nurses, and colleagues are my inspiration to create this work. My collaborators/dancers are Takemi Kitamura, Leah Ogawa, and Anna Vomacka.
We started to explore the piece by manipulating and improvising with different objects including paper puppets. The handmade paper puppets are manipulated by one dancer at a time. The puppets’ feet are attached between the dancers’ first and second toes. I am playing with an idea of who is leading. Can the puppet bring the puppeteer into their imaginary world?
I have been exploring this piece since fall 2018. During 2020, I kept exploring movement at East River Park, then after 18 months of pause, we were back in the studio.
I am at the point of developing a second half of the piece. If the first half of the piece is about what happened in our body, the second half is about what happened in our minds. The objects that we were manipulating begin to haunt us. The puppet becomes dissected into a piece of bundled-up paper. We obsessed about pieces of puppet parts that have no shape, no life, or no meaning anymore. The shape of our body changes with time and age. But, we are still living, breathing, surviving, and celebrating our lives.”
Choreographer: Nami Yamamoto
Lighting Designer: Kathy Kaufmann
Nami Yamamoto, from Matsuyama, Japan, holds an MA in Dance Education from New York University and a BA in Physical Education from Ehime University. Her work has been funded by Creative Capital, Jim Henson Foundation, Creative Engagement by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, City Artist Corps, and others. She has been nurtured and inspired by her residency experience at Movement Research, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, New Dance Alliance, and Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. Her work, Headless Wolf (2017) received The New York Dance and Performance Awards, (the Bessies) for outstanding production. While her studio creation was on pause in 2020, she has created dance films, powerless creature keeps going… documented at East River Park. In 2021, she is a Gibney DiP Resident Artist and an Artist in Residence at Center for Performance Research to develop her piece, Trooper’s Brother. Nami enjoys teaching dance at NYC public schools through Dance Makers Program at Movement Research. She is an Artist in Residence at Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2022.
Takemi Kitamura: A native of Osaka, Japan and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Dance-Education from Hunter College, where she received the Choreographic Award from the Dance Program. Her performances credits include Blood Moon by Beth Morrison Projects at Prototype Festival 2020 (choreographer/dancer/puppeteer), The Oldest Boy (puppeteer/dancer) at Lincoln Center Theater, The Indian Queen (dancer), an opera directed by Peter Sellars, Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (puppeteer) by Dan Hurling, Shank’s Mare (puppeteer) by Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V, and Falling Out (puppeteer/dancer) by Phantom Limbs Company, and SLEEP (dancer/ensemble) by Ripe Time.
Leah Ogawa is a mixed race artist, puppeteer, dramatist, self-detective, and model based in New York City. Raised in Yamanashi, Japan, Leah has worked with puppeteers, artists, and companies including The Metropolitan Opera, Phantom Limb, Dan Hurlin, Tom Lee, Nami Yamamoto, Loco 7, and others. She has performed across the US as well as at the Quai Branly in Paris and across Asia. Leah is a recipient of the Jim Henson Foundation’s workshop grant for her original piece, Growing Not Dying, which was performed at La MaMa Puppet Festival in October 2021. She is currently LMCC Artist-in-Residence at the Arts Center at Governors Island. For more information, visit leahogawa.com and follow her on Instagram @leahogawa
Anna Vomacka (she/her/hers) is a dance/movement/yoga explorer/maker/performer/teacher. Anna is driven by her curiosities and cravings for community, connection, and spaces of shared learning / (un)learning. Perhaps it is through this desire to connect and preserve her continual-curiosities that Anna found (and stuck with/got stuck to) dance and movement. Anna’s work explores: collective realities, shared intimacy, idiosyncratic differences, physical manifestations of self & socially imposed labels, identity, emergence of community, and recycling of movements, dancers, ideas, waste. As a performer Anna has worked with Brennan Gerard & Ryan Kelly, Mei Yamanaka, Nami Yamamoto, Treeline Dance Works, & Sondra Loring among others. As a host of the Brooklyn Contact Improvisation (CI) jam, Anna, in collaboration with the other hosts, is committed to a practice of queering the CI space by explicitly naming and disrupting normative harmful structures. Anna teaches dance & movement forms to kiddos ages 3-15 through the YMCA, Together in Dance, & Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from The Ohio State University (OSU), and completed her 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher Training with Sondra Loring of Sadhana Yoga, Hudson, NY. Please visit annavomacka.com for more info!
Trooper’s Brother will be developed in part during a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY in 2022.
Trooper’s Brother was developed at St. Ann’s Warehouse Puppet Lab with Matt Acheson and Lake Simons as Lab Co-Directors at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY, in 2019.
Trooper’s Brother was created, in part, with a space grant in 2019 from BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Jerome Foundation and the Howard Gilman foundation.
Trooper’s Brother was also supported, in part, by CPR – Center for Performance Research’s Artist-in-Residence program in 2020-21, which is made possible, in part, through the National Endowment for the Arts and Dance/NYC’s New York City Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program, an initiative made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Nami Yamamoto researched, developed and honed Trooper’s Brother with financial, administrative and residency support from Dance in Process at Gibney in 2020-21.
Nami Yamamoto also received NDA/New Dance Alliance’s LiftOff Creative and Project Development Residency in 2020-21 to develop Trooper’s Brother.
Trooper’s Brother is presented as part of DANCEROULETTE and is supported in part by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and through Roulette’s GENERATE program, providing over 30 artists each year with in-depth creative and technical support.