Keiko Kitano

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Dance artist Keiko Kitano is one of the nine contemporary artists who have shared their first impressions of Toronto with us for First Impressions: Telling Toronto Stories. This is a joint project of Toronto Arts Council and Heritage Toronto appearing on the TTC throughout 2009 and 2010, through the support of RBC.

"Masterful choreographer"

The Globe and Mail

Keiko Kitano, a contemporary dance artist, was born, raised, had studied and worked in Tokyo until she

immigrated to Toronto in 2003. From 1991-2003, she was a principal dancer with the dance company Miyako Katoh Dance Space in Tokyo. She worked with many artists in Tokyo including composer Maki Ishii where she danced with the Butoh group Dairakudakan for his new Opera under Katoh’s choreography. As a solo dance artist, Keiko has choreographed and performed internationally, and taught technique and improvisation classes in Germany, Russia and Singapore since1996. She also worked with many Tokyo artists, such as composers, musicians, light sculptors, installation designers, clothing designers and multimedia artists.

In 2001, she co-founded The Tokyo Dance Collective along with multimedia artist Rick Thomson and composer Hiroshi Tamura and created new pieces for dance, media and music. Since then, she has continuously been working with Rick Thomson, who is also her life partner since they met each other at fFIDA in Toronto, with the aim of unifying dance, music and multimedia. She performed at fFIDA in 1998 and 2001, and her group piece "Somniatosis” (2001) was described as being “perfect for anyone on the hunt for undiscovered choreographic gems, when the 10 members of the Tokyo Dance Collective perform the work of collective co-director, and masterful choreographer, Keiko Kitano. The work, entitled Somniatosis, is remarkable for its multidisciplinary coherence. Music (by Hiroshi Tamura, video by Torontonian Rick Thomson) and movement work together to show us an insomniac, dreamlike state that is both familiar and surreal.” (The Globe and Mail).

Watch On The Wings/Surrender (2008/work in progress):

Her pieces have been also shown at many other venues and festivals including ROM, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Soo Ryu Dance Festival and International Dance Day.

She is excited about working on her latest collaboration work with Aki Takahashi and Rick Thomson that was presented as a work in progress for Older & Reckless 2008 and will be completed and premiered in December 2009. As a dancer, she worked with many local choreographers including Holly Small, Sashar Zarif, Maxine Heppner, Viv Moore, Dave Wilson. She co-founded Green Tea in 2003, a Toronto collective of Japanese dance artists.

Keiko in performance. Photo by Julia Gotz

Keiko performing

Beside her life as a dance artist, she had been a full-time faculty member at the Japan Women's College of Physical Education in the Dance Major program where she taught Modern Dance, Improvisation and other various disciplines associated with modern dance from 1991 to 2003, and is currently a part time faculty at York University where she enjoys teaching contemporary dance since 2006. Her interests are in forms of Japanese dance and Butoh both for study and dance creation. She holds a Master's degree in Dance.