Anya Clarke and Mitsuko Verdery are two lovers of dance and college graduates who started their very own dance company! Hailing from both Crown Heights and Manhattan, Anya and Mitsuko created Michiyaya Dance, an improv-based dance and visual arts company that is soon to be a household name. Check out the interview below!
Images taken by Michael Discenza and Julia Discenza for Michiyaya Dance.
Pia: What is the inspiration behind the name “Michiyaya”?
Anya & Mitsuko:“Michiyaya” comes from the combination of our nicknames. Words as dance companies’ names can get tricky and sometimes too vague. We wanted to use our names; but since its two of us, we didn’t want it to be too long. “Michan” is a common Japanese nickname for Mitsuko, and “Michi” is a riff off of that. “Yaya” is a nickname Anya created for herself. We like it because its different, catchy and sounds like its from another language.
P: How did you ladies meet, and why did you both decide on making Michiyaya an improv-based company?
A&M: We met two years ago at Ronald K. Brown’s summer dance workshop in Brooklyn. We never really connected until this past summer, when we were both performing in a tribute performance for the Late Dudley Williams put together by choreographer Earl Mosley. This performance brought us together, and made us realize we both had a lot we wanted to say via dance and art. We wanted to establish Michiyaya Dance as an improv-based company because we feel personal exploration is important, as it keeps the individuality of the dancer. We include choreography; but it is really refreshing to see how each dancer can add themselves to the work.
P: What is the recruiting process like for Michiyaya? What do you look for in a dancer?
A&M: We hold open auditions to find our dancers. We look for people who understand themselves and are not afraid. We want them to turn our choreography into something of their own. We aren’t looking for people who mimic us, but more so define us as a company.
P: What should we know about your upcoming premiere work entitled “Project V” that will be premiering in March 2016?
A&M: Project V (5) is our first evening length performance as Michiyaya Dance. We are really excited for this work, as it brings together 10 incredible dance artists, and one amazing live musician named Florent Ghys. We have revisited and combined some old ideas that we both showcased separately; Anya’s choreographic work, and Mitsuko’s performance art work. Project V focuses on five different states of being: neglect, manipulation, emulation, repercussion and rehabilitation. In each state, we examine how these effect both the self and the other. We look forward to showcasing this work at the Center for Performance Research (CPR) in Brooklyn, NY March 5th and 6th at 8 pm (7pm pre-show).
P: What are the main goals for Michiyaya Dance this year?
A&M: Our main goal for 2016 is to build our audience by creating and showcasing our work in as many performances we can. We are also focused on establishing ourselves as a non-profit organization, to more easily continue to produce work.