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Izumonookunl by Dance Artists Aretha Aoki and Ryan MacDonald

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Salem Night - Free admission for Salem residents with ID

IzumonookunI is a multidisciplinary dance inspired by Izumo no Okuni, 17th century cis-female founder of the Japanese dance-drama form, kabuki-a form that currently contains little trace of its cis-femalecentric, grassroots, counter-cultural origins. Choreographer Aretha Aoki and Bessie-nominated sound designer and artist Ryan MacDonald are resurrecting and re-imagining Okuni as a punk/synthwave/glam-goth figure. IzumokookunI aims to reclaim the origins of kabuki, collapse reductive binaries, and allow audiences to make new connections between seemingly disparate forms.



General admission: $15 
Senior: $10 
Under 18: $10 
Students: Free with ID 

This event is a Salem Night with free admission for Salem residents with ID. 
Admission is free for all Salem State students, faculty and staff with ID.

Reserve tickets.


Aretha Aoki is a choreographer, performer, and Associate Professor of Dance at Bowdoin College. Her choreographic work in collaboration with Ryan MacDonald has been performed nationally and internationally with funding from the Maine Arts Commission, New England Foundation for the Arts, Northampton Council for the Arts, and the National Association of Japanese Canadians. She was selected to be a part of the RDDI New England cohort, whose shared platform at the ICA/Boston was named one of the “top ten dance performances” in 2022 by the Boston Globe. As a performer, Aretha has received critical acclaim for her work with award-winning choreographers, Emily Johnson, Juliette Mapp, devynn emory, and others. She is dancing in a new trio by Heather Kravas that will premiere at the Chocolate Factory in NYC in 2024.

Ryan A. MacDonald is a multimedia artist and author. He was a 2017 Bessie Award Nominee in “Outstanding Composition and Sound Design” for his work in Vanessa Anspaugh’s The End of Men. He is the author of the story collection The Observable Characteristics of Organisms (FC2) and the winner of the 2012 American Short(er) Fiction Award. His work, in collaboration with Aretha Aoki, has been performed most recently at Motion State Dance Festival in RI, The ICA in Boston, Roger Williams University (RI), La Mama La Galeria (NYC), Kansas City Art Institute’s Crossroads Gallery, The Kraine Theater (NYC), School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (Northampton MA), the Powell St. Festival (Canada), Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (NYC), and Studio 303 in Montreal. He has an MFA in Studio Art and an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Frankie Mayfield Aoki-MacDonald is 7 years old. She loves unicorns, fairies, magic, drawing, and dance. She would like to be an artist when she grows up.

When 9:00pm
Sophia Gordon Center, North Campus
356 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970
Sophia Gordon Mainstage
Karen A Gahagan

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