Aya Shibahara is a dancer, choreographer, improviser and performing artist born in Japan.

Since coming to New York in December 2000, her varied performances include the following: Bessie-Winning Noemie Lafrance’s Sensproduction “Descent” (2002 & 2003), Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance, AMDaT, Anemone Dance Theater, Wendy Oseerman Dance Company and Jenni Hong Dance among many others.

She began her own creation work in 2002 and has been showing her own work in both the United States and Japan.

Aya’s choreography has been presented at The Clark Studio Theater in Lincoln Center, Puffin Room, The Evolving Arts Theater, The Black Box @ 440 Studios, CRS and Chelsea Pier.

The evening length work “re” which she created with 4 other artists was named “Fringest Show” in the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival.

Also she presented her first evening length show “DROPS” in 2006.

Aya has been a CRS / Dharma Road Productions Artist-in-Residence since 2003.

about Aya Shibahara


photo by (L)Daniel Dugan, (R-1) Shane Gross, (R-2) Mitsuko Notohara

Artist Statement

Since 2002 I have been a New York based experimental choreographer and performing artist.

Making art is the mission of my life. Always my mind is filled up with ideas and thinking how can I make it work for performances.

My mission is to create and produce innovative, dance performances that both engage audiences in the spatial participation and explore the dynamics of movement specific to my back ground in Contemporary, Modern, Jazz and theater dance, Improvisation and Butoh, Model, Painter and Costume Designer.

When I generate material for the performances, I first look to gain inspiration from within the space itself and begin the process of conceptualizing the maximum possibilities that the space can bring to the dance and vice versa. I then select a range of compatible ideas from  “ the drawer” in my mind.  I then decide upon which performers, costumes (and often) props, or music to include.

Of great importance is to decide how to utilize all of the performer’s technical skill as well as personality in order to create an honest, personal performance.

My project may not always include the same performers.  Artists are carefully selected each time including: dancers, musicians, magicians, actors, and visual artists to include a wide range of collaborators.

I grew up in Hyogo, Japan. Which we refer to as the “Kansai area” when translated means the western region of Japan. I often describe it as the “Sanctuary of laughs”. If one were to grow up in the Kansai area, you can be naturally trained to become funny and retain a wise sense of humor. Social cues from friends, neighbors, TV programs and whatever may be around can teach you how to get attention through the use of humor.

As a child I was a very shy girl, and did not express by myself all that much. However after I moving to New York I now realized how much that I have retained my “Kansai girl” humor.

That subtle sense of humor is found throughout my work- as I am searching to find emotional connections with audiences. And I trust that funny can also mean sad, and sentimental. Some materials I use are social reminders of what we all experienced in the past, like water bubbles, balloons, bubble wraps, buckets or watering cans.

I am also really interested in the movement of pedestrian life. Other topics rely upon the element of surprise. In the case of one scenario where fantasy meets reality -10 people are in a room and suddenly 10 tiny “bears” might be entering into the room, and everybody might have a different reaction to these “bears” working with each performer’s owns reaction of a particular moment is something I find interesting to explore as a spontaneous performance tool.

Through my work, I seek to present live performances that also challenge and enhance our audience’s perception of their environment and community through the integration of site-specific choreography into my work. My goals include the use of approved spaces both indoor/outdoor.

My strong background in costume design will also be featured in my work. The concept of transparency is a recurring subject of this work.

My goal is to be able to connect with performer and audience in the performance and find out the way to create new forms of contemporary dance theater to explore.

A continuation to collaborate within other disciplines in order to create mix media performances is an on going artistic goal of mine.  I enjoy Cooking, Bird Watching, Swimming, People watching, walking on the street, Costume design, and painting.