2018 – present
In 2016, Jija Sohn participated in the International Choreographers Week in Tilburg and became acquainted with DansBrabant within the scope of her Moving Forward programme. In the summer of 2017, Theaterfestival Boulevard and DansBrabant invited Jija to represent the Netherlands with her choreography in the two-year programme Performing Gender Dance Makes Differences, a European project on the subject of ‘dance, gender and activism’. DansBrabant and Jija’s cooperation on a multi-year programme started in September 2018. Together we have organized a permanent dialogue with several committed partners in PLAN, Moving Futures, Belgium, Germany, the UK and beyond….
Jija graduated in Choreography in 2015 at the SNDO (School voor Nieuwe Dansontwikkeling) in Amsterdam. The following year she had the opportunity to work on her first creation within the scope of the Moving Forward programme. Performing together with two Japanese colleagues, she created Geisha’s Miracle (première June 2016), a cleverly layered study of femininity and at the same time a play on tradition, emphatically embracing and at the same time mocking our modern times. Her next project, Kyabajo (March 2018), became a solo performance, in which she presents her own past life as a ‘Japanese society girl’ and contemplates power games and frustrations. Jija made Kyabajo with Dansmakers Amsterdam, with contributions and involvement from PLAN.
So far, Jija has worked on associative creations in which she articulates everything that she found problematical as a young woman with Asian roots, focusing on what it means to be a woman and to carry cultural baggage. She cleverly plays with images, colours and clichés, with bodies, space and movement, with truisms and obvious lies. Jija lets us believe, only to show us what can or could have been. The Performing Gender programme helped her become more aware of the socio-critical note she strikes in her creations. This has also heightened her vigilance. For instance, she discovered in herself a tendency to approach working in themes and expectations in a way that forces her into a mental and psychological straightjacket, while her principal aim is to attain an implementation led purely by physical aspects; one in which she will not succumb to the need for ‘quick interpretation and half-baked insights’.
Lands of Concerts, Jija’s work over the coming years will involve a series of labs and residencies, collaborating with performance and visual artist Andrea Folache, actress/singer Lucy Wilke and costume and stage designer Rosemary Allaert to expand the notion of performativity and performative space. Together they work to achieve an energetic union to counter the indifferent magnification of inequalities and idle exoticism. ‘What is imagination essentially, and what is creativity?’ they ask themselves. ‘How can we make room for both of these in our rehearsals and performances, and in our daily lives? And what are the conditions for regaining the state where imagination is the instrument of freedom, independence and sovereignty for all?’
As a creative artist, Jija has the courage to search, to doubt, to struggle, and to change course before ultimately doggedly defending her choices. Based on artificial urban practices, she experiments with her yearning for intuitiveness, animalism and rural life. She constructs her creations with immense concentration and thus propagates the need to search for the source of creativity and to share this with people who care. And in a hard world of shells and exteriors, Jija steers us unfalteringly towards a radical intimacy that is relevant to everything that is a source of curiosity to DansBrabant.