Yass Hakoshima began his career while dancing with the Yokoyama Ballet troupe in Japan. His initial success led him to the United States, where he studied modern dance with Erick Hawkins and mime with Etienne Decroux. In the late ’60s Hakoshima made his stage debut in New York, and thereafter embarked on a 10-year tour of the United States, performing in over 400 cities in 49 states.
In 1976, he established the Yass Hakoshima Mime Theatre, incorporated as Danmari Ltd. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Suntory Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Soros Foundation, Deluxe Corporation Foundation, and from many other corporations and individuals. Mr. Hakoshima is now an international favorite, touring from New Zealand to Montreal, and Hong Kong to Berlin.
A choreographer as well as a performer, he has created stage movement for many modern plays, has worked in films and television and, more recently, has collaborated with musicians and sculptors to achieve a synthesis of performing arts. Mr. Hakoshima’s work is a fusion of East and West, as well as a blending of music, art, and literature, combining the tradition of mime, the mystery and fatalism of Japanese theatre, and the expansiveness of modern dance.
Mr. Hakoshima’s video “Dream Journey,” which premiered on Public Television in the spring of 1995, has received several international awards, including the Cine Golden Eagle award, a New York Emmy nomination, the Chris award and the Charleston International Silver award. In 1995, Mr. Hakoshima also received an award from the Montclair Arts and Cultural Alliance for outstanding achievement as an individual in the performing arts. Since 1997, he has appeared annually at international dance and mime festivals in Germany and Denmark. In December 1998, he premiered his full-evening-length work “Daybreak in a Buddhist Monastery,” with a cast of 22 dancers, actors, and musicians at the Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ.
In 1999 he toured in South America and Europe, and in the spring of 2000 premiered his new program “Chinmokuza” with the Taikoza drummers. In the fall of 2000, “Chinmokuza” permiered at several European festivals; it received its New York City premiere in the spring of 2001. In 2002, Mr. Hakoshima conceived the movement and choreographic scenes for the world premiere of Valina Hasu-Houston’s “Waiting for Tadashi” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ. Also in 2002, the company toured throughout Taiwan, performing with soloists Min Xiao-Fen (pipa) and Noriko Okuma (koto) in ten cities all over the island. In the fall of that year, “Yoake Mai” was premiered at the “Great Events” series at Montclair State University to much critical acclaim. In 2003 and 2004 the company continued to tour its popular “Breaking Barriers” program throughout New Jersey as well as in Europe.
Yass Hakoshima has received funding from the American Music Center’s program “Live Music for Dance.” Works funded by the Center have included his choreographed work “Duality,” which premiered with the Da Capo Chamber Players at Symphony Space in New York City, and “Duality II,” with a composition by Malaysian composer Su Lian Tan, which premiered at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
Yass Hakoshima is also the founder and director of the New Jersey Center for Mime, founded in 1981. The Center offers annual workshops in mime, movement and body expression. These workshops are held annually in January and June in Montclair, NJ.