Elsie Management is managing the NDP-supported tour dates for Michael Sakamoto’s SOIL

(Available for engagements Jan, 2017-June 30, 2018)


Michael Sakamoto, “Soil”

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2017/2018 Tour Dates

Sep 21
Modlin Center for the Arts
Richmond, VA

Please check back soon for newly announced tour dates!


“Sakamoto’s direction manages to tie together so many different scenes and elements that it almost feels like watching a film instead of a dance performance.”

– Eleanore Taft, Little Village

full article (PDF)

“The performers move through the complexities of identity, of belonging and displacement, and of what is lost and found.”

Fabrik Magazine


“Sakamoto creates expressionist theater that evokes the mysterious, the withering and the tongue-in-cheek.”

The San Francisco Bay Guardian

More Press

“Waewdao Sirisook addresses the degradation of the traditional art form in a time when much of Thai culture has been skewed to play to the interests of tourists.”

– New York Times

“A sense of perfect serenity…. Chankethya’s mastery of a fabled technique again proved exemplary.”

– Lewis Segal, Los Angeles Times

“Evocative…nuanced.” (on the choreography of Nguyễn Nguyên)

– Examiner.com


Soil is a dance theater trio conceived by Michael Sakamoto and developed in collaboration with the performers that explores crisis in three Southeast Asian cultures through the personal narratives of Cambodian classical dancer Chey Chankethya, Thai traditional and contemporary dancer Waewdao Sirisook, and Vietnamese-American contemporary dancer Nguyen Nguyen. Lushly arranged dance and incidental music by Japanese koto and guitar duo, Reiko Imanishi and Shinichi Isohata, adds a cinematic energy to the intimate scale of the performers’ stories.
Referencing legacies of political conflict, war, genocide, and environmental destruction, Soil poses the question, “Who am I?”, in the context of a chaotic and rapidly globalizing transnational citizenry. Each performer’s history is affected by the legacy of their home country’s humanitarian, social, and economic crises stemming from colonialism, war, genocide, political turmoil, and natural disaster.
Soil draws on dance forms and multicultural landscapes of America and Asia, performing a vision of 21st Century global society. This expression of intercultural being both connects with and challenges the audience’s sense of identity. Various dance forms and styles—including Western contemporary, Cambodian classical, Northern Thai traditional and folk, and butoh—are juxtaposed, remixed and revealed as rooted in the experience of everyday life as global citizens.


Michael Sakamoto (director, project leader) is a transdisciplinary artist active in dance, theater, performance, media art and photography. He is best known as an innovator in contemporary butoh, which serves as the physical and philosophical base of all of his works. Michael’s ensemble and solo performances have been presented internationally in 14 countries throughout Asia, Europe and North America, including the GAS Festival (Sweden), TACT/Fest (Japan), and Vancouver International Dance Festival (Canada). He has won grants from major funders, including the National Dance Project, Japan Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Arts International, Meet the Composer, DanceUSA, and others. Michael began performing with legendary performance artist, Rachel Rosenthal, and is former co-founding director of the avant-garde theater ensemble, Empire of Teeth, cited by LA Weekly as a Best of LA. Michael is also a scholar and educator who has taught and lectured internationally and published articles. He is former Program Co-Director of the MFA-Interdisciplinary Arts program at Goddard College and currently serves as Assistant Professor in Dance at the University of Iowa.

Waewdao Sirisook is the premiere dancer-choreographer working in traditional, folk, and contemporary dance of northern Thailand. She is dedicated to developing the broad range of arts and culture from her native Lanna (“a million rice fields” in northern Thai dialect) region for international audiences. Waewdao’s ensemble, solo, and guest performances have been presented throughout Thailand and in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, China, India, Myanmar, Canada, and the USA, including such venues as REDCAT, TACTFest Osaka, Esplanade da:ns Festival, UCLA, and others. She has also performed throughout Asia, Europe, and North America as a representative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and in commercial engagements in Thailand for nearly two decades. Waewdao’s most recent solo and collaborative stage works, Lanna Dream and Fauwn Leb/Identity, are inspired by postmodern and contemporary discourse and speak to issues of the tourist gaze, globalized culture, and gendered self-exotification. She holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA, has taught performance at Chiang Mai University, UCLA, and Santa Monica College, and is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor in Dance at University of Iowa. More info at www.waewdaosirisook.org.

Chankethya Chey started her classical dance training at the age of five. As one of Cambodia’s top classical dancers, Kethya has performed nationally and internationally with the Cambodian Ballet Royal Troupe. In 2006, she was awarded a Choreography Arts Management Fellowship to support a three-month residency at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2009 she received an Asian Cultural Council grant to participate in American Dance Festival. Kethya has worked under some of the world’s leading contemporary choreographers at World Dance Alliance choreographic labs in Brisbane, Hong Kong and New Delhi and has been a featured dancer in works by Emmanuèle Phuon, Peter Chin, Arco Renz and others who have toured extensively throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Kethya was a soloist in CRACK, a contemporary Cambodian dance work by German choreographer Arco Renz that was awarded the 2012 ZKB Patronage Prize. Kethya teaches classical Cambodian dance at the Secondary School of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and is the leader of Trey Visay (Compass), a dance ensemble consisting of nine young Cambodian dancers that aims to explore and create their own contemporary dance vocabulary. She was a 2011-2014 Fulbright and ACC grantee while earning her MFA in Dance at UCLA. Her solo performance, “My Mother and I,” was presented at the Season of Cambodia Festival 2013 in New York, and she was the Mo Ostin Performing Arts Award winner 2013.

Nguyễn Nguyên is a choreographer, dance filmmaker, and educator based in Los Angeles. Nguyên was born in Vietnam and came to the United States at seven years old. His work has been presented at Highways Performance Space, Anatomy Riot, Diavolo Space, Citrus College Dance Festival, Dancers For Life at Landis Performing Arts Center, Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, American College Dance Festival, and the Guangdong International Dance Festival in China. Nguyên is a founding member of Los Angeles Movement Arts, an interdisciplinary arts collective. He holds an MFA in Dance and Choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. Nguyên taught at Santa Monica College and Cal State LA and has worked with many artists, including David Roussève, Cheng-Chieh Yu, Katsura Kan, Simone Forti, Holly Johnston and Maria Gillespie. He is currently on faculty at Renaissance Arts Academy and is a member of the dance theater collective, The Rock Collection.

Downloads & Links

Michael Sakamoto’s website
“Soil” Press Kit

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