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Our Mandate

TomoeArts is a dance theatre company that works between traditions and disciplines. We promote, teach and perform Japanese classical dance. We create and present interdisciplinary performances that incorporate traditional Japanese forms and aesthetics. We are a resource for information on these performance forms, and bring together community, academic and professional worlds.

The Name TomoeArts

A tomoe (pronounced: toh-moh-ay) is an abstract shape that looks like a comma and is usually found in a pattern of two (futatsudomoe) or three (mitsudomoe). It is whorl, swirl or vortex.

Tomoe Gozen was a warrior general in the Genji clan in 12th century Japan. The only warrior play in the noh theatre repertoire to feature a woman is called Tomoe and describes the final battle of her lord Yoshinaka. She was one of the few of his generals who survived the battle. She is described in the Tale of Heike:

Tomoe was indescribably beautiful[...] Even so, she was a fearless rider and a woman skilled with a bow. Once her sword was drawn, even gods and devils feared to fight against her. Indeed, she was a match for a thousand. Thus it was that whenever a war broke out, she armed herself with a strong bow and a great sword, and took a position among the leaders. In many battles she had won matchless fame."

page 519 of the translation by Hiroshi Kitagawa and Bruce T. Tsuchida.

The image to the left is an image of Tomoe Gozen drawn by 19th century artist Kikuchi Yôsai.

Artistic & Managing Director: Colleen Lanki

Colleen is a theatre artist based in Vancouver, Canada. She has been directing, choreographing and performing internationally for over two decades in shows of every variety. She has a BFA in Theatre Performance from Toronto's York University and an MFA in Directing and Asian Theatre from the University of Hawaii. Colleen was based in Tokyo for years, where she studied nihon buyoh under master dancer Fujima Yûko (1938-2002), taking the professional name Fujima Sayû. She now studies with Fujima Shôgo. She also studied noh (traditional Japanese theatre) under noh expert Richard Emmert and noh master Ômura Sadamu. She has performed in various recitals, as well as dancing the main role in the noh play Tomoe at the National Noh Theatre's small stage in Tokyo. While in Tokyo, she worked as a performer, director, choreographer and acting instructor, and founded Kee Company, a group dedicated to intercultural, collaborative performance focusing on the Pacific Rim, producing shows and performance events in Japan, Hawaii, Australia and Canada. Colleen is a founding member of Theatre Nohgaku, an international group dedicated to the performance and teaching of noh theatre. Selected projects include playing the title role in the English-language noh play Crazy Jane , choreographing the English-language premiere of Mishima Yukio's kabuki The Sardine Seller's Net of Love , writing an article on gender in nihon buyoh, published in Performative Body Spaces: Corporeal Topographies in Literature, Theatre, Dance, and the Visual Arts (Rodopi Press), and directing Shadow Catch, a chamber opera about Vancouver's downtown eastside for Pro Musica. Colleen's theatre work focuses on contemporary female playwrights in Japan and she has co-translated and directed the English language premieres of Kisaragi Koharu's expressionistic play MORAL, (published in the Asian Theatre Journal) and Kishida Rio's avant-garde masterpiece Thread Hell. She is currently working on her doctorate at the University of British Columbia.
See: www.colleenlanki.com

Board of Directors

  • Maiko Behr, Japanese Arts Consultant and Translator

  • Ryan Caron, Theatre Director & Producer

  • Gary J. Matson, Lindsay Kenney, LLP

  • Keiko Minato

  • Wakana Nakajo, Executive Assistant, Listel Hospitality Group

  • Julia Poissant, Credit Administrator, Kuehne and Nagel Services Ltd.

  • Ryo Sugiyama, Curator, Nitobe Memorial Garden, UBC

  • Ingrid Valou, Communications Specialist, Vancouver Economic Commission

  • for board biographies click HERE

    Founders Circle

    • Gordon Kadota, Principal, Canaway Consultants/Managing Director, O.K. Gift Shop

    • Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, Research Fellow and Curator Emerita, Museum of Anthropology UBC

    • Thi Tran, Theatre and Film Performer

    • Leonora Grande, Writer and Theatre Artist