TomoeArts is a dance theatre company that works between traditions and disciplines. We promote Japanese performing arts - particularly nihon buyoh or Japanese classical dance - through presentations, classes, workshops and special events. 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 has two inspirations:
- 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. She is described in the Tale of the Heike and is the title character of the warrior noh play Tomoe.
Our Board of Directors
- Maiko Behr, Japanese Arts Consultant and Translator
Maiko is a freelance translator in the field of Japanese art (maikobehr.com) and a certified instructor of Japanese tea ceremony in the Omotesenke tradition (sabiteaarts.com.)
- Ryan Caron, Theatre Director & Producer
Ryan is a producer, dancer, and director working in pop culture and immersive theatre forms. His work is informed by a background in mental health care, a progressive activist lens, and a queer perspective. He is the Co-Artistic Director of Geekenders Theatricals.
- Mara Coman, Drafting Technician, COWI North America
Mara Coman was working in comic book lettering, helping to bring Japanese comics to the North American market. Recently she has migrated her career from creative illustration to technical drafting. Following her love of Japanese arts and culture she has been practicing nihon buyoh since 2016. In her spare time she enjoys sewing, drawing, writing, cycling, and archery.
- Gary J. Matson, Lawyer, Remedios & Company
Gary has a BA in Asian Studies and an MA in Modern Japanese Literature from UBC. He is a recipient of the Japan Consul General's Commendation for contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Canada.
- Keiko Minato, Childcare Worker
A native of Japan, Keiko now lives and works in Vancouver. She is a specialist in the hospitality industry and also works in childcare.
- Wakana Nakajo, Executive Assistant, & Hospitality Industry Expert
Wakana is an expert in the hospitality industry and practices tea ceremony in the Omotesenke tradition.
- Julia Poissant, Student Project Assistant, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, Indigenous Initiatives at UBC
A recent graduate of UBC in International Relations, Julia has a passion for sustainable development and cultural exchange. An enthusiastic supporter of Japanese arts and culture, Julia is proud to help promote knowledge and performance of nihon buyoh in Vancouver. While not much of a dancer, she is a shodan with Canada Shotokan Karate.
- Ryo Sugiyama, Curator, Nitobe Memorial Garden, UBC
Ryo is the curator and horticulturist for the Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC. He received his Bachelor and Master's degree in Horticulture from Chiba University in Japan and also holds a first level landscape gardening enforcement control technician certificate. He loves spending time in nature with his family and playing soccer.
- Ingrid Valou, Communications and Media Relations, Vancouver Economic Commission
Ingrid is a public relations professional and multidisciplinary artist who has designed and managed prize-winning PR and marketing campaigns recognized by the Canadian Public Relations Society (Vancouver) and STORYHIVE. Outside of her duties with the VEC, she runs a small jewellery design business out of her East Van studio, performs as a flautist in the local music community, and serves as President of the board of the Vancouver Metal Arts Association (VMAA).
Our Artistic & Managing Director
Colleen Lanki is a theatre artist who has been directing, choreographing and performing internationally for over two decades in shows of every variety. She was based in Tokyo for many years, where she studied nihon buyoh under master dancer Fujima Yūko (1938-2002), taking the professional name Fujima Sayū. She now studies with Fujima Shōgo and returns to Japan annually. She also studied noh (traditional Japanese theatre) under noh expert Richard Emmert and noh master Ōmura Sadamu. 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. She is currently working on her doctorate at the University of British Columbia, writing about the work of avant-garde playwright Kishida Rio and her company of actors.