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Our Mandate

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.

Our Name

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, BIM Technician, Mott MacDonald
    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.

  • Issaku Inami Activist and Volunteer,
    Born in Okinawa (Ryukyu) under US occupation, Isaaku is a Queer Activist who devotes his time and energy to volunteering for multiple organizations in which he believes passionately. In addition to TomoeArts, he volunteers with the Museum of Anthropology at UBC as a member of the public-facing education + gallery host committees and President (2021-22). He is a board member and Vice-President of the Queer Arts Festival/Pride in Art Society, and a board member of Zee Zee Theatre. He uses his energy to subvert settler-colonialism from a gender non-conforming and environmentalist perspective.

  • Kristal Hamakawa, Controller, Watson Advisors, Inc.

  • Miyuki Hamakawa, Pilot
    Miyuki has been practicing Nihon buyoh with Tatsumi-Ryu Dance Society for approximately 25 years, She also enjoys cooking, baking, skiing, traveling, and spending time with family. Miyuki grew up in Richmond, and currently lives in Vancouver with her partner and young daughter.

  • 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.

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.
See: www.colleenlanki.com