Inspired by the moving meditation of East Asian calligraphy painting, composer/musician Phyllis Chen investigates the movements made by performance calligraphists: choreographed, efficient, and unfalteringly committed. This work-in-progress examines the intersection between traditional Shodo calligraphy performance and live music and is created in collaboration with shodo artist Masako Inkyo and choreographer/dancer Jodi Melnick.
This project is supported through the Cage Cunningham Fellowship, established in 2015 for artists who demonstrate John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s commitment to artistic innovation. In recognition of Cunningham's centennial celebration in 2019, the 2018—19 Cage Cunningham Fellowship extends the award to five artists including Phyllis Chen.
Leadership support for music programming provided by the Thompson Family Foundation.
Described by the New York Times as "spellbinding" and "delightfully quirky matched with interpretive sensitivity," Phyllis Chen is a composer, keyboardist, and creative force whose music draws from tactile exploration of objects and sound.
Chen is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble and the director-founder of the UnCaged Toy Piano. Most recently, Phyllis was named one of the 2018-19 Cage Cunningham Fellows by Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Masako Inkyo began her Japanese calligraphy training at the age of three. After continuing her practice throughout middle school, high school and college, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Literature and Calligraphy at Yasuda University.
Inkyo is a member of the two largest Shodo professional associations in Japan. In both she holds the highest rank, based on work she has submitted. She has also received many awards, including first prizes in both Shodo and pen calligraphy in national competitions sponsored by the Ministry of Education. From 2003 to 2017 she taught Shodo at the Japan Society and from 2015 to 2017 at the Keio Academy of New York. She continues to undertake various design commissions. Inkyo has achieved an extensive portfolio of artwork and design. From 2009 to 2010, she was the official Shodo artist for the car company Infiniti and also collaborated with Mikimoto America to do performances in their New York and Las Vegas branches. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Inkyo collaborated with jazz pianist Greg McKenzie on several mixed-media Shodo and Music performances at the Park Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. In addition, she designed a hotel room (themed “One Hundred Poems”) as part of the “Artist in Hotel” program at the Park Hotel Tokyo. In March 2015, Inkyo gave a workshop and demonstration, themed “The Tale of Genji” at Middlebury College in Vermont to celebrate their acquisition of an authentic historical Japanese folding screen (byōbu). Also in 2015, the Harrison Public Library completely renovated their building and placed a piece of Masako Inkyo’s art on permanent display in the newly refurbished premises. More recently, Masako made several Shodo designs for the newly opened Morimoto Asia Restaurant at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In February 2017 she conducted a demonstration and workshop at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Masako Inkyo’s art was featured in the book, 100 New York Calligraphers.
Jodi Melnick, NYC-based choreographer, dancer, and teacher, designs intricate movement to explore the exquisite nature and dynamic relationships between human beings. Her work has been presented both nationally and internationally.
Melnick’s critically acclaimed New Bodies, created on New York City Ballet principal dancers Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, and Gretchen Smith, originated at Jacobs Pillow and went on to perform at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC and the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. Her work has been presented at BAM Fisher Theater as part of the Next Wave Festival, City Center’s Fall for Dance, The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, La Mama, Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, Martha’s Vineyard, Vail International Dance Festival. She commissioned a solo for Damian Woetzel and Yo Yo Ma that was presented throughout Japan, The Dublin Dance Festival, St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, and throughout Estonia. In 2012, Melnick had the esteemed privilege of collaborating with Trisha Brown, and performing the solo One of Sixty-five Thousand Gestures. Melnick has worked with Twyla Tharp (1990-1994, 2009), Sara Rudner, David Neuman, Yoshiko Chuma, John Jasperse, Vicky Shick, Beth Gill, Rashaun Mitchell, Jon Kinzel, Paul Kaiser, Liz Roche, Charles Atlas, David Michalek, Yvonne Rainer, and Sibyl Kempson, and has performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov (2005-2008). Melnick was honored with a Doris Duke Impact Award (2014), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2012), a Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Grant (2010-2011), a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2011), two NY Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards for sustained achievement in dance (2001 and 2008), a Gibney DIP Residency Grant, an Extended Life grant awarded from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center, and a 2019 Center for Ballet Arts Residency Fellowship.
Carrie Schneider, Julia Gang, Hideko Gillam, Christopher Duggan