Ayano Elson is a performer, designer, and choreographer based in Brooklyn, New York. She was born in Okinawa, Japan, a small island colonized by Japan in 1879 and controlled by the United States from 1945–1972.
Her recent works include: Name Is Yoko (Gibney Dance Center, New York, 2014); Spatial Study (Roulette, Brooklyn, 2016); Clingstone (Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, 2017); New Wave (Knockdown Center, Queens, 2018); and Double Moon (Chocolate Factory, Long Island City, 2018). Her choreography has also been presented by Lincoln Center, Movement Research at the Judson Church, MANA Contemporary, Mount Tremper Arts, and the New Museum.
Ayano has developed her work through artist residencies including: Gibney Dance Center’s Work Up (April 2015), AUNTS at Mount Tremper Arts (July 2015), and the Movement Research Van Lier Emerging Artist of Color Fellow (January–December 2018). As a Movement Research Fellow, she participated in MRX/Movement Research Exchange and led guest artist workshops at the Living Room in Portland, Maine and at Seoul Dance Center in Seoul, South Korea. Ayano also had the pleasure of lecturing at Dance/NYC 2019 Symposium’s “Consent in Today’s Dance Landscape”, with an invitation from curator and artist Stephanie Acosta.
Ayano’s work as a choreographer has been influenced by her work as a performer. She has performed with Kim Brandt in: Untitled (Kitchen) (The Kitchen, New York, 2014); Landscapes (Audio Visual Arts Gallery, New York, 2015); Clear Night (Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, 2016); The Volume (SculptureCenter, Long Island City, 2017); Problems (MoMA PS1, Long Island City, 2018); Corners (The Shed, New York, 2019). Ayano has also had the pleasure of performing in Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions weekly as part of the recent exhibition “Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done” at the Museum of Modern Art (September 2018–February 2019). She also performs in the work of Bell and Clixby, devynn emory, Kyli Kleven and Jessica Cook at venues including: Lyles and King gallery, lmak gallery, Movement Research at the Judson Church, and Roulette.
These performance experiences, alongside her education as a dual major in art history and dance at Connecticut College, shape the way she approaches choreography. Ayano’s work is part of a rigorous tradition of experimental dance-making. She makes performances that are in conversation with visual art and thus, not isolated for the theater.