Tokunaga Dance Ko.

Emiko Tokunaga        

Emiko is Co-artistic Director of the NY-based Tokunaga Dance Ko. (TDK).  In May 2011, she resigned as Artistic Director of Summer Dance, academic advisor, modern dance instructor, and resident costume designer at The Boston Conservatory (now at Berklee College).  She was formerly Radcliffe Dance Program Coordinator at Harvard, and also taught on the faculty of Douglass-Rutgers and Hofstra Universities. 

In high school, she won the “I Speak for Democracy” contest in her senior year.  She earned her BFA from the University of Utah (Honors of Entrance, Samuel Rosenfield Memorial Scholarship, Orchesis), and her MA from New York University (Alpha Kappa Delta – education; Kappa Delta Phi – sociology).  Her lectures include Harvard University, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, Emerson College, MIT, NY Japan Society, NYU Gallatin Division, University of Houston, Scranton University, DeSales University to mention a few. 

At TBC, she reinstated the Summer Dance Program (after a 10 year hiatus) and attracted students nationally and internationally, employed a world-class faculty  (for ballet, modern, styles, propioceptive classes), as well as established three lecture series: Faculty Dance Traditions – we are what we were, Dance Dialogues (similarities/differences found in movement arts throughout the world), and Dance Forums.  TBC Dance Theater premiered her choreography:  The Bridge, Hanayagi, Gaman (based on the Japanese American women’s experience), and Narrow Interior Roads.  As resident costume designer she collaborated with: Seán Curran, Laszlo Berdo, Peter Anastos, Daniel Pelzig, Donald Byrd, Thang Dao, Victor Plotnikov, Bonnie Mathis, among others.  She adapted the original designs for José Limón’s Concerto Grosso and Psalm (staged by Jennifer Scanlon), Martha Graham’s Night Journey (staged by Yuriko), Bournonville’s Napoli (staged by Laura Young), and Anna Sokolow’s Dream in Magritte, Magritte (staged by Jimmy May).  In 2003 and 2008, she received the Outstanding Faculty Award by the Student Government Association.

At Harvard University, she was Resident Fellow in the Administrative Fellowship Program ‘95’96, guest speaker at the Center for the Study of World Religions on Japanese Culture through Dance – history and comparison with America, and first speaker for the arts at the 10th Annual Women’s Leadership Project.  As Radcliffe Dance Coordinator, she developed the student indices and dance summit to include all movement arts on campus, increased enrollment to over 300 students (not including the 17 clubs), interviewed potential students in dance for the Office of Admissions, hosted dance guests on campus, and administered the dance office.

Emiko authored Yuriko—To Wash in the Rain and Polish with the Wind, America-no-Itohan/Princess from America – an haute couture’s Cinderella Story, and is working on a book on fashion.  She published articles in Dance Magazine, Attitude, Dance Teacher, Radcliffe News, Career Choices (6th grade math textbook by Houghton Mifflin, among others.  As a multi-cultural facilitator, she produced 15 Celebrate Asian Festivals for the NY and Queens Botanical Gardens.  As an educator, she taught and lectured in over 40 institutions.  As a cultural anthropologist, she is a protégé of the late doyenne of African dance, Pearl Primus.  As a choreographer, she created over 60 dances and a dozen productions. 

She apprenticed with her late mother, Utako Tokunaga, an haute couture designer in the French tradition.  Together they designed and executed costumes of TDK, which includes a repertory of over 100 works, 2,000 performances, and more than a dozen productions.  She is currently a member of the Couture Council at the Fashion Institute of Technology. 

Photo credit:  Liz Linder
Photo Credit:  James Reid Stephens