Marika Niko

Marika Niko MFA 2023 Hometown: Yokohama, Japan Degree: B.A. Theater, New York University Abu Dhabi Marika’s dance background began at the age of three in London, when she started classical ballet. Although she continued with ballet for 11 more years, she wanted to explore other realms of expression and pursue movement forms that were more liberating and personal. Marika wanted to deconstruct the ballet language that she had embodied for years, and found herself being slowly drawn to interoceptive movement forms, especially the Japanese dance form of Butoh. She responded to how the body became a site of knowledge about herself and her understanding of the external world. Having spent the majority of her time living outside of Japan, Marika wanted to focus on getting to know the contemporary dance scene in her home country. She worked at Dance Base Yokohama, a newly opened dance house that aims to cultivate and nurture a solid ground for contemporary dance to develop in Japan. Dance Base Yokohama introduced her to the kinds of artistic expression that are relevant in the Japanese socio-political climate, as well as the intricate, yet unnoticed, labor that goes behind art production. Why Duke University? “I wanted to find a dance program that will allow me to stay fluid in my research—moving in between research and practice, interweaving dance with other academic disciplines—and I thought Duke’s program structure would support me in that.” M.F.A. Research Because she grew up among differences, Marika has constantly felt the need to reflect on the historical narratives that surrounded her. Wanting to break the linearity and singularity—and the exclusion and violence that comes with it—in historical recollection, she hopes to seek for an alternative commemorative process through dance and ultimately contribute to building a more transnational and compassionate space for remembrance. Her research will look closely at Butoh and investigate how historical memories can be remembered, as well as forgotten, through embodiment, particularly across generations and geographical regions. After graduation, she wants to maintain this hybrid identity as a researcher and practitioner, while making works that explore the relationship between historical commemoration, personal recollection, and embodied dance practices.