Each spring, the Seattle International Dance Festival hosts a wide variety of dance companies from around the world, and 2023 is no different. In the IE, we have featured SIDF in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2022, and now, this year’s festival includes a diverse array of artists such as local company Degenerate Art Ensemble, New York dancer Ishita Mili, and several companies from South Korea.

The festival begins on June 10 with almost daily performances, and on June 11, Ishita Mili performs her new piece entitled Therapy’s Expensive, new solo work fusing street, contemporary, and classical Indian dance to navigate relationships with religion and culture. “The piece is really a journal entry written in bharatanatyam, hip hop, and chhau,” Mili described. “It takes a look into my own cyclic and sometimes toxic relationship with Hinduism, guru-shishya systems, partners, and the public eye.” 

This new work is deeply personal for Mili. “Sometimes the challenges in life feel too silly, too deep, too culturally specific, to explain in words,” she elaborated. “Dance has always been therapy for me.”

Mili is now based in Brooklyn, and this is her third appearance at SIDF. “They have been really open to my genre-blurring work, and have taken risks to program me,” she enthused. “This stage has really been pivotal to my career, and I’m excited to come back to the stage with my first solo.”


The following Thursday, June 15, Degenerate Art Ensemble will present Anima Mundi – Amnesia. DAE’s Haruko “Crow” Nishimura and Joshua Kohl are currently two of SIDF’s five 2023 Artists in Residence, supported by the James Ray Residency Project, which offers artists time and resources to develop new work and connect to a wider audience.

Nishimura and Kohl appreciate the welcome they have received from SIDF. “Kudos to SIDF for continuing to expand the bounds and styles of dance that are being embraced in a dance festival setting,” Kohl said. “More and more these days dance festivals are questioning what contemporary dance means, opening it up to people who come from other traditions and paths.”

DAE’s work crosses the lines of dance, physical theater, butoh, and performance art.  “The idea of dance is opening up more and more, and attempting to decolonize the idea of what should or shouldn’t be considered in a dance festival context,” Kohl added. “It is wonderful to be part of this ongoing dialogue.” 

The Residency is already affording DAE new opportunities. “They are committed to facilitating tour exchanges to promote us in touring nationally and internationally,” Kohl shared. “As part of that, we were able to invite our long-time friend and collaborator Shinichi Iova-Koga and his company Inkboat to share the bill with us at this coming performance.”


DAE’s current project explores amnesia as it relates to human disconnection from the natural world, with its attendant destruction of flora and fauna, while the piece also explores opportunities for mending that disconnection through ritual and ceremony.  “We are all facing such a massively critical moment in time where we need to wake up from our daydream of human-centric thinking to the reality that we are part of this larger whole,” Nishimura said. “We imagine that through the power of these connective practices, we as a species have the potential to be reawakened, connecting us to our responsibilities and our potential for change and transformation.”

The first iteration of Anima Mundi was performed in New York in 2021 at the Performance Mix Festival, and DAE is looking forward to presenting the second iteration at SIDF. “This is one chapter of a much bigger project,” Nishimura explained. “This is how we work. We will take two or three years creating a new work, but we will share many facets and pieces of it throughout that period.”

Following DAE, the South Korea Fest will be presented on Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17.  On Friday, Yoon Su-mi Dance Company will present Tundra, about ecology and the earth.  Based in Tank, South Korea, this company was founded in 2010 by artistic director Yoon Su-mi. 

Tundra was originally performed in the Seoul International Dance Festival in Tank, held annually in July at Oil Tank Culture Park in South Korea, as part of a larger effort in Seoul to support dance by offering dance education including Dance Improvisation, Choreography Workshop, Mentoring Workshop, Dance for Camera, and Classical Dance, as well as creating global networks of dance artists by offering international dance workshops with professional artists from Europe and the USA.

On Saturday, June 17, SIDF features Unplugged Bodies Dance Company, who will present Homo Lupiens, the third piece in the company’s “human exploration” trilogy. Unplugged Bodies Dance Company was launched in 2014 by Kim Kyoung-shin, a choreographer who had undergone three years of rehabilitation following an illness. He reports that he felt unplugged from both dance and society, and in response, he collaborated with British choreographer Freddie Opoku-Addaie on a dance piece called “Unplugged Bodies,” which he then transformed into the name of his new dance company.  

And now, Kim is delighted to return to SIDF. “I participated in the Seattle Dance Festival just before COVID-19 spread around the world,” he said. “Three years later, now I am performing for the SIDF again.”


Homo Lupiens was created following the first two pieces in the Homo series, Homo Ludens and Homo Faber, which look at humans at play and at work, respectively. The word Lupiens combines the words Ludens and Sapience, to mean “future human.” 

The piece imagines humans in the year 2,500, exploring technology, anxieties, and the desire to become godlike. “I choreograph the work, prepare for the performance, and explore and think about various things, but above all, I try to make things that I haven’t seen,” Kim said.  “The scenes that visually represent the future human being and the narration in the work were suitable for forming a consensus with the audience in Seattle.”

Two companies from Seoul, South Korea, will also perform on June 17: Project Artdock presents Hole() lump version 2, a dance performance about desire, and KIMI Dance presents, Homo Ludens II, which centers on the concept of transformation.  

Project Artdock’s choreographer Jeon Ye-hwa explores dance as a language, focusing on its aesthetics and the essential features of movement. Meanwhile, KIMI Dance features the investigations of choreographer Mi-sun Kim, who combines an interest in bodily energy with techniques in traditional Korean dance. 

Since 2006, SIDF has featured dance work from over 40 countries, and seeks to foster dance as an art form in the years to come. Community members interested in supporting this mission are welcome to volunteer year-round or reach out regarding joining the Board of Directors.

Seattle International Dance Festival runs from June 10 to 18 at the Erickson Theater, 1524 Harvard Avenue, Seattle.

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