“Another highlight was Gabrielle Nomura’s 'Farewell Shikata ga nai,' ... The Japanese drum ensemble in the background created a rich, rhythmic structure that created an aura of unrest throughout the work. At the same time, the dancers’ intricate formations and effortless balletic movements provided an effective contrast.” - Seattle Dances
“As the the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, we couldn't be more pleased to support Gabrielle’s new work, which is both an artistic endeavor, as well as a community-building project with a strong social justice statement.”
"Choreographing the dance piece is one way of coming to terms with what happened to Nomura's family and the Japanese American community during the Japanese American incarceration in World War II."
I am thrilled to be revamping my work, Farewell Shikata ga nai for Relay Dance Collective's Season 6 performance in May 2018.
Farewell Shikata ga nai artist statement:
The work combines dance, Asian American theater, and live taiko drumming, and deals with my own feelings about what happened to my jichan (grandfather) and my great-grandparents, along with 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. The title is both a play off of the book "Farewell to Manzanar," and it's also an act of defiance. During the World War II incarceration, Nikkei people frequently said, and had the attitude of, Shikata ga nai (It can't be helped") in regards to what their government was doing to them. In 2018, communities of color are reconciling with, and re-imagining painful moments of the past in powerful ways. And this is what I hope to do as an Asian American artist and activist reconciling with incarceration, more than 70 years later. My piece ends in a scene where a modern-day Japanese American woman dances with the spirit of her ancestors swirling around her; finally, she has found peace between the past and the present, and she moves into the future with love and inspiration for those who came before her, and also, with a certain strength and determination. That's what this work is to me; t's an offering of love for my ancestors. Okage same de.
Farewell Shikata ga nai was made possible by generous grants from the Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle and by Seattle JACL.
The work premiered in spring 2014 at the 92nd Annual Japanese American Citizens League Banquet at Seattle University (March 21), and was then performed at Relay Dance Collective's Beginnings (April 11-13) at Theatre Puget Sound; the Cherry Blossom Festival (April 27); API Heritage Month in Seattle Center (May 4) and culminated in a final performance and panel discussion at Wing Luke Asian American Museum (June 7).