Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE ME

World Premiere running at MATCH from March 17-20

By: Mar. 18, 2022
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Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE ME Tonight ISHIDA Dance Company opens you could release me in Houston!

This world premiere dance production features choreography by Montreal-based choreographers Jeremy Galdeano and Vera Kvarcakova, award-winning British Finnish choreographer Kristian Lever, and Paris-based choreographer Emilie Leriche.

I spoke with ISHIDA Dance Company's Artistic Director and Choreographer Brett Ishida about the meaning behind ISHIDA's work, what ignites her as a choreographer, and what to look forward to in you could release me!

If you could describe you could release me in three words, what would they be and why?

  1. Unique - We're presenting works by choreographers that are rare to see in the US with a diverse array of artists from all across the continent. We're a world-class contemporary dance company for Texas.
  2. Beautiful - We have gorgeous dancers set to beautiful music and movement.
  3. Emotional - This program will move audiences and may draw forth a sense of catharsis reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedy over 2,000 years ago.
Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE ME
ISHIDA Dance Company's
Artistic Director & Choreographer

How did ISHIDA come to be? What inspired you to create a company that focuses on narrative, introspection, and the human experience?

I love dance, but as I surveyed much of the dance in the US it was either classical (which is beautiful but fails to catch the interest of many in our modern society) or contemporary (which has interesting and provocative movement but often leaves the audience a little bewildered as to what they've just seen).

I thought, why can't I create dance that is at once, beautiful, with interesting movement, and addresses themes and narratives that relate to a modern audience? And I was influenced by what I know the role of arts can play in society. Over two thousand years ago in ancient Greece, citizens attended Greek theatre; it was one's civic duty. These plays informed society of its moral code. The performances were cathartic and the personal narratives portrayed connected to audiences emotionally, creating space to hold the spectrum of human experience, from joy and lightness to the dark, difficult aspects of the human condition.

Through performance, individuals and society at large were able to reflect on, grapple with, and ultimately grow in the face of innate human experiences from desire, jealousy, and loneliness to belonging, hope, fragility, and mortality. ISHIDA's contemporary narratives mirror the ethos of the communal civic duty of Greek tragedy. My work invites existential questions and emotional connection, allowing audiences to extract personal meaning because there is a narrative thread expressed through the movement that is relatable and universal.

Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE ME
ISHIDA Dance in you could release me.

I see in my notes that you have a wide variety of interests in your background! How does your interest in these disciplines influence your work as a choreographer?

Studying literature at UCLA, ancient Greek language, Greek philosophy which utilizes poetic structures, and ancient Greek tragedy has had a direct and significant influence on ISHIDA Dance.

I structure my narratives using conceits of Ancient Greek language and culture, which then influences the choreographic process. I harness fundamental narrative devices seen in ancient Greek tragedy which were also noted by Shakespeare and many other great playwrights. The communal experience of Greek tragedy in its social and historical context united the moral code of its citizens and encouraged thinking about Otherness.

The intent of my work has the same motivation-to play with the tension between the collective and the individual experience.

How do they define and inform one another and what can we learn from each?

Before I get into a studio, I engage in a rigorous writing process. I start by creating poetic fragments. From there, I develop a structure for the work similar to that of a play. With this framework, I start to create a movement that stems from the context of the plot, the character development, and his/her/their motives for being.

It is a collaborative process in that the dancers bring their individuality and personal experience to the work. One of my dancers said that my creative process was like going to therapy. My work encourages self-awareness and a heightened awareness of the presence and experience of others, too. My hope is that the process of creating and watching dance prompts introspection in each of the artists with whom I work and each of the audience members who will ultimately see that work. By creating basic structures that leave room for the process of further creation, expression, and interpretation, I hope to foster curiosity in both artist and spectator and afford the opportunity for deep meditation on Being and the possibilities for becoming more other-centric.

What are you the proudest of when it comes to "you could release me"?

For one, our dancers, I try to recruit dancers who are not only beautiful and talented but are willing to experiment, collaborate, be hardworking, kind, respectful, and think for themselves. When the dancers have these qualities there is camaraderie and cohesiveness which you can feel and see. They are genuinely invested and dedicated to their craft and this reads from the audience. They are extraordinary people and bring humanity to this work that demands it.

What can an audience member expect when they buy a ticket for this world premiere?

Expect to have an amazing time! We are unlike any dance company in the US. Prepare to be moved by the thoughtful narratives and awed by the physicality and beauty of the dancers, the movement, and the music. ISHIDA will steal your heart...

ISHIDA Dance is performing you could release me from Thursday, March 17 to Sunday, March 20 at the MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston) at 3400 Main Street Houston, TX 77002. Tickets start at $50. Visit for tickets and more information.