Ayako Kato

Ayako Kato

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A headshot of a Japanese woman wearing a gray turtleneck sweater and green cardigan. She looks over her right shoulder to stare directly at the viewer with brown eyes. She has long, black hair and is slightly smiling.]

Portrait photo by Ralph Kühne.

Experimental Dancer, Choreographer, and Improviser
Chicago, IL
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Walder Foundation.

Ayako Kato is a kinetic philosopher/poet born and raised in Japan. Kato’s work has been grounded on the principles of fūryū, Japanese for “wind flow,” cyclical transformation and human motion in nature. Initiating Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape in 1998, she has been engaging in collaboration with free improvisers, experimental musicians, and composers in the US, Japan, and Europe through an equal, dynamic, and interdependent relationship between movement and sound. Advocating freedom, dignity of life, and restoration of human relationships with nature, Ayako creates solo and ensemble pieces and movement installations for traditional stages and site-specific locations.

In fall 2022, she toured Europe for music and dance projects and also premiered LUCA―the Last Universal Common Ancestor/Res Communis: ETHOS Episode III, a nature-walk style dance and music installation piece at Palmisano Park, the land transformed from 400 million-year-old coral reefs to Indigenous Peoples living place to quarry to landfill to park, as part of Elevate Chicago Dance Festival presented by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum and produced by High Concept Labs.

She is the recipient of a 2022 Esteemed Artist Award from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; a 2021 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award in Choreography; a 3Arts Award in Dance; a 3Arts Residency Fellowship at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, CA and at the Camargo Foundation in France; a Meier Achievement Award; Best of Dance by The Chicago Tribune and See Chicago Dance; a High Concept Labs Fellowship (2020–2022); and was Chicago Moving Company Dance Shelter Artist-in-Residence since 2010.

  • Artwork by Ayako Kato
    Inception: ETHOS Episode II Circle Dance insertion
    [ID: ​​An infographic entitled "INSERTION DIRECTION & PATHWAYS." The graphic consists of a light gray circle with three black lines that intersect one another to create a star-like shape. On the outer circumference of the circle are points with corresponding names "Ayako, Danielle, Amanda, Tuli, and Leslie."]
Artwork by Ayako Kato