Lisa Kusanagi

Screendance Adjudicator

Lisa Kusanagi is a Tokyo/NYC-based conceptual artist, artistic director, choreographer, filmmaker, and dance educator. Kusanagi identifies as a Dance Expressionist, believing that dance is one of the most organic and radical languages for artistic endeavor. The body knows infinitely more than what the mind can comprehend; Kusanagi’s work is rigorously conceptual, and creates meaning through virtuosic physicality. Born in Tokyo, Kusanagi was raised in Japan, Australia and the United States, and began her formal dance training at a young age at Tokyo’s Matsuyama Ballet School. She moved to the United States to pursue her education in 2007 and completed a BA in Theatre Arts and Dance from Sonoma State University (CA) and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University (VA). In 2014, she founded a nonprofit performance art company, Lisa Kusanagi Dance Expressionist, in New York City and co-founded an interdisciplinary art collective, Kusanagi Sisters, with her sister JuJu Kusanagi. Based in NYC, Seattle and Tokyo, Kusanagi Sisters has produced live performances and films worldwide. As a performer, Kusanagi has been praised for her "wit, skill, and a mind lustrous and inexhaustible" (CriticalDance.org). Her dance and performance art works have been presented in venues such as Movement Research at the Judson Church (NY), Judson Church STUFFED (NY), Danspace Project DraftWork (NY), Harlem Stage E-Moves 16: The Takeover (NY), HATCH Presenting Series (NY), Sonoma State University (CA), American College Dance Festival-West Region (CA), D.I.R.T. Festival-Dance In Revolt(ing) Times: Holding Our Ground 2017 (CA), Hollins University (VA), Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival 2016 (MI), Universidad de las Americas Puebla (Mexico), Danza UDLAP (Mexico), Performática 2016 (Mexico), Australasian Animal Studies Association Conference closing event: Animal Intersections (Australia), and others. Her films, including work by Kusanagi Sisters, have been screened across the United States and at festivals and venues in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Chile, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Albania, Kenya, China, and Indonesia. One of Kusanagi Sisters' original films, itsy bitsy, has received many awards including First Place in pre-professional category at 2016 Utah Dance Film Festival (UT) and Audience Choice Award at the 2015 40 NORTH Dance Film Festival (CA). Critic Megan Stevenson wrote, "The sisters, in canary yellow lipstick, performed delicate finger dances in a mushroom forest, sipped through novelty straws, carefully stepped over eyeballs on a bark floor, and played mushrooms like musical wine glasses. ...In this film (and often in the world), sometimes weirdness is paradise" (Seattledances.com). The film has been screened in 15 countries at over 30 festivals, 5 universities, 3 galas, and many venues including AMC Theatres, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and the JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles LED billboards. Kusanagi has been a member of Mark Haim Dance and Theater since 2012 and has performed in work by Yvonne Meier, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Fernanda D’Agostino, The House of ia and among other artists. She has taught movement-based art, dance composition, art and ethics, and dance on film at Hollins University (VA), Sonoma State University (CA), Patrick Henry High School (VA), and Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival (MI); Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla and Performática (Mexico); and Labo International Exchange Foundation (Japan). Most recently, from 2015-2017 she taught dance, art and ethics, dance film, dance studies, dance composition, and repertoire as an Assistant Professor of Dance at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico.