Called “moving everyday sculptures, artfully cast in naturalness” (Luzerner Zeitung, Switzerland), Ayako Kato established her dance company Ayako Kato/Art Union Humanscape in 1998, and has been active as a choreographer, dancer, educator, and curator. She has created work through interdisciplinary collaboration with more than sixty musician-composers, and has toured throughout the US, Japan, and Europe. Most recently, she received the 2021 Artist Fellowship Award in Choreography by the Illinois Arts Council, the Trillium Arts 2021 ACE Fellowship in Dance, the Best of Dance 2020 in SeeChicagoDance and the High Concept Labs Fellowship. She is also a recipient of a Links Hall Co-MISSION Fellowship, residencies at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California for 2021 and Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France in 2018, a 2016 3Arts Award in Dance, a 2016 Meier Achievement Award, and Top 5 Chicago Choreographers of 2016 by Newcity Stage, and a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award.
She has received recognition for her work as Best of Dance 2014 by the Chicago Tribune, and as one of “Fifty People Who Really Perform For Chicago” by NewCity (2014, 2018, 2020). The company has received funding from the Reva & David Logan Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Japan Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Experimental Sound Studio, and Links Hall. Kato is currently working on the ETHOS trilogy project.
Since 2010, Kato has been an artist in residence at the Hamlin Park Fieldhouse Theater under Chicago Moving Company’s Dance Shelter Program. She has studied dance anatomy under Irene Dowd since 2007. In addition to classical ballet and modern dance, she also studied Tai Chi, Noh Theater, and Butoh with master Kazuo Ohno, one of the founders. She holds MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan and a certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance of Wesleyan University. Gravitating towards eastern and Japanese view of nature, Kato’s dance seeks the way of being and illuminate the dignity of life in response to contemporary society.