Sansei: The Storyteller

Sansei Poster FinalCo-sponsored by the Slocan Lake Gallery Society.


Using dance, theatre, and humour Mark Kunji Ikeda narrates the story of Japanese Internment in BC.  He investigates the social climates and hardships from a time when his own family was labelled enemy aliens. He delves into one of Canada’s darkest decisions, and unwraps how racism of past generations has affected the Japanese community today.

This production was nominated for Best Solo Performance at the 2015 Calgary Critters and won Best of Fest at the 2014 Calgary Fringe Festival.

“Performers and audience alike were thoroughly engaged by Mark’s weaving of a personal story with a tale of profound historical impact. Sansei is storytelling at it’s finest; sophisticated, meaningful, moving, and humorous.” – Laurie Fife, Ottawa Storytellers Society

As Mark relates:  “Through this project, I’ve combined the most incredible story of my family history with the more incredible methods of storytelling. The title holds a particular personal relevance. The Storyteller is classically meant to please and instruct, to be alluring and surprising; in this piece I’ve unleashed theatrical devices, contemporary dance, recorded family interviews, and historical publications to give the full breadth and scope of this experience… this exceptionally dark experience that has lead to my birth: a real silver lining from my own perspective. As for Sansei: Third Generation Japanese Canadian (ancestors arriving before WWI) – I believe I am the youngest Sansei in Canada, perhaps even North America. Through this personal narrative unwrapped through the performance, my grandfather had my father – and my father sired myself – exceptionally late in life. So if there are any other Sansei out in Canada who are under 30 – please speak up!”

Ikeda creates original performances that combine narrative and dance. His training in dance and theatre has developed a unique methodology, combining story, imagination, and choreography that lead to being named the 2015 Emerging Artist by Calgary Arts Development Authority.

Mark is an ensemble member of the Dancers’ Studio West and has taught at the University of Calgary and the Rosebud School of the Arts. He has also served as the Artistic Director of MoMo Dance Theatre.  He has found a special place in his heart for the Kootenays.

Mark will perform SANSEI: THE STORYTELLER  at the Kohan Garden, New Denver, on August 20 and 21, 2 pm.

All Sansei performances are made possible by support from the BC Multiculturalism Fund. The Columbia Basin Trust, RDCK, Slocan Lake Gallery Society and the Slocan Lake Garden Society are also providing financial support for the Kohan Garden performances.