Dance performance evokes Hiroshima

New Denver artist uses dance to depict her experiences during the bombing of Hiroshima.

New Denver painter and dancer Tsuneko Kokubo is a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. She depicted that experience in Regeneration, a dance performance at Touchstones on Friday.

She was joined by dancer Thomas Loh, musicians Paul Gibbons and Takeo Yamashiro, and narrator Toru Fujibayashi.

The only prop in the dance is a watermelon, handed back and forth between the dancers, and broken open.

“When the bomb hit,” Kokubo told the Star, “I was eight years old, eating a watermelon. The taste of a watermelon always brings it back. It is not a horrific memory because I was just a child eating a watermelon, but as I age, the sweetness of the watermelon is the sweetness of life and how much we should treasure it.”

Fujibayashi was one of thousands of Japanese Canadians interned in the Kootenays during the Second World War.

“I have been a resident here ever since then, so I always feel like this is my home, the roots have gone deeply, and have come together with the people I have the pleasure of performing with here,” said Fujibayashi.

“The word ‘regeneration,’ that has really happened for me in the couple of years we have done this show. It is almost like being able to release a lot of the past. It moves me deeply, and to do it in Nelson is special because I have family here.”

The performance was part of the opening of an exhibit of paintings by Kokubo and sculptures by Fujibayashi that runs at Touchstones until November 13.