with installation above by Sun K. Kwak

Navarrete x Kajiyama creates interdisciplinary performance works using movement, theater, art installation, multimedia, and site-specific environments. Our work has been influenced by ritual, cultural studies, and the political and environmental concerns of the world in which we live. Since 2006, our work has addressed our deepening concern with social and environmental issues. Recent themes include: racial profiling and state brutality, genetic modification of native crops, the commodification of water, cultural colonization, and the human response to overwhelming disaster.

Since 2001, Navarrete x Kajiyama has created work involving members of the Latino transgender community, the local Mexican-American and Japanese-American communities, and San Francisco’s community of Argentine Tango dancers. From 2005-2008, we were artists-in-residency at ODC Theater. In 2006, Navarrete x Kajiyama was named one of the 25 to Watch by Dance Magazine. In 2007, we collaborated with visual artists from Eastside Arts Alliance, an organization of artists and community organizers of color in East Oakland to create the performance environment for The Revenge of Huitlacoche. That same year, Navarrete x Kajiyama was invited to present their work at the Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics' Encuentro in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2008 and 2014, we were chosen to be the San Francisco representative for SCUBA Touring Network performances in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Seattle. In 2010-11 we were Irvine Fellows at the Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center.

In 2014, NAKA created The Anastasio Project, which focused on a community-based creation process. We partnered with Racial Equity Consultant Tammy Johnson, and hosted community forums with Public Defender Matt Gonzalez, activist Cat Brooks, and Border rights activists Mujeres Unidas y Activas to encourage community dialogue and civic participation.

In 2016, we created RACE: Stories from the Tenderloin, which deepened our relationship to Tenderloin residents and a robust network of artists, non-profits, and advocates who have long worked to support this community. The project created a continuing relationship with the Tenderloin National Forest and Anne Bluethenthal’s Skywatchers program which engages residents of Tenderloin SROs in the arts.

Our work has been presented by Dancers' Group's ONSITE, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ODC Theater, the Queer Arts Festival, Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), the Yerba Buena Choreographers Festival, California State University East Bay, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center Performance Series, the Oakland Museum of California, and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. 

Photo by Steven Sanchez

José Navarrete is a native of México City where he was first exposed to theater and dance, choreographing and performing in parks, hospitals, and children's parties as a clown and dancer. He studied dance at the National Institute of Fine Arts in México, and has a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and M.F.A in Dance from Mills College. He has studied dance with Sara Shelton Mann, Taiko with Hiroyuki Nakagawa and Argentine Tango with Nora Dinzelbacher. In 2004, José was the recipient of a Bessie Schönberg residency at The Yard, and a Djerassi residency. José is the recipient of a CHIME Mentorship with Jess Curtis, and a CHIME Across Borders fellowship with Ralph Lemon. Navarrete has taught dance and performance to youth and adults in Mexico, and in the San Francisco Bay Area at Berkeley High School, Marin Academy, Cal State East Bay, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has recently been named a U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellow and will be traveling to Tohoku, Japan in 2018. José currently curates and produces the Live Arts in Resistance (LAIR) initiative at Eastside Arts Alliance, which provides residencies and performing opportunities for artists of color in East Oakland.

 Photo by Kim Anno and Kyung Lee

Photo by Kim Anno and Kyung Lee

Debby Kajiyama is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has been performing there since 1994. She has performed with Dandelion Dancetheater, June Watanabe in Company, ZACCHO Dance Theater,  the Dance Brigade, and Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble. Debby's interests lie in the intersection of performance, cultural studies, and social change. She is a member of TsukimiKai, an intergenerational group of primarily Japanese American artists, activists, and scholars. In 2005, she traveled with TsukimiKai to Cuba to share Obon Festival folk dances and music, and to conduct oral histories of the Japanese Diaspora in Cuba.  In 2009, she was the recipient of a  Djerassi Resident Artists Program residency and a Silicon Valley Community Foundation fellowship. In 2010, Debby is proud to have helped create the video “Fredi’s Fourth of July,” for Crosswater Media which tells the story of a Salvadoran immigrant family in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, she was the recipient of  an Alliance for California Traditional Arts Apprenticeship to study tsuzumi and taiko with Hiroyuki "Jimi" Nakagawa. She is the recipient of the 2014 The Della Davidson Prize.