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Shinichi Iova-Koga (inkBoat)

Active Dates

1980s – Present

Shinichi serves as the Artistic Director of the physical theater and dance company inkBoat, founded by Shinichi in 1998.  He has toured in North America, Europe, South Korea and Japan, often collaborating with local artists in museums, theaters, studios and site-specific locations.    Shinichi’s training began with Judo at age 8 with his father, Yuzo Koga, a 6-time USA Judo champion. In 1991, he entered Tadashi Suzuki’s method of training for Actors with Yukihiro Goto, experiencing the meeting of traditional and avant-garde Japanese performing arts. The same year, he studied Butoh first with Akeno Ashikawa and then with Hiroko Tamano, joining Harupin-Ha in 1993.   In 1996, he joined the German based Butoh company TEN PEN CHii with Yumiko Yoshioka. 

Shinichi founded inkBoat in 1998, a performance company that includes artists of many different artistic and cultural backgrounds. inkBoat and Shinichi have been honored by awards and grants, including 5 Bay Area “Izzie” awards and grants from NEA, MAP fund, New England Foundation for the Arts, Creative Work Fund, and Gerbode Foundation.   Shinichi co-choreographed a series of performances called Crazy Cloud with Ko Murobushi from 2008 to 2012. 

Another notable collaborator is Ann Carlson, who has worked with inkBoat from 2019 - present.   Since 2015, Shinichi’s career as an international performer has merged with his Daoist Internal Arts study. Qi Gong, Dao Yin, Yang Sheng Gong and Nei Gong are part of his daily practice. He is credentialed to teach through Lotus Nei Gong International and is a San Feng Pai lineage holder with Wudang West. Additionally, he has developed his approach to relationships between bodies through Aikido (with Jan Nevelius, Jorma Lily and Cornelius Jaeger-Herzog).   Ruth Zaporah is his continuing mentor. Her method of improvisational skill building is called Action Theater. Significant past mentors are Ralph Lemon, who opened up ideas about “anti-dance” and Anna Halprin, who encouraged community building through the art-making process.   Shinichi teaches annually at ImpulsTanz in Vienna and Dance on Land in California. He has served as a full time core faculty member of the MFA Dance program at Mills College in Oakland, California, from 2009 to 2017. He has taught Composition in the Arts for MFA students at UC Davis in 2014 and 2022. He currently runs independent workshops and online courses. 

He is  the editor of the book “95 Rituals,” a tribute to Anna Halprin, and a contributing writer to “The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance.” He is featured in the book “Butoh America.”

Additionally, he has co-created numerous performances with music groups Rova Saxophone Quartet and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.  As a guest Director, he has created stage works with AXIS Dance Company and ODC Dance Company.  As a dancer, he has been a member of the Russian Dance Theater company Do Theatre (2003-2005) and Larry Reed’s Shadowlight Theater (1993-1997).  

Shinichi’s work has been described as a mix of “humor, introspection, playfulness and memory with fearless gestures and thoughtfully crafted drama” (Mary Ellen Hunt, SF Chronicle) and has been said to “expertly mine the dark vein of absurdist humor that infiltrates Butoh” (Allen Ulrich, SF Chronicle).


  • San Francisco, United States



Relationship to other butoh artists