As a third culture kid, assimilation was crucial to Yayoi Kambara’s survival. The instinct to fit in kept her quiet for many years - perhaps she started dancing to talk less.
During college, a conversation made Kambara evaluate whether she would want to be the token Asian dancer or dance with a predominantly Asian company. The reality of this was reflected in her career, where she first worked Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians and STEAMROLLER Dance Company later moving to ODC/Dance. Kambara began choreographing in 2015 centering a Japanese American/POC audience creating dance experiences that cultivate a sense of belonging.
Last year, she led a Community Engagement Residency for the Bridge Project, Aesthetic Shift, an exchange between dance educators, social justice activists, and choreographers to interrogate the overlap between equity values, creative practices, and organization. Kambara was in the 4th Cohort of APAP (Association of Performing Arts Professionals) Leadership Fellows Program and is a member of the collective Dancing Around Race with Gerald Casel, David Herrera, Bhumi Patel, and Raissa Simpson .
Her current project IKKAI means once: a transplanted pilgrimage is commissioned by the Japanese American Citizens League of San Jose and awarded a Hewlett50 award from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She is currently exploring ideas for IKKAI XR - an interactive Virtual Reality performance.