Photo by Robbie Sweeny

Photo by Robbie Sweeny

RACE: Stories from the Tenderloin

RACE pits communitarian values and marginalized voices (in the form of the stirring stories and personalities of its cast) against the steroidal economic and governmental machinations that serve to sort out winners and losers under the rubrics of development and gentrification.
— Robert Avila

Photo by Steven Sanchez

The Anastasio Project

Intent on public dialogue, Kajiyama and Navarrete have sidestepped the traditional stage for the streets. In their push to perform along the complex environment of International Boulevard in East Oakland, the team hopes not only to reflect issues already familiar to the community, but to reinvigorate conversation in a place where exclusive models of contemporary performance run the risk of leaving residents cold.
— Marcos Villalobos

NAKA Dance Theater Investigates Violence and State Brutality on the Streets of Oakland
by Marco Villalobos, KQED Arts Blog, September 2014

A Roving Elegy  by Marvin K. White, In Dance, September 2014

Violence Without Borders by Zaineb Mohammed, East Bay Express, August 2014


Photo by David Teter


or Can you Picture this Prophecy? The temperatures are too hot for me.

An interview with STANCE Editor Jan Trumbauer, April 2014

"Diving with SCUBA in its Four-City National Tour" by Jonathan Stein, March 18, 2014

ATLACUALO: The Ceasing of Water

Photo by Ross Pearson

Atlacualo is divided into distinct episodes, with [Violeta] Luna taking the lead in evoking a holistic perspective of nature with slow-paced but tightly controlled images of birthing and growth through sacred practices. Navarrete is a motor-mouthed huckster of “agua mágica” – the product of multinational greed. He also beautifully segues into a transformation from an oil-slicked subhuman into a dying fish who dreams of clean water.
— Rita Felciano, Bay Guardian, April 2010

Milonga Sentimental

Photo by Daisuke Miyake

Outside the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, a lively crowd milled as Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theatre’s Jose Navarrete and Debby Kajiyama, powdered ghostly white, traipsed through a macabre “Milonga Sentimental.” Making great use of the theater’s lawn, awnings, and most memorably the chasm between two benches, the pair made tango and butoh look like the most natural mash-up in the world. They swiveled through ochos, they declaimed Jeanette Winterson poetry, they had Setsuko Nakamura play a tiny toy piano balanced on Kajiyama’s head. It was all eerily delightful.
— Rachel Howard, In Dance, November 2007

Photo by Michael Osborn

The Revenge of Huitlacoche

The Revenge of Huitlacoche is a smartly conceived and emotionally affecting work of thought-provoking dance that showed Navarrete as a skilled and agile dancer/choreographer.
— Rita Felciano, Dance View Times, April 2007
[Huitlacoche] managed to straddle the line between heavy-handedness, skillful scripting, and camp, almost perfectly well...Navarrete’s pieces were moving, political, and real.
— Michael Wade Simpson, In Dance, July/August 2006
…thoughtful, imaginative…exhilarating entertainment... Navarrete is a powerful…mover, yet he inflects every gesture with emotional accents that banish any hint of bleak abstraction... What succeeded…was the tension between political sermonizing and theatrical imperatives, neither one swamping the other.
— Allan Ulrich, Voice of Dance, April 13, 2007

Photo © RJ Muna 2011


Just as Astor Piazzola, whose music they often use, pushed tango’s resonance into other realms, Navarrete and Kajiyama dig into the tension between constraint and freedom. They stretch the duo form and dip into the cauldron of tango’s underbelly. What they have come up with is a series of pungent little essays—some of them light, some of them dark, all of them crisply designed and excellently performed.
— Rita Felciano, Dance Magazine, January 2006

Photo by John Spicer

Ghost Memories

Extrañas figuras por Maritza Gueler, Danza en Español, August 2003

Ambos coreógrafos establecen una atractiva e interesante dupla en el escenario, el nivel de comprensión y de comunicación que existe entre ambos es poco frecuente y la energía que despliegan ejerce un inusual atractivo. ...pieza de gran belleza...una verdadera joya de la compañía.
— Maritza Gueler


In the sharpest dancing of the whole program, Jose Navarrete & Debby Kajiyama danced two deliciously intense tangos. The first, a more traditional piece to the music of Juan D’arienzo, and the second an evolutionary cultural hybrid of tango and contemporary performance to the music of Kodo. The electricity between these dancers was palpably hot and sexual stereotypes wilted in their heat.
— Keith Hennessy,, June 2002