Image: Yass Hakoshima and Renate Boué

Yass Hakoshima, known for his artistry as a mime and the founder and artistic director of Yass Hakoshima Movement Theatre, died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 31, 2022. We here at State of the Arts were astonished to learn that he was 93, having been born in 1928. Yass performed well into his 80s, including his New Jersey farewell performance at Bloomfield College in 2011. State of the Arts was there to record Yass’s remarkable performance: physically demanding, yet always lyrical, and to hear his reflections on his 50-year career.

That was the last time that Yass appeared on State of the Arts. Soon afterwards he and his wife, the modern dancer Renate Boué, moved to Santa Fe, where he continued to teach mime at the Institute of American Indian Art. The very first time Yass appeared on State of the Arts was in 1983. The series was in its infancy then, a side project started by news reporter Liz Matt. As was his style, Yass took the production up a notch, pushing to see what could be done at the New Jersey Public Television studios. He choreographed and performed a piece depicting the types of people you might run into while spending a day in the city, filling the empty studio as an artist might fill a canvas. Afterwards, Yass spoke to Liz about his background as a dancer, and the influence of Kabuki theater on his art.

For decades, Yass traveled the world to give performances, usually accompanied by Renate and, when they were young, his children Anja and Maho. He was a businessman and a visionary, skilled in woodworking and calligraphy as well as movement. Everywhere he went, he saw new possibilities and opportunities. Yass collaborated with artists including the ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu, musicians including the Da Capo Chamber Players, and with the producers at State of the Arts. It was his vision to create Dream Journey, a special program produced in 1995 that merged the art of mime with the medium of video.

Yass Hakoshima (1928-2022) and Renate Boué (1930-2019) were part of a generation who saw great changes not only in the world, but in art. Both were trained in traditional dance, yet they were drawn to the modern, helping to create new forms that we now often take for granted. They gave it their all, becoming a vital part of the culture and world they lived in. State of the Arts remembers Yass and Renate with gratitude, and we say to them both: thank you, for making the world a richer place.