What does it sound to you? -Japanese project-

Choreography Workshop

Over the quarantine, I have started teaching Japanese online. And it was so interesting that while I am teaching the language, I relearned how to speak my mother tongue and realized the significance of the language. This experience inspired me to corporate my mother tongue and dance.

So I have a concept in my mind that “what if the dancers heard their own story in a foreign language, what movement comes out?.” It was on Friday, after the Choreography Workshop, walking the aisle with John Cartwright, Ishmael Konney, and Quianna Simpson. I asked them if they were interested in working with my concept. Fortunately, they said YES! So we started meeting on Thursday afternoon to rehearse.

At first, I asked all of them to write a paragraph of their self-introduction. I translated the texts into Japanese and recorded them. Dancers danced with their own biography, which they could guess what I was talking about, yet it was hard for them to fully understand. Quianna shared that she recognized some words such as”African dance” but she was influenced mostly by the rhythm of speaking. Also, John mentioned that it was dancing in between familiar from and unfamiliar. Next step, I asked them to dance with other’s bio which they have no clue what I was talking about. Ishmael shared that he was inspired by the speed of my speaking and almost echoing with his body. Dancers were definitely hard to react to speaking voice with unknown topics since no connection nor inspiration to their movement. What they react was the sound, rhythm, tone, speed I made. It was a great discovery to me since I was seeking an authentic reaction from dancers to the foreign language.

So we ended up using their biography with my speaking to generate the basic phrase. In the first version of this project, I was a narrator and started speaking Quianna’s story, then John’s and Ishmael’s at the end. The person who was spoken one’s bio leads the movement and others echoing. It was a clear structure of displaying how dancers embody the sound of Japanese.

Although, we received feedback about I and dancers’ relationship as well as an objective of this project. We discussed one more time to clarified the intention of this project and landed on offering a foreign experience to the audience but also showing the visceral level of communication. Also, we decided to not separating me from their narrative. I added on my story to move together as well as bringing back idea, authentic reaction; dancers react to what I spoke without knowing the content. We revised the movements, and space usage as well.

Over this process, we re-defined the fundamental of communication by using verbal and non-verbal tools able to understand, interact, respond to each other. Once Quianna shared that we seemed like creating harmony by bodies, which was a beautiful way to describe our creative journey and indeed it was a deep and interesting process. I would like to continue experimenting to combine my mother tongue in my work.

What is my significance in dance?

Research Project

In Dance Film 1, Professor Mitchell Rose said “there is nothing new in this world.” I was shocked! But it is so true that something human has been expressing either by films or music or dance is the same theme over and over again. We as humans are facing the same theme of life, but experience it in our own way. Also, he said, “but there is only you in this world” which means I can have the original viewpoint which no one can have. This encourages me to find uniqueness within me instead of looking outside and comparing what I am lacking. Since the beginning of this semester, I have been thinking about what I can bring to the dance community at Ohio State University. So, my interest is I would like to comprehend my artistry deeper and it is evolved into my first research topic, understanding self-identity.

I am hoping to learn self-identity by investigating Japanese heritage and the life experiences that I earned through the travels. First, I would like to reveal the relationship between dance and Japanese culture by seeking the answers to so many questions that I have not solved yet. Such as how Japanese people embody their culture through dancing, what movement is defined as “Japanese-ness,” and what makes me push to study contemporary dance abroad. Also, I am very curious about foreign experiences in the body, locations, relationships, and lifespan and what makes people decide to stay or leave from there. Foreign experience is always part of me where I go and I have been wanting to unpack my emotion and thoughts through migration from Japan to the U.S. And I am focusing on Issei, who born in Japan and immigrated to different countries, performing artists specifically. It is because one, I might be a possibility to become one of them, but two, it would be great to bring objectivity in my research. I would like to investigate the artists’ hybridity of cultural identity as in how they have been creating their “home” at the new place, people, culture while keeping their roots, customs, and tradition at the same time.

The second is the nature of communication. I have noticed that word selection is very sensitive especially in an academic setting. Verbalizing is a huge influence on creating meaning, culture, mannerism. Even though dance is called non-verbal communication, it has different movement vocabularies in different dance genres. Over the quarantine, I started tutoring Japanese to kids to the graduate students. And I have noticed the similarities between teaching language and teaching dance. In dance class, everyone brings a different language through their bodies. It is like everybody speaks a different language. So, I am interested in how I as a teacher can strip off the specificity of terminology and able to communicate on a visceral level. My goal is generating a way to hybrid the cultures brought by everyone in the classroom and to create one dance language to speak as a whole class. In order to reach this goal, I would like to synchronize my study in Japanese (as language) and dance pedagogy. By establishing the common dance language will help to unite the people beyond the borders in the future education setting.

I am still on the stage of brainstorming yet, getting clear each day. I am very excited to work on my research project! Please let me know if you know about the resources related to the research topics on comment below. I appreciated any comments, suggestions, and ideas:) Thank you!