In the beginning of the semester, I had many questions related to “home” such as what defined “home”? Is it the location like where I grew up? Or the people such as the dance community at Ohio State University? Or the memories in my brain? etc..
Wherever I go, I can make some place for myself to be comfortable. But this comfortableness is not necessarily defined as belongingness. In my definition of belongingness is inherent desire to be accepted by the community by behaving what they expect to. I always have hard time finding a place to land myself. In the Japanese community, I am an outsider. People my age graduated from college, have jobs, live nearby their parents, mostly staying inside their country for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, I live in the U.S. which far away from all of my family, and still a student. I clearly not on the same pathway as others. In the U.S., I am a minority due to my race and skin color. I have a neutral opinion about politic, or economy which seems like unusual in this country.
So I started looking for uncomfortableness from lacking belongingness in the physical body. I had the privilege to work with a talented dancer, Aya Venet. She is a sophomore at Ohio State University, also from Japan. She was born between the father who is African American and the mother who is Japanese.
We started to brainstorm what makes us hard to find the belongingness. We met once a week at the studio and built the narrative of the piece. She shared the story that in between of two location, Japan and the U.S., she is uncomfortable to be “her” due to the different expectations. Started with improvisation with the question, “if you are very uncomfortable, how do you move?”The movement was developed to embody her internal struggle.
I had her move inside the circle, which stands for a borderline from the place she is at. What I wanted to emphasize on the circle was that it was not her choice to be inside of it. The line was drawn by an unseen force, to categorize her as an outsider. The white line was inspired by field chalk at the elementary school playground. It is drawn clearly to stands out the separation, but the more you step on it, the more the line gets blurry. This applied to her circle, the more she steps on the line, the more she has access to the outside and merge to the inside. The line will dissolve and disappear. That is my goal in this piece. Showing her strength and able to erase the lines and step out the circle.
I planned to stage this piece as a film because I want to show the external factor, which affect her to struggle internally. I initially wanted to ask volunteers to walk around Aya, although due to the COVID-19, it was not a good time to ask this favor around. So I decided to overlay the video clips my friend took for me a year ago. They were taken at Shibuya crossing and Shibuya station which is well-known place for thousands of people passing every day. The clips was a symbol of the place where always required to catch up with the speed, and match with the expectation.
We searched the location and decided to shoot at The Oval. The red brick contrasted well with the white lines and I loved the background. To me, the two roads behind her were the two countries Aya grew up and came from to be who she is now. I did one take for drawing the circle as well as the ending part. Which made me worry that if I could take a good shot, but I trusted Aya and she performed beautifully. I hope everyone enjoys this short film. I would like to hear what you see and what you feel, and please share your thoughts on comment below!:)