Check out this great preview from the upcoming Sunday New York Times about Yasuko Yokoshi’s Tyler Tyler.
“Where language would have been, we had to use the work as the medium for communication… And in there was a space or opportunity to discover how we were both approaching our shared work. ” -Steven Reker
Listen to a preview of the music in Tyler Tyler here.
Posted in Uncategorized | February 5, 2010 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment
From Kayvon Pourazar: This was such a short trip, but I don’t know if it could be possible to be immersed into such a deep aspect of Japanese culture as a visitor in such a short amount of time any more than we did. I never imagined that the work that I do as a dancer could bring about the opportunity for such vast doors to be opened. It is a huge privilege to have experienced this trip to Japan.
From Julie Alexander: Studying with Masumi Sensei was incredible. The Nezu school where we trained the first day is so quiet, clean and beautiful and there is such a tone of reverence in that space that Masumi Sensei governs with quiet authority. We gave her our gifts. We were so careful to enter the room on our knees, respectfully, and to offer our gifts to her. She seemed very excited to have us there. The training was intense. We each worked with her one on one while the other watched. She was so conscious of our bodies, being sure we were okay sitting on our knees the whole time. She was so detailed when she was training us, but quite different than our experience with Kayo Sensei in Florida. With Kayo Sensei, we focused on the form and technique and we were able to communicate the visual information through our bodies. Masumi Sensei also focused on form, of course, but we definitely relied on Yasuko to translate for us as well, because Masumi Sensei really wanted us to understand the stories, history and tradition in these dances. During rehearsal, she brought out traditional incense smelling set so we could see the objects and the tradition that are referenced in one of the dances that Kayvon does. She took such care in wrapping and unwrapping the objects and explaining exactly how they are used – not just functionally, but there is an art and a physical form involved in the delicate act.
This attention to detail that we’ve been honing in on in studying this traditional Japanese dance form is so much a part of Japanese culture from what I experienced first-hand in Tokyo – from the architecture and the food to the paper-wrapped chopsticks and the efficient subway chart (which I was particularly impressed by).
Through the studio showings, we learned that it is customary in Japan for audience or friends to bring food for the performers. We were showered with food… pastries and rice crackers and lotus root and this delicious potato with a wonderful texture. And we learned the usefulness of the phrase- “otsukaresama.” It’s hard to translate in English. But from what I understand, means something like “good job” or “you must be tired” or any time there is some sort of effort involved or even answering the telephone.
“The re-imagining and translating of traditional Japanese songs through my experience as an American songwriter has produced a type of music that I think I have not heard before. In collaboration with the Japanese cast we found that it is not our instinct to appropriate, but rather exchange styles and concepts to make something that is unique to our identity yet refers to a different culture. The process of us learning while creating left room for spontaneity and play and invited our personalities to the work, which is something I think Yasuko is nurturing step by step. At first I was not sure how I could justly represent myself as an ‘American’ songwriter since that role felt too huge—boisterous even—but as time passes in this process, I feel that I inherently represent something uniquely American – and I am reminded about what I value in that, while embracing something foreign.”
We had a rehearsal with costumes last month since Kimono is an integral part of the classical dance. Usually, classical Japanese dance performers hire a professional costume fitter. This project can not afford such a service, so Kuniya had to learn how to tie Obi for Kayo Sensei’s kimono. Masumi Sensei taught Kuniya how to do it and he learned it in one day. Wearing Obi is one of the hardest parts of wearing Kimono properly.