Ioannis Mandafounis (Dancer)

 

 I first met Akira Hino in Frankfurt when I was a member of the Forsythe Company in 2005. *The meeting was striking and impressive, My perception and my knowledge was shaken from a very deep point of view and since then Hino's practice and philosophy is part of my quotidian life.

 Akira Hino is one of my biggest inspirations for dance and conscious living. I did not expect such a drastic change at first, but very fast I understood that Akira's world was going to be precious for me and my
colleagues as well. I had in mind like every European I guess, that martial art was a formal way of learning how to defend myself. I had in mind that it was a technique after all and that with a good practice I would understand how to be or act in a given situation. I also had in mind that miracles cannot happen, and that Japan is so far from me and my culture that I would probably never understand it anyways.

 What came out of the years I know Akira Hino and the practice I did with him in Europe and in Japan was a totally new life. Akira's Budo came out to be the deepest inspiration for my own practice and my life. It is a life
learning process that demands to be committed to. It is a way of being and not a way of doing. I believe that this says everything. It is not easy to describe with words what Budo is, I still don't know today. But I can tell you how it feels like to practice with Hino or to practice Hino's Budo today.

 In my second phase of working with Akira, I came to Japan 5 years ago to work intensively on Budo. I just had left the Forsythe Company and was looking for a new way in my life and my work. From this period on I can say that everything changed in my life. Budo felt like the right thing to do, the correct for me way to progress
and be inspired. I felt like a true sensitive person for the first time of my life able communicate with an idea and the people around me by just the way of movement and the exercises. It is funny to say this being a dancer since this is what dance should be.
 I discovered that I was in a deep illusion and that the way I way dancing had nothing deep in it. I had to learn it all from the beginning. To become a baby, how to walk, look, feel, act, react, etc...
Akira's Budo feels like being open for everything in life. It makes you live in the present and not in your  projections.
 It is waking you up from your illusions.

 Today being a choreographer and performing my work as well as teaching ballet and improvisation I can say that every one of those actions are directly inspired by Akira's Budo. My relation to stage, movement,
teaching, ideas for creations, ways of working are my way of practicing Akiras Budo. I have committed to it and it leads me.
 The funny thing is that I am not even pushing it, but every time I find myself discovering something I feel the Budo way and energy behind it. And it is very clear. Practice is everything and it should be in every level of
our lives. The way of progressing demands it. But it feels that if I was not doing it I would feel time pass of course but not feel the quality of my being within this time, my existence, my path.

 Akira told me onece that at the base everything is the same.  In everything we do is a deep reality that is similar for all living beings and beyond.

 Today I can say that for my actual practice I always go back to those words. In moments of fear or of hesitation those words and Akira's patience into practice show me the way. I know that my text sound like I found my guru, but in reality it has nothing to do with it. To not be afraid to open up and speak what we have in our heart is something that does not happen easily anymore. Well I guess this is one more thing I learned and practiced with him.

 After my stay in Japan I was seriously thinking to stay and find a way to live in Japan in order to practice Budo.
Akira sent me back to Europe without hesitation. I understood that Budo has to become my path and if I would stay in Japan at the level I was back then maybe I would stay in a comfortable position not making so much
progress. This great time in Japan but also the fact that I could not stay gave me even more the understanding that Budo needs autodidact practitioners, and to me autodidacts are people that know how to
work deeply. I guess That is what Akira himself understood very early and found his way that today inspire so many other people.

 

 In my art, my teachings and my life Budo is a permanent drive today.