Today was a little different. Amy spent the morning session on practicing on her own at the studio, and Hino sensei and Kazuko sensei joined her in the afternoon.
I had a chance to talk with Amy for a while in the morning. One of the things that stuck to me from our conversation was when she said, "It's just that I feel a tremendous gap between Hino's level of perception and mastery and my level of perception and understanding. Watching Hino work, I become aware of how ignorant and stupid I am. It's painful." She had a very somber look on her face, staring at an empty space. After we agreed on how overwhelming it could be to work with someone that you know is far greater than you are, Amy stood up and went into the corner to do the Kyokotsu exercise. I also started to move, while pondering over the words "pain of ignorace." Both of us were silence for an hour.
Then Hino sensei and Kazuko sensei came. Amy asked them a few questions about teaching and being a teacher within an institution. She told them about a job offer she was considering. It's the director at a dance school. If she gets the job, she will have a longer period of time to educate students. "But if I try to implement a totally different method like Hino's to the dance school, there might be some people, both students and colleagues, who react in a negative way. As the director, I would have to meet certain expectations of the higher-up people as well as those of the students. " Amy wasn't sure how she could change the institution from within.
Hino sensei's advice to that was simple and practical. First, you need to make a clear textbook to show them what you teach. Whether your students like it or not is a result you have no control over. What you have is what you teach. Focus on that, instead of what other people might think of it. Secondly, encourage other teachers to teach the same thing. Have them on your side. Don't see them as obstacles. Spread the change little by little over a long period of time instead of trying to do it all at once by yourself. It takes time, at least 5 years to create the right conditions for transformation on the institutional level.
Then Amy told about her perpetual self-doubt in incorporating Hino Method into her teaching because she felt that her skill level was far less than Hino's. "How can I teach something that I don't know so well?"
Kazuko sensei had been listening quietly to all this and finally said to Amy, "In Japan, many master teachers have teachers. They always have someone who is greater than themselves, someone they always learn from and will never be able to surpass until they die. That's how they keep growing as artists.. by being aware of an unfillable gap between them and their teachers. There is no end point in learning that way. It is totally ok for you to be less skilled than Hino. Because of that very fact, you know the struggle and pain of feeling inadequate and uncertain, which many of your students will also go through. So, you can empathize with them in a way no one else can. You can be the role model and inspiration. That is a great gift to the students already."
Amy was speechless for a while. Kazuko sensei's words seemed to have touched her deeply.
As if to give her one more assurance, Kazuko sensei showed Amy a quote on her smartphone, smiling, "To teach is to talk of hope. To give a lesson is to ignite the fire in the hearts of students."
Hino sensei and Amy worked on facing and connecting for the last hour. Facing in Hino Method usually starts with just 2 people standing face-to-face. Deceivingly simple stuff, but this is the most fundamental and basic work for all the other relationship exercises. It's not about staring at each other's eyes. It is to feel, see, and embrace another human being without any assumption about who you are or who the other is and to make a connection.
Amy and Hino sensei tried different distances in between them to face each other. The intensity of connection needs to remain the same. The farther apart you are from the other, the more challenging.
They also worked briefly on moving together with palms touching. It is an excellent practice to feel the other person and also to become more receptive and open to the unknown (the partner's movement). It is an intensive dialogue that creates a relationship, which is not predetermined and exciting.
After the session, both Amy and Hino sensei made notes to clarify what they have worked on thus far. A lot of things have been discussed and practiced. It's been quite a lesson.
Disclaimer: Budo Ballet Initiative is not associated with Real Contact Project. What you read in this blog are the personal thoughts and observations made by Yuko Takeda. They are not meant to officially document or represent the Budo Ballet Initiative project. For those who are interested in knowing the entirety of the project, please contact Amy Raymond.