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Day 7: What Is Beautiful?

Woke up around 8am and looked out the window of my apartment. There were towering clouds just above the high-rise buildings. The rising sun painted them dark orange with a tinge of pink. The work of nature caught me unawares and stopped time for a brief second. Then, it was gone.

How elusive yet unmistakable beauty is to us humans!

Yes, beauty was one of the things that were discussed at the studio today.

Hino sensei often speaks of "a sense of beauty" when working with performers. Develop and refine the standard for what is beautiful.

Hearing him say that, Amy commented, "For example, in classical ballet, we have forms that need to look 'beautiful.' There is a strong emphasis on the beauty of the form. So, contemporary dancers tend to avoid using the word 'beautiful' because to them that is associated with classical ballet. They are more concerned with the execution of ideas, not beauty." Then she went on to ask him, "I'm just curious to know, because I'm sure that you use the word beauty on a totally different level... What is beauty to you?"

Hino sensei's answer was simple. "When I can see the eruption of life. The outpouring of it. The sparkling of it. That's beauty."

Because it is directly connected to life, the standard for beauty is universal. He continued,

"I give you an example. A mother and a child. What happens between them is beautiful. Their relationship is real and alive. No one questions its beauty because it's universal.

So, in a way, what I've been telling you is to practice so that you can create that kind of relationship, alive and real on the level of life, on the stage for the audience.

Don't get caught up in the other types of beauty standards that are heavily influenced by the time period, culture, personal upbringing, habits, genres of art, etc.. They are relative and change all the time, and you don't want to measure your work against such things.

But the beauty I talk about has been in existence since the human history had begun, I mean, for billions of years. It's always been there and always the same. That is not to say that it is 'old.' On the contrary, because no one ever looks at it in performing arts, it is new, and will always be new, if you could actually generate it on the stage."

For the afternoon session, they worked on not only connecting but synchronizing. Synchronizing in Hino sensei's work points at that of consciousness, not so much about the physical movement. He often describes the feeling of synchronization as "riding on the flow of the other" and moving together.

One of the exercises to practice synchronizing is to have your partner swing his/her arm in place like a pendulum. You stand in front of him/her and softly catch the arm and walk together in the direction of the swing. If you are synchronized, your partner will move without any resistence. If not, you will be walking alone.

Kenzo and Amy tried several times. The biggest obstacle seemed to be the thought that disrupts "the flow."

"Stay with your partner. Get rid of the thought that has 'I do' in it. The moment you try to do something to the other, you are out of the flow," Hino sensei said.

As they started to get the hang of it, Hino sensei noticed Eddy, the documentary filmmaker who has been documenting the project. He looked very intrigued by the exercise behind the camera. So, Hino sensei said to him, "You try."

I held Eddy's camera while he tried. A few attempts, but nothing happened. Then Hino sensei stood behind Eddy and put his hands on Eddy's upper arms as if to hold and guide him. Then he tried it again, and this time he and his partner moved and walked together.

"Wow. That was so easy," Eddy exclaimed with a big smile.

"There's nothing mysterious in it, is there? You felt it, right?" Hino sensei was also smiling.

"Yes, it was amazing how little effort it took. What a learning experience," said Eddy.

"Wouldn't it be great if the performers could relate to one another like that on the stage?" Hino sensei asked.

"That would be fantastic." Eddy looked happy and excited.


After the session, Hino sensei, Kazuko sensei, and I went to the central station to meet up with three Japanese ladies. They are Hino sensei's students coming all the way from Okinawa to participate in his workshop this weekend. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the Dam square.

After that, we walked around the area, passing by the Red Light District. The three ladies had never been to Amsterdam, so everything they saw was a wonder: tilted buildings, restless canals, colorful candies, smoky coffee shops, voluptuous women under the neon light, cruising men, traces of urine on the cobble street, etc. etc.. I caught the night life of the city reflected on the eyes of the ladies.

It was beautiful.

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.

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