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Day 9: Practice Hard and Light

It was a special day today. First of all, it was sunny, and the sky was refreshingly blue with patches of cotton candy clouds. Secondly, something remarkable happend at the studio.

In the morning, Amy had two of her students, Amber and Sandra, come in along with Eddy the filmmaker in order to capture how she, as a teacher, would incorporate Hino sensei's work into her teaching and how that would affect the students. They went through a series of basic Hino Method exercises to improve First Position. Amy then would tell them specific points to focus on in forming the position. A lot of them were unfamiliar to the students, but they persevered. They also took photos of them doing First Position to see if any change was actually visible. Even after only a few hours of practice, the students were able to see and feel changes in their bodies.

Hino sensei and Kazuko sensei were mostly watching all that from a distance. Occasionally Hino sensei would give Amy advice as to how to instruct the students. He sometimes even held Eddy's second camera to capture their process. Hearing that both Amber and Sandra are at a transitional phase between being a student and being a professional dancer, he seemed compelled to show them something important. He asked both of them to touch his Kyokotsu while doing the Kyokotsu stretch exercise so that they could feel what it means to move a point in the body with control.

He then did the basic exercises himself to show how they should be done, with concentration and intensity to feel the body.

Sandra and Amber watched him closely as he made all the exiercises a process to do beautiful First Position. It was fluid and elegant.

"You have to keep reminding your students," Hino sensei told Amy, "that all these exercises are not just for certain forms, but for them to get to know their bodies better and deeper. It is a crucial process that can apply to everything else in life, not just in class."

Then Hino sensei looked at Amber and Sandra and said, "I'm 68 years old, and you are.. very, very young to me. If you start now doing this kind of work to improve your physical sensitivity, the growth you would have over the years would be tremendous. You will be great dancers. Don't worry about whether you are going to get a job as a professional dancer or not. A job doesn't make you a dancer. You make yourself a dancer. So, hold your head high and act like one." The eyes of the two aspiring dance students shone, and there were big smiles on their faces.

During the lunch break, Amy told Hino sensei that she had never experienced anything as effective as his work. It has changed not only her, who has been practicing his method for 10 years, but also her students whom she had taught. "There must be many dancers in Japan who come to your workshop and learn from you, right?" Amy asked Hino sensei. "Well, nowadays so-called ordinary people appreciate my work more than dancers in Japan. They hardly come to my workshop. Even if they do, it's usually a one-time thing for them. They never come back. I wonder why," Hino sensei said.

Amy was shocked to hear that and started to wonder why, too. The most plausible explaination she could think of was, "I think, because your work reaches a very deep level of a person and reveals so much about him/herself, it can feel 'threatening' to some dancers. A lot of them want to 'protect' themselves. So, I think it's about self-preservation. When they feel threatened, they run away." Eddy chimed in, "Yes, and also it might be very hard to understand the value of your work if a person doesn't know him/herself to a certain degree. They stay on a superficial level and just want to learn cool tricks and techniques."

In the afternoon, Kenzo and the three ladies from Okinawa came to the studio to observe. Amy and Hino sensei reviewed some of the stretch and twist once again. It was intense work, but there was a lot of laughter in the studio today.

Hino sensei started goofing around, imitating Kenzo's dance and eventually dancing with Kenzo.

It was a good day.

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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