Currently I'm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I'm here as a translator/interpreter for my teacher Akira Hino and his wife Kazuko Hino (his personal assistant). They are working with with Amy Raymond, dance teacher and researcher based in Amsterdam. The project is called "Budo Ballet Initiative" where Amy and Hino sensei work together in order to integrate the essence of Japanese classic martial arts, or Hino Budo to be precise, into the system of classical ballet. ("Budo" means martial arts in Japanese.)
The project is not associated with Real Contact Project, but I think both projects have a lot in common; both are about performing and attempts to incorporate what Hino sensei teaches in performing. As a translator, I've been fortunate to observe closely Amy and Hino sensei's collaboratve work and how it's been evolving since last year.
In October 2015, for the first part of the project, Hino sensei and Amy had spent 2 weeks together to look into the basic technique of classical ballet with the perspective of Hino Budo. It ended up challenging and questioning some of the fundamental assumptions for classical ballet education and ultmately improving the quality of its technique drastically. At the end of the part I phase, they held a 2-day workshop for dancers to show and test the result of their work. It was a lively, marvelous workshop; every participant had at least one eye-opening moment of improvement and change in his/her body.
This time, Febuary 2016, is the part II. The structure will be the same: 2 weeks of one-on-one work between Hino sensei and Amy and a 2-day workshop at the end.
Today was Day 1 of the part II.
When I arrived at the studio around noon, Amy, Hino sensei, and Kazuko sensei were already working. Amy was reviewing what she had done in October 2015 by herself. Hino sensei was watching her intently. Kazuko sensei was watching the two with quiet intensity, taking some photos occasionally.
I hurriedly changed my clothes and joined. The studio was spacious and had big mirrors and red walls. It felt almost too big for just the four of us.
The main point of the day seemed to be "the stretch." Amy would show Hino sensei some basic arm positions and movements of arms (Port de Bras), and he would give her a few pieces of advice in regards to where to initiate the movement and how to control the joints such as elbows and shoulders. She would then try different ways of doing it in response to his feedback. Hino sensei kept reminding Amy where she should feel stretch in her body when moving her arms. The more stretch she can generate, the more dynamic her movement becomes.
Stretching in Hino sensei's work is not just about getting more flexible but more about getting to know the body deeply and connecting parts of it for the whole body movement. It often involves very deliberate, streneous work to do so. But the result is undeniable; the body becomes more alive and stronger.
After the session, Amy took me to a place where I would be staying for the next few weeks. "Sky Rooms" is the name. On the 7th floor, a small, simple room overlooing the city. Today was a very windy day, and clouds were rushing through the sky. I think I will have a nice time here.
Disclaimer: 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.