Passion for learning and professionalism
March 2nd, 2022
It was a clear, sunny day in The Hague.
The day started off with a Q&A session. Quite a few questions were asked regarding Hino-sensei’s life, study and philosophy. Everyone was curious about how Hino has become the Budo master as he is today. What inspires and motivates him to study Budo in the first place? And how did he learn all that he knows now? The dancers seemed to be putting the pieces of his various anecdotes together in order to form a more comprehensive picture of who he is.
One thing Hino sensei kept emphasizing in his stories was the importance of thinking for himself and on his own to deal with a particular situation or challenge. “I hated going to school when I was a child,” he said. He didn’t like to be given instructions as to what to do, study or think by the teachers in school. So, whenever he wanted to do something, he taught himself how to do it. “But don’t get me wrong, I love learning. I learn by watching and observing other people,” he said. Then he gave an example of learning gymnastics in middle school by studying the photographs of gymnasts in action. Nobody taught him how to do certain techniques of gymnastics. He studied the photographs carefully and tried many ways on his own until he succeeded. The trial and error approach has been playing a big part in his life-long learning process.
“But, I’m not looking for the right answers in doing so,” he told the dancers. “I am just focusing on being able to do a certain task or technique. That is different from trying to be right.” Then he went on and told them that many people nowadays were too fixated on getting the right answers quick. They ask other people, “How can I do that? What’s the correct way?” as if getting the answers from outside is the goal. As if the answers given by others would solve all their problems. They hardly pay attention to the processes to get to those “answers.”
“So, I say to you, ‘Don’t look for the right answers’ because they don’t mean a thing,” Hino-sensei said in regard to the Hino Method exercises. The more important is to become aware of how you feel, think and learn in the process.
Then one dancer asked him about professionalism. “You have told us that we were professional and had to be so. In your opinion, what does it mean to be professional?” Hino sensei’s answer was quite simple, “To be able to do certain tasks well no matter what the circumstances.” Then the dancer had a follow-up question, “As a professional dancer, I sometimes feel quite nervous, let’s say before the premiere. It’s difficult not to feel nervous in a situation like that. How can I deal with this kind of emotional upset?” Hino-sensei replied immediately, “That’s because you are not focusing on your job. You are only focusing on yourself, whether you’ll fail or not.” Then he pointed at everyone in the room and said, “You are professional dancers at NDT. Your job is to give all you have to what you do on the stage. You must have passion for your profession. The audience comes to see your passion. Passion transforms the performance.” Everyone in the room nodded earnestly. Then he quickly added, “Please don’t ask, ‘How can I have passion?’” Everyone burst out laughing.
After the Q&A session, the dancers worked on a series of Twisting exercises involving the knee, the pelvis, the shoulders, and the elbows. Today they were asked to give each other feedback as they were doing the exercises. The purpose of the feedback is to practice constructive two-way communication. The one who is doing the exercise needs to be aware of his/her own process, and the observer needs to evaluate the other’s performance carefully and give some remarks for improvement. The receiver of the feedback compares it with his/her own experience to see if there’s anything different or new. It is not about taking other people’s opinions and advice blindly, it is about having the other people’s feedback as a tool to get out of one’s own head, to expand one’s own thinking.
As they experimented with different ways and sensations, Hino sensei introduced an exercise to improve the sensitivity of a specific part of the body, namely the knees, in Twisting. He also showed how the exercise can be applied to the ballet fifth position as an example of flexible thinking or thinking outside the box. The dancers tend to learn this position as a form. But, “This (the fifth position) is the result of a certain bodily mechanism at work. It has to be this way because the knees are being twisted in a specific way and so and so forth,” he told the dancers. It is not a static thing. It’s dynamic. The dancers were amazed how different it felt to do the familiar ballet position with new awareness.
After the lunch break, they were introduced to Rendo (interconnected movement) exercises. Starting with the basic vertical Rendo exercise, they gradually moved onto a pair version of it to examine and feel the effect of Rendo. When the body is connected, it generates a tremendous amount of power without relying too much on muscle strength. Rendo allows the flow of force to increase and transfer to the other efficiently. The dancers were delighted about how easy, light, and clear it felt in their bodies when it was done well. They kept on practicing and practicing for the rest of the day, throwing each other to the ground through Rendo.
What a passionate learning process :)