Saeko Ichinohe, Research Paper Example
Words: 2516Research Paper
Understanding the Dance Icon’s Mission, Vision and Philosophy on Japanese Dance and Culture
Dance is a form of human expression that has been largely appreciated through time. With dance comes the different forms of body language that is believed to have been used as a form of conversation among ancient human civilizations. In Asian countries like Japan, dance remains to be among the most crucial points of distinction that a nation has from the others. In this aspect, dance serves as a strong source of national identification. Saeko Ichinohe, one of the most notable dance schools in Japan, is one among the prestigious institutions in the country that desires to preserve the Japanese culture (Harris, 2011). Even beyond the existence of globalization and the current influence that the said movement has upon the culture of the nation and how the traditional and new culture is perceived by the new generation, this dance company tries to make traditional culture still the core of their response to development, progress and extensive changes in the society. Being a Japanese born girl, Ichinohe feels strongly connected to the Japanese dance hence utilizing it as the basis of her artistic presentations.
She studied dance in Japan and furthered her learning in the Julliard School; this is what made Saeko Ichinohe the great dance Icon that she has become at present. In her desire to become one of the best, Ms Ichinohe insisted on excellence as she tried to learn the different facets of dance and movements in relation to the traditional Japanese culture. Her studies in Julliard School provided her the chance to explore the Western dance culture more hence making her interested in mixing in both the Japanese dance motions with that of the Western movements. Likely, she wants to embrace the global essence of dance and create a unified diversity especially when it comes to expressing herself through dancing. Making a name in the industry was only a secondary desire for Ichinohe. It was her sincere belief that the Japanese traditional culture be preserved through time that made her stay in the industry and even innovate her process further. Relatively, it is through this approach that Ichinohe was able to instantiate a sense of personal development that even herself enjoys to learn further. Perfecting her moves in relation to the value of excellence that she follows so much is a desire that she puts much of her attention to. Another consideration that she views to be important regarding dance is that it should be entertaining. Aside from being cultural in nature, she believes that dance in a way is a form of conversing with the audience through an artistic form of movement that entices their attention and the manner by which they see the importance of dance in the Japanese society.
Referring to her company’s primary goals, Ms. Ichinohe tries to define her profession through the assumption of the three primary missions of her dance company, which are noted as follows:
- To incorporate rich, historical Japanese traditions into contemporary Western Dance
- To do this, she makes sure that the western and Japanese culture both receive balanced representation in each of her dance piece most likely mixing the modern with the traditional and classical forms of motions.
- To inspire mutual understanding between diverse peoples and cultures through dance
- Ichinohe strongly believes that constant research both on the traditional and modern dance forms help in enriching most of her performances. This way, a more diverse population of audience would be able to appreciate her art.
- To nourish the heart, mind and soul through superb dance programs which brings joy and wonder to audiences of all ages, cultures and backgrounds
- She makes it a point that her dances have a heart, they define humanity and create a visionary on how the entire work of art identifies with the realities that the human race currently experiences. This way, she is able to entice her audience to fully relate to the message of her dances.
These primary goals could be seen to be directed to the comprehensive process of defining movements and given meaning to how the people interpret the said motions. Considering the need to contemplate with the principles of the existing conditions of globalization, Ms. Ichinohe learned that it is by addressing the wants, desires and the interest of all people from all nations, all culture and all ages that the real value of a particular art is identified.
Ms. Ichinohe believes that dance conveys more than just the movement, it is the meaning of the message of each motion that could be counted vital for interpretation. As a choreographer who knows so much about the different aspects of dance and culture, Ichinohe views dance as a means of communication that conveys effective messages to the audience. More than words, dance responds to the emotions, the heart and the mind of the people (Charman, et al, 1990). She believes that with dance, people of all cultures and ages would be able to feel unified especially that it represents an engaging form of art that involves the condition by which motion becomes the common term that the said individuals recognize as the primary language of this form of communication. In line with this, she believes that dance itself could serve as a bridge that connects people from all countries to a single form of understanding.
As a teacher and choreographer, Ichinohe was noted for her desire to appreciate Japanese culture alongside the Western contemporary art. To her, being able to communicate through dance could be achieved through manifesting a sense of direction that a particular dance-piece is related to. Conveying a message to the audience is always a part of the dance presentations that Ichinohe puts together. As a Japanese descent, Ichinohe’s creation often goes one on one with nature. Practically, most of her pieces define the connection of humans with nature that is identified through interpretative music that puts together all the different forms of dances altogether in one particular presentation.
Among her most notable works is that of the Fire-eating bird which is a signature movement that she uses on her intense performances on stage. This particular motion defines the oneness of dance with the emergent elements of nature. This is how she basically intends to create a communication that conveys more than just a set of motion to the audience but instead creates a relative condition of emotional intensity that would put them in wonder and awe of the motion and the message itself. The body language that suggests the condition of presenting the message intends to create a connection that the audience would easily recognize especially in relation to the art that she hopes to establish. Influencing how the people think and react through her work is what makes her dance a source of inspiration to many others who want to make their own signature moves that would further characterize their name and existence in the industry.
Another of Ichinohe’s signature dancers include the wind whisperer [shown on the right] which is a movement that defines the movement of the wind through the gentle motions of the hands and feet as the dancer is lifted up on air. This particular movement is rather smoother than the fire eating bird and is used to interpret slower and milder types of musical accompaniment.
On the other hand, the dance of the bell tree, is another performance presentation choreographed by Ichinohe which defines the mildness of the bell tree and the enticing characteristic it has which is specifically defined through mellow movements [as shown in the picture below].
Relatively, most of Ichinohe’s works mimics the movements of several elements in nature which Japanese culture is mostly known for. Mixing these principles with the Western culture adds a more in depth definition of the said elements as the interpretations become fully recognizable in both regions of the world.
Like other Ichinohe, there are other artists in Japan who want their own name and their own recognizable contribution to the industry and the dance culture of Japan. In this case though, having the right talent is not enough, it is the motivation of the individual that proposes the right condition of thinking for the fulfillment of one’s desire to create an influential form of dance culture. Among the prominent names that emerged in the Japanese dance culture alongside Ichinohe are Kei Takei and the Eiko and Koma dance duo.
Identified as co-artistic directors and teachers of dance, Eiko and Koma are noted to be among the most prominent dance duos in Japan. Since the year 1972, both artists have been making their names in the industry together (Carter, 1998). Creating their own costumers for their personally directed and choreographed presentations, Eiko and Koma garnered the respect of the people in the industry due to their precise command over the movements and the music they use for the presentations that they serve their audiences with (Charman, et al, 1990). Although they say that they do not specifically follow the Butoh principle of dance, they both agree that Kazuo Ohno, who is a pioneer in the aspect of Butoh dance culture, is their primary inspiration in dancing and performing on stage (Cohen, 1990). Butoh is basically a form of dance that includes grotesque imagery that is formed by the body along with musical accompaniment (Cohen, 1990). With an inspiration from Kazuo Ohno, Japan’s most prized Butoh interpreter, both Eiko and Koma created their own forms of movements that served as their signature mark in the said dance process.
Unlike Ichinohe, Eiko and Koma follows a more liberated form of dancing which means that they are less limited when it comes to creating movements that would become a basic part of their primary performances. While Ichinohe is very precise about choosing the right motion from either the Japanese or the Western culture to be embedded within a certain performance, Eiko and Koma embrace the freedom of being the sole creators of their own dance pieces. The combination of both slow and nuanced movements in their dance pieces serve as the trademark of their work.
Another prominent dancer in Japan who is appreciated worldwide is Kei Takei. Kei Takei was noted for her established dance school known as the Moving Earth in 1969. She established the said company as she entered New York city and was given the chance to study in Julliard. For 30 years, Kei Takei is a prominent individual who strongly impose the utilization of dance as a form of unifying element in the society. For her, with music and movement and words unspoken, people would be able to understand each other through the heart.
Like Ichinohe, Takei believed in the merging of the different diversified culture of the east and the west in dance to create a more original piece that would serve as one’s mark in the industry. She also believed that with the application of dance in most of the established connection between human individuals, international unity could be garnered. This is the reason why she also follows the option of creating performance pieces that would convey both the eastern and western culture altogether. The art formed with such collaboration indicates a sense of connection between the elusive cultures of the two separate regions of the earth thus creating an understanding between the people living in them (Dils, 2001). Among Kei Takei’s signature movements include the “rice washer” where the hands of the dancer would seem to be handling a bowl of rice to be washed with impressions of the face that defines the work itself as shown in the image herein:
Another example of her works include the different series of light performances which presents the following movement:
Likely interpreting the elements of nature and the work forms that humans define themselves with during the ancient Japanese era, Kei Takei created moments that would specifically remind people of the kind of interpretation that the Japanese tradition would likely be known for.
Inspiration and experience are two among the most important concepts of dance that makes each movement speak a form of language that only the heart and the eyes could understand (Daly, 2001). This is the reason why Ichinohe makes it a point that she brings iconic individuals to dance practices every now and then. This way, she is able to instill a sense of inspiration on her students. Seeing a prominent person dance with much emotion and relation to the movements could motivate others to do the same. The communication that is perceived through dancing could affect others in several remarkable ways. Professional dancers are basically noted for their capability to convey positive messages effectively through dancing (Miller, 1986). It is through this that it is expected that her students would also learn how to express themselves through dance thereby creating their own form of language, which would allow them to connect with their audiences.
For instance, seeing a professional dancer present a dance piece that has been originally made by him or her creates a sense of motivation and inspiration on the students to have their own pieces of motions and movements created and presented on stage. The effectiveness of the communication that the professional dancers imply on the students create positive source of motivation that empowers them to move as detailed and as precise as possible so as to send their message to their target audiences.
Dance as an art could be a complex form of creation. It involves precise movements related to a particular set of sounds that are utilized to accompany the said motions that were put together. Creating a dance presentation has been indicated herein to be realized by choreographers and directors as a process of communicating with the audience that they hope to present their works to. Ichinohe, an expert in the said aspect of art imposes on the capacity of dance to become a sense of communication between people of all nations and ages. Understanding dance as a unifying tool among human individuals across the world is what makes iconic artists like Ichinohe, Take and the Eiko and Komo duo a source of motivational inspiration for many other emerging dancers in the society. Japan being one of the most traditional and culture defined nations of the world specifically present a pantheon of champions in the said field. These champions, including Ichinohe, practically believe that dance changes through time hence the presentations that are directed to showcase this art ought to adjust as well.
Rachel Lee Harris (2011-04-25). “Out of Doors Lineup”. New York Times.
Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company. Saeko Ichinohe, Founder, Director, Choreographer, Dancer. http://www.ichinohedance.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=53. (Retrieved on November 14, 2012).
Carter, A. (1998) The Routledge Dance Studies Reader. Routledge.
Charman, S. Kraus, R, G. Chapman, S. and Dixon-Stowall, B. (1990) History of the Dance in Art and Education. Pearson Education.
Cohen, S, J. (1992) Dance As a Theatre Art: Source Readings in Dance History from 1581 to the Present. Princeton Book Co.
Daly, A. (2002) Critical Gestures: Writings on Dance and Culture. Wesleyan University Press.
Dils, A. (2001) Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader. Wesleyan University Press.
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