DANCE DANCE ASIA – Hanoi, Vietnam (2015/03)
Memorable Moment / The Hanoi tour reminded us of the fundamentals of dance: Set yourself free, and enjoy it!
The Hanoi tour was Memorable Moment’s first time performing overseas. We spoke with the leader KAORIalive about her experiences in Hanoi, where the group put on a show that enthralled the audience, and conducted a lively workshop.
What was it like participating in the tour?
KAORIalive : I experienced the warmth and kindness of the Vietnamese people, and got a wonderful impression of the country. At the workshop, I was overjoyed to see the expressions on the faces of kids who were not just following the choreography but were going all out and dancing the way they felt, and even if they couldn’t get the moves just right, were setting themselves free and enjoying it. It reminded me of how I felt when I first started dancing!
And how was the workshop?
KAORIalive : To me, a workshop is something special, different from an ordinary dance lesson. At a lesson, you have a clear separation between “teacher” and “students,” but at a workshop there isn’t such a clear distinction, and people can interpret things more broadly, dance how they want and express themselves. In workshops I think it’s important to intentionally include sections with no choreography, where the participants are asked to dance what they feel. Everybody expresses themselves freely, and watching it you feel their passion, you’re inspired and realize all over again how wonderful dance is. The workshop in Vietnam was a perfect example of this.
At the workshop, it was impressive how actively you interacted with the participants. Are your workshops in Japan similar in atmosphere?
KAORIalive : Yeah, they’re always like that! At a workshop, you’re meeting practically everybody for the first time, and many of the participants don’t know each other either. I always feel gratitude that I’ve gotten to meet new people through dance, and within the limited time frame of 90 minutes, I try to build as much teamwork as possible.
At the Hanoi workshop, kids who had never met before, by the end were giving each other high fives or going into huddles all together, and it was really terrific to watch! They were all so free-spirited, and even the youngest kids were full of energy and danced with enthusiasm. The members of Memorable Moment were all excited and giving one another high fives as well.
Another thing that struck me in Hanoi was people’s dramatic reactions to things. In Japan, people can be so shy or lack confidence, it’s like they’re not sure how to react, so it can take time to get people to respond to anything or speak their minds. I try all kinds of approaches to get people to open up. In other countries, though, and not just in Vietnam, when you do workshops people are much quicker to react to things. If they like something, it’s “Yeahhhh!” “Wow!” and so on right away. It’s fascinating how different Japan and other countries can be!
Tell us about the performance you put on in Hanoi.
KAORIalive : We decided to base the show around our newest piece, 孤高kokou ~Trust Yourself~, and to build a story in that context. There are no language barriers in dance, and some sections must have been easy for the Hanoi audience to understand, but we did our best to combine these with more ambiguous parts that were open to all kinds of interpretations. I had an image of Vietnam as a country of vivid colors, like the traditional ao dai costumes and so on, and for the final curtain call we tried to do something brilliant and colorful in the spirit of Vietnam.
What’s your impression of the dance scene in Vietnam?
KAORIalive : During the workshop I asked questions like “Do you go to a dance studio?” or “Who do you learn dance from?” But apparently there aren’t many dance studios, they watch videos and practice on their own. In Japan there are so many dance studios and plenty of places to practice and to perform, but in Vietnam there are still not many, and I’m sure the number is going to increase from now on. Both at the workshop and at the show, I was struck by how people latched on to things, how eager they were to absorb anything and everything. As long as they have that drive, I’m sure the dance scene will keep growing and getting more sophisticated. I’m looking forward to seeing that.
What are your plans going forward, and what does Memorable Moment have in the works?
KAORIalive : The most important thing for Memorable Moment is to communicate what’s in our hearts, and we plan to keep doing that through our performances. Everyone is strongly committed to continuing the shows we’ve been doing so far while doing more performances overseas, and that’s the goal we’re going to work toward.
How do you see the potential of DDA as a street dance-oriented project?
KAORIalive : I think there’s no limit to the potential. It’s wide open, there’s no telling what could be done from here on. It’s only been one year since it started and after finishing the show and the workshop, I have a strong feeling it’s going to get bigger and bigger.
Posted – 2016.08.24
This post is also available in: Japanese