Lively anecdotes from a dancer's life

As she lifts herself up a little to rest her arm on the railing and get a better view of the City, Yoriko Maeno exclaims, “It is exciting to see big animals walking on the road along with people!” leaving Metrolife wondering about what all this contemporary dancer has observed, while on her maiden trip to India.

In Delhi recently for a workshop and performance ‘Dance & Me’ at The Japan Foundation, the young artiste confesses that her parents rejected her decision to choose dance as a career. 
 
“My father is a professor of Sociology at the university and wanted to me to be a teacher,” she laughs, revealing the “everyday quarrels” that she underwent at the age of 20 to take up her Bachelor’s and subsequently Master’s degree in dance.

“I saw a few Broadway musicals by famous dance companies, in Japan, when I was 13 and got inspired to learn classical ballet and jazz. But the exposure to contemporary dance came to me only through my university education,” says Yoriko smiling on how she used to “sleep during the theory classes. I liked the practical bit of the studies, however, that education was very basic in terms of technique.”

She joined a dance company after completing her education and has great admiration for the director of the company - Kaori Kagaya. 

“I worked at the company for five years and learnt how to improvise on a choreography.”

Something that she mastered  and soon received the Akita-Komachi Award. 

Presently staying in Germany, to learn the latest trends of dance culture in Europe and collaborate with local dancers and artistes, Yoriko rues “People in Japan don’t consider me as a jazz or ballet dancer because, according to our culture, we can specialise in only one dance form unlike in India. There is a fine line of differentiation between any two dance forms which is not very good for Japan. This makes me work more on fusion in dance culture in order to change the current situation.”

Her dance piece ‘Dance & Me’ is a derivative of the same ideology. 
 
“For this I offered my colleague Yuichi Nishikawa to compose music first and then improvised my dance on it. His music is based on the concept of Indian meditation, but incorporates Japanese elements in it. Otherwise, I ask him to adjust the music to my choreography,” explains the dancer who has already performed the piece during a dance festival in Pune and has received an offer from an Indian classical dancer to collaborate with her in near future.

“If all goes as per the plan, I will be able to come back to India and shall not miss 
the chance to learn Bharatanatyam since I really like the dance form. It has such a gorgeous costume and is so lyrical, unlike Japanese traditional dance forms which are much calm and have long music and short movements. I like the movements in Indian classical dances that are spiritual and sensitive,” she says.
 

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