2022 Activity Report vol.12:Shinshu University

Activity Report of Open Application Program 2022 vol.12 (Course B)

The Locality of Contemporary Dance and the Transition from Folk Dance to Contemporary Physical Expression in the Arts

Report from Shinshu University

 We invited Mr. Mintesinot Wolde, a dancer and choreographer from Ethiopia who lives in Ireland, to Japan from September 15th to October 5th, 2022 for the Sakura Science Program.

 I first met with Mr. Minte in April, 2021 when I was introduced in an online international collaborative stage project with Ireland during the COVID−19 pandemic, where we created a collaborative video work together that was choreographed online. I was moved by the wonderful personality of Mr. Minte, his skills and sensitivity of traditional Ethiopian dance, his work as a professional in the field of contemporary dance in Europe, and his drive to take on the challenge of creation. I was also impressed that he led his own dance company, explored its uniqueness in depth, and researched and examined various methodologies. I wanted to meet such a talent face−to−face and implement an exchange project with Japan. That was the catalyst for this project invitation.

Activity Report Photo 1
©Hiroyasu Daido

 This Sakura Science Program invitation was aimed at expanding the possibilities of international activities, developing creative dance scenes with Japanese dancers, visit public institutions, such as theaters, and deepen knowledge in order to further invigorate his dance activities in Ireland. The program consisted of three main sections.

①By experiencing the originality of Japanese contemporary dance and the creation of these dances, we will deepen cultural exchange in the performing arts of Japan, Ethiopia, and Ireland. Also, inspire one another through working with Japanese dancers and their perspectives on choreography methods.

②Through exchanges with Japanese theaters, public institutions, and dance experts, they will observe the status and significance of dance performances in the local community. We will also exchange views on the same matters in Ethiopia and Ireland.

③Finally, by experiencing traditional Japanese performing arts, dance, and rituals, we will examine and discuss the present state of Ethiopian traditional dance, contemporary dance, and contemporary performing arts, and at the same time those of the world.

 Based on this plan, we organized a program to inspire each other through Japanese dancers, share dance creations, and as the final stage, present the results of joint dance works of Japanese dancers and Mr. Minte.

Activity Report Photo 2
©Hiroyasu Daido

 Research on traditional rituals in Nagano Prefecture was done online as it was closed, partly because of the COVID−19 pandemic, and touched on the stories of members of the Tohyama Shimotsuki Matsuri and the Fire Festival Preservation Society. For Shinshu University students, lectures and demonstrations of Ethiopian traditional dances will be provided via on−demand video streaming. Many students that were exposed to African life and culture learned a lot and received a variety of feedback.

Activity Report Photo 3
©Hiroyasu Daido

 In Tokyo, which leads the dance scene, we visited major theaters such as the Setagaya Public Theatre and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, and discussed the role of theaters in the local community. We exchanged views on differences and similarities with Ireland and Ethiopia.

 In addition, Mr. Minte showed Ethiopian traditional dance techniques to Japanese dancers and workshop participants, and conducted joint research on how these techniques could be applied to the creation of contemporary dance. On October 4th, a workshop and presentation were held at Studio ARCHITANZ to present the research results. Participants, enthusiasts, and experts gave a presentation that showed the potential of the open form of physical communication of contemporary dance through "dance as dialog" that comes from the diversity of movement in traditional Ethiopian dance. It was well received.

Activity Report Photo 4
©Hiroyasu Daido

 Mr. Minte expressed his deep appreciation for the fact that this intensive collaborative research was conducted face−to−face. We also heard from Mr. Minte that he empathized with the ingenuity poured into contemporary dance focused on Japanese urban culture and the attitude of creating dance that interprets the body, and was impressed by the diversity of traditional culture in each region. He expressed his deep gratitude to the organizers of the JST Sakura Science Exchange Program, and expressed his hopes that the next generation can experience this kind of program, and that it will continue to develop.

 I would like to express how grateful I am for the fact that this joint research, that integrated practice and theory. was able to be carried out in such a fulfilling manner.

Activity Report Photo 5
©Hiroyasu Daido