• Beniko

27. Dance Training


Some Maiko (舞妓) start their dance lesson in their childhood, and some start after they become Maiko (舞妓) trainees. When I was a Maiko trainee, I noticed that there was a difference in intensity between hobby learners and professional trainees.

Gion Kouta (祇園小唄) is an essential song to dance for Maiko at Ozashiki (お座敷, dinner and drinking party with Maiko and Geiko in a traditional Japanese style room), which consists of four chorus of lyrics, as in spring, summer, fall, and winter. In the winter version, there is a part where you have to act as if you are catching snow flakes with your palm, and following the snow flakes flying down with your eyes. That was my weakest part when I was a trainee. I couldn't do it well and was always scolded by my teacher.

My teacher used to say: No, snow doesn't fall that way in Kyoto! I don't want such a soggy snow! It is rain or snow? Your movement is too slow. Snow flakes are light and twinkling! ....Despite my discouraged heart, I tried very hard to improve by observing the movement of snow sitting by the Kamo river (鴨川) whenever I had a chance.

Aside from the snow, another issue of dancing to me was "a-little-drunk" acting. It was difficult because I was a teenager and never had alcohol. I tried to imagine what it feels like to get drunk, only to desperately move my arms and legs, then I heard my teacher saying, "you are not feeling tipsy. It's more like you are dead drunk!"

Technically speaking, Japanese dancing is an art performed in a very limited space. It requires a space of one Tatami (畳) mat only. I still remember what my teacher taught me: The beauty lies in the details. Every tiny movement of your hands and feet should have a certain meaning. Never forget the importance of it.

Now that I've grown up, I still try to incorporate the things I learned from dancing into every tiny movement of my body whenever I am with other people.

Thank you so much.

Talk to you soon.

Beniko

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