国際交流基金 The Japan Foundation Performing Arts Network Japan

Artist Interview アーティストインタビュー

Nov. 9, 2022
Reisa Shimojima Photo: Mizuki Sato

ケダゴロ・ダンスで実際の事件に対峙する
下島礼紗のパッション

Dance

Kedagoro Dance to confront real cases
The Passion of Reisa Shimojima

Reisa Shimojima (born 1992) is a choreographer and dancer who leads the dance company Kedagoro, known for presenting works based on things like actual incidents of the past. Among Shimojima’s works are Sky (premiered 2018, dealing with the madness and conformity pressures within extremist groups such as the Aum Shinrikyo cult and the United Red Army (Rengo Sekigun) which eventually led to numerous murders), Because Kazcause (premiered 2021, based on the case of Kazuko Fukuda, who was wanted for murder and evaded being arrested until just before the statute of limitations deadline), and others, as well as her latest work, Sewol (premiered 2022), in which she deals with the disastrous sinking of MV Sewol that caused many casualties. The Kedagoro productions, with their impressive and often rigorous motion performed by members, many of whom have never studied dance, and wearing things like disposable diapers as costumes, are now attracting attention from overseas as well. In this long interview we seek to reveal the passion of the artist Shimojima, who has said that more than creating dance works, she is interested in the community that can be born from dance.
Interviewer: Takao Norikoshi (dance critic)

Sewol
Sewol
Sewol
Sewol

Kedagoro Sewol
(May. 26–29, 2022 at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre - Large studio)
Photo: Toshie Kusamoto

Sewol dealing with the tragic sinking of MV Sewol

Your latest work, Sewol (the Romanized Japanese pronunciation) (premiered May 2022), is based on the tragic sinking of the ferry Sewol that occurred in Korea on April 16, 2014, and for its posters and the like you deliberately avoided using Japanese, just the Korean characters for Sewol. I think it was a big decision to take up this sensitive subject from the standpoint of foreigners, because it was such a tragedy in which more than 300 people died, including many high school students, who were on the ferry headed toward a school trip destination, and also because the trial regarding the accident is still ongoing. Why do you choose real incidents like these as your subjects in the first place?
This is because fixed ideas come into play when it comes to one’s own actual experiences, so I thought it would be better to choose subjects that I could look at from a distance. The first thing I took up was the Aum Shinrikyo incident.

My family moved to France immediately after I was born because of my father’s work, and it was when I was 3 years old that we returned to Japan, and that day was March 20, 1995, the day of the Tokyo subway sarin attack by the Aum cult members. I still remember the picture I saw on TV at Haneda Airport, with many people were lying on blue sheets. At university, when I said that I wanted to make a dance work about the Aum incident, many people looked me with expressions of amazement. After I graduated and was lost about what kinds of works to create, I decided to do what I wanted to do, even if I was criticized for it, and that is when I made my solo work Monkey in a Diaper (2017), using the Aum Shinrikyo music “Guru March.”

Thanks to this work, I realized that when I chose as my subjects’ historic incidents from times specific historic backgrounds, it leads the viewers themselves to identify their distance from the incident, starts a chain of thoughts that lead to discussion. And this leads a situation where they respond not only to the work on stage but also the possibility of discussions starting between the members of the audience is born. When in this way, people in the audience respond from various points of view, for the first time, it creates clear images of what the work was and what that incident was. The reason I choose concrete subjects for my works is because of my experiences of the possibility of that kind of resulting communication.
So, why did you choose the sinking of Sewol ferry disaster as your subject?
Concerning Sewol, I still haven’t been able to work out my feelings yet, and I wonder if it is even possible to work it out to begin with. It is true that the subject was a big social incident, but I didn’t want to make it into a work in itself, and like Aum Shinrikyo, I am strongly drawn to the fact that a group of people are sharing an implicit model and sharing the same feelings in the same closed space. Although it may seem imprudent, what drew me into the MV Sewol incident was the relationship and the situation of the people left inside the ship during the incident, so it was the same sort of case.

If I may be allowed to add a strange story to this, from the time I was a child, I often fantasized that I was isolated in something like a children’s hospital and felt a certain extasy in that. So, one of my personal points of departure is that of looking at things from the perspective of a group that is shut off from society at large who share social norms and values that are slightly different from those of the rest of society. Because I grew up in a home where my parents had a bad relationship, perhaps I was seeking a place of my own.
At the premiere of Sewol, at the beginning, the flat platform on which the performers were standing collapses to mark the point where the accident occurred, and from there, the performance went on for 101 minutes until the ship’s hull tilted and sank and you expressed that passage of time within the performance time (60 minutes). Focusing on the confused situation itself, you repeatedly broadcast the Korean expression “Kamaniisso (stay still [where you are])” that was actually broadcast many times on the ship during the accident, and each time the dancers’ bodies come to a stop and then they collapse. Rather than an approach that treats the incident from the perspective of the consequences we know from after of sinking, viewers find themselves facing the actual moments when the disaster was occurring on-board, and there were responses pro and con to this approach. You wrote in the pamphlet that you had hesitations about making this incident into a drama, and that you eventually did away with the original proposal to use a large water tank that had been prepared at the time.
I did a lot of research on the Sewol incident. There is footage that was taken on board, and because the ship was listing, the curtains in the windows were hanging still at an angle as if time had stopped. For that reason, the curtain looked like plastic instead of cloth. That image was so intense for me that I wanted to use that slanted curtain image, that slanted space onboard.

Because we know that the Sewol eventually sank, those of us who watched the tilting ship from the outside are horrified to see those spaces stuck in that diagonal incline. However, we learn that one of the female students who was actually on the boat during the disaster looked at the curtain and said, “That is about 45 degrees ... How do you determine an angle?” That kind of amazing angle in the ship might have even sparked laughter on board. I think there are definitely things born in such extremely harsh conditions that can seem to be something other than simply tragic. Within such inexpressibly mysterious situations, I feel there must have been something that expressed some essence of human life. I felt that intuitively with this tragic incident. I feel that connects to the personal point of departure of mine that I just spoke about, and that is why I was so drawn so strongly to this incident. But, it is something that is very difficult to express, and I can’t clearly grasp it. And it is not simply a problem that it can’t be expressed logically. However, if it were a line of thinking based on the body, as in dance, wouldn’t it be possible? What made me realize this was that diagonal curtain.
In specific terms, how did you choreograph it?
With Sewol, it was really a case where I find it difficult to say that I “choreographed” the piece. My usual choreographing style is to give the dancers a theme to work on based on the inspiration I got from the work’s subject material, and as the dancers start to move in response to the theme I have given them, I pick out “errors” that I find coming from their bodies, and from these I create choreographed moves and staging that will actually be used in the piece. This is the working method that I used in this work (Sewol) as well, but I found it more difficult than ever before to identify and select the “errors.” It was as if the subject of Sewol itself was resisting being made into a piece by imposing tacit limitations on the dancers’ movement. As the creator of the work, I felt as if I was being placed under some kind of control. In response, I felt that rather than spontaneous movement of the body and nerves, there was a need to create bodies that were being moved by outside forces. So, I used things like the platforms, the voice from the trumpet loudspeakers and existing Korean dance movements, things other than choreography, in order to create “bodies that were being moved.”
In your work, the dancers are physically driven to exhaustion, and I felt that there was a sense of desperation and absurdity existing at the same time.
In preparation for this work I gathered documents and video images about the Sewol ferry disaster and studied these materials extensively, and fully aware of the heavy responsibility involved in taking on this incident, I got to the point that when I saw the written Korean hangul characters somewhere around town I would start to feel physically upset in the stomach. But I also had the conviction that it was not the dancers’ responsibility to feel the weight of this kind of responsibility when they went on stage.

In order to get into the question of what the Sewol incident was physically, I thought there was a need to encounter aspects of the incident other than the actual facts and words known about it. And as the point of departure, I came to think that the act of “stopping oneself from breathing” would be an important form of expression.

From the early stages of our rehearsals, we worked on creation of the piece numerous times with the theme of holding one’s breath. After that, every time we rehearsed, the dancers entered the studio knowing that they would have to be prepared to hold their breath again. And that gave birth to a form of group consciousness. As that group consciousness grew in response to just saying the instruction to “dance when a sound is made,” the question naturally came, “can we breathe as we dance?”

During the work, there are scenes when the dancers were instructed to stop breathing whenever they heard an announcement saying the Korean expression “kamaniisso,” and eventually near the end of the rehearsals, they would hear “kamaniisso” even when everyone was relaxing during a break, and they would automatically stop breathing. In order to bring to the stage a true sense of realism to that reaction to the word “kamaniisso” which had become instinctual in the studio, I pushed the dancers quite a bit. Because I feel that the more severe a situation is, the more clearly the unison of such a shared group reaction can be felt. It can be felt as a rather horrific side of the human beast.

I didn’t get this idea because I wanted the dancers to relive what it was like being on the ship, I got it because I thought there was probably no route to connect the type of situation deriving from that kind of group consciousness of condition of the body to the Sewol incident.
Among the pros and cons in terms of reactions to the performance, one of the points of contention was why you didn’t use a Japanese equivalent for this “kamaniisso” instead of using the Korean as you did.
I have been told many times that if I had used a Japanese equivalent, the audience would have understood the meaning more clearly, but that is an opinion that disregards why I chose to use “kamaniisso” in the first place. Seeing the characters “Sewol” immediately makes Koreans think of the MV Sewol tragedy, but for Japanese who don’t know Korean, it makes them first of all wonder how it is read. From the time I decided to use the Korean characters in the title as a symbol, without including the Japanese reading, I had decided to use it as a device to take people on a journey into the unknown. I believe that being halted by a language barrier is a superficial thing, but also one that indicates a lot of things. You might say that, rather than reaching out for things we can’t obtain, we might be giving up too early on things closer at hand.

Also, when I approach a specific subject, I often intentionally use devices to upset the consciousness or the thoughts of the audience. Something has to be done to provoke thought in the viewers, and this is because this is the kind of work that can only succeed if we are able provoke a real response from the Japanese audience. That said, however, if you just use any device to do that, that represents an absence of thought on our side. We want the audience to feel that they have to think about what they have seen after the performance, and we also have the desire to have them experience it as entertainment as well. And regarding this point, the question of what balance of seasoning we use is very important in the works of Kedagoro.

Also, regarding the use of the Korean term kamaniisso, this is something I want to think about more deeply going forward based on the opinions I have received regarding it. For example, on the post-performance questionnaire, there were comments like, “Why did all the dancers stop breathing and moving every time they heard the word kanimiso (Japanese for crab-flavored miso bean curd)?” (laughs). I was surprised when I read this comment on the questionnaire. And it made me think that, rather than using the Korean word kamaniisso, maybe it would have been more effective if I had chosen a more unrelated word if my intent was to make the audience think about why the dancers stopped in response to hearing it and thus lead them to think about something unknown. But this is just an arbitrary example.

Launching Kedagoro while in college

You were born in Kagoshima Prefecture in 1992. What was your first encounter with dance?
After coming back from France as a young child, I grew up in my great-grandfather’s house in Kagoshima because my parents had divorced. I was a wild kid who would start fires outside and make magadama bead shapes. But when I was seven years old, a friend invited me to join a local jazz dance class.

I wasn’t really interested in jazz dance at first, but it was around the time that there was a booming interest in the Yosakoi Soran festival of Hokkaido, and in order to liven things up in our Kagoshima all of a sudden the teacher of out jazz dance class told us we were going to take part in the Kagoshima Gion Festival (Ogionsaa) and we were going to do dance jazz using the naruko clappers used in the Yosakoi festival in order to add some kind of new contemporary dance to the festivities (laughs). Because of that, every weekend I was traveling around and dancing in various regions and meeting various people. In that way I began to become very attracted to the sense of community that is born by dancing.
Why did you decide to study dance at a university in Tokyo?
I didn’t think that my dance would be accepted in Tokyo, so with the intention of becoming a stage director, I chose to attend Oberlin University, where I could study stage staff work. But, as I watched from backstage, I thought that I could do it too! and the thought came to mind to ask them to let me do it, too. Once a year, there was an in-school performance program called "Lab Project" where you create a work of about 10 to 15 minutes and perform it in an omnibus type of program, and that is where I presented my first work. For the next three years, every time I created a work, my supervisor, Kuniko Kisanuki, kept telling me, “You’re a wicked little thing” (laughs).

I think she probably sensed that since I didn’t try to create beautiful dance, there was something dangerously rebellious in me. Thanks to the presence of professor Kisanuki, who was known for her respect for dance and her belief in aesthetic beauty, I feel that I was able to choose my own current path.
Officially, Kedagoro was formed in 2013 while you were in college. Your first Kedagoro work, Hitoyama, premiered in 2014.
After I decided to do dance seriously, I “bared my fangs” and adopted an attitude that I would kick my heels up and do things no one expected! So, before forming Kedagoro, I formed a company of all female dancers, but in the end the I had the group break up and disappeared due to conflicting personal relationships. For a while after that I felt like an empty shell, but when I looked around, I noticed that there were people who, like me, had gone their own way and were feeling that they didn’t want to do anything more in the theater or dance activities around them. So, I asked them to come up with a new type of work, and that was Hitoyama (the first work by the subsequent Kedagoro).

There were 20 performers, and the performance was performed in a rented theater on campus. The year was 2013, which is the year of the formation of Kedagoro, and I looked around and got together this group of “empty shell” dancers like myself and we started working in the studio. Most of the current members of Kedagoro are ones who remained together after Hitoyama.
I see. That’s why all the members of Kedagoro are not from dancer backgrounds. By the way, it’s an interesting company name, but what does it mean?
Kedagoro is a word from the Kagoshima dialect, and it refers to animal droppings that are lying on the ground. Keda means beast, and goro just means a thing. I there was just one time that I put dog droppings on myself performed Hitoyama, but now I think that they are just too dirty and undesirable to look at and something unnecessary that you wish someone would get rid of. But in fact, the droppings are very necessary live-giving material for some. And I have a clear image that Kedagoro’s works can hopefully be a source of nutrient for some people like that.
Hitoyama is an interesting work in which everyone wears disposable diapers, walls and partitions are activated, the space expands more and more, the movement is unusually heavy and the essence of the just-mentioned kedagoro is evident. According to the credits, you choreographed, composed and directed the work.
At that time, many people were angry at me, saying, “Can’t you dance if I don’t use things?” (laughs). Most people who are doing dance at Oberlin University have the belief that “the body speaks,” and, “the body transforms the space” (and I myself believe that in my own way). That’s true, of course, but I have a complex and an antipathy towards that attitude, and I was able to turn that antipathy into energy. And that is why we have today’s Kedagoro. It starts with the debate of “Is this a dance?” and so on, which is why Kedagoro has been established. I myself want to be a dancer, and if I let go of dance from the beginning, I will surely become bored very quickly. Dance is like an ex-boyfriend that I can’t get out of my mind, so I rebel against it, and I want to pay it back.
There seem to be many things that you want to get back at (laughs).
I can only make works out of a feeling of rebelliousness. I’ve been told many times to make something more beautiful. Like a lotus flower, sublimate what is in the mud and make something beautiful. It troubled me when I was told that I shouldn’t show the mud as it was.
Despite your strong rebellious spirit, you accept criticism openly.
I accept it. And it hurts me so much. But it is also where everything starts from.
By the way, the paper diapers, which can be said to a standard costume of Kedagoro and for you, they appeared for the first time in Hitoyama. Since then, you have also used them in your film Severe third-party eyes... (premiered 2016), Monkey in a Diaper (premiered 2017), and Sky (premiered 2019). Why did you choose paper diapers?
It is rather hard for me to admit, but for Hitoyama we had gathered 20 dancers, we didn’t have the money for costumes. As I was going around to mass retailers thinking about what to do, a special sale of 20 of paper diapers caught my eye and I leaped at the chance. That’s really the only reason.

Just wearing diapers had a lot of repercussions. First of all, when only wearing diapers, the dancers were no longer inclined to show off their dance technique. It denied them of any way to dance with excessive pride, and that made us able to create works from ground zero. It also gave me the awareness that a work couldn’t be ridiculed as superficial if it had the strength to go beyond the detracting impact of the diapers.

In 2017, I made a solo work titled Monkey in a Diaper, and I think that in this work became my answer to the question of why I personally chose diapers. Most people wear diapers in an era when they can’t handle urination/excretion on their own, usually in the case of babies or the elderly. Also, it is people in pants, not diapers, that move the world. For that reason, I wanted Kedagoro’s works to be ones that a look down on such human society from the viewpoint of people who wear diapers. This is still my stance in creating works for Kedagoro.
Monkey in a Diaper
Monkey in a Diaper

Monkey in a Diaper
(Feb. 2017, at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No.1)
Photo: Tsukada Yoichi

Attention-getting works released in quick succession

After graduating, your second Kedagoro performance in 2016 was an outdoor performance. In the same year, you won the New Artist of the Year award for your work in the d-Warehouse “Dance ga Mitai! New Artist Series 15” for Severe third- party eyes.... In 2017, your solo work, Monkey in a Diaper, won the Outstanding New Artist Prize at the “Yokohama Dance Collection 2017 Competition II” and the Hungarian Touchpoint Art Foundation Award, and an invitation to Hungary was decided. In 2018, you presented Sky, the next in your series of attention-getting works which took the Aum Shinrikyo incident as its subject.
After Hitoyama, I started Kedagoro at a time when I was still searching to find a direction for my work. I admired underground theater and danced on the soil in the precincts of the Kishimojindo Temple (hall dedicated to Kishibojin [guardian deity of children]) in Zoshigaya. I was even thinking about dissolving Kedagoro, but after winning the award at d-Warehouse, I felt like I was being told not to dissolve Kedagoro. Being invited to Hungary was a very valuable experience, but I had a hard time because I didn’t have any knowledge of overseas performances. But in that first stage overseas we received the Audience Award, which I feel was a big step for me.
In Sky, there is even Aum Shinrikyo’s “Extremely Strict Practitioner Ondo” and reference to the “Summarization” which the United Red Army conducted, resulting in the lynch-type murder of their comrades one after another. But what’s happening on stage is a meaningless act of penance where everyone holds a thick block of ice with their bare hands for a long time. However, the pressure to encourage each other creates an eerie euphoria, which then falls into the catharsis of a large surging dance in unison. In fact, this presents the idea that dance has the same roots as cults. This work went on to be invited to perform all over the world to high acclaim.
The subject was the United Red Army that was trapped in the snowy mountains itself, so from the rehearsal stage, everyone relived the experience by soaking their feet in ice water for a long time and sprinting with all their might blindfolded. Then I suddenly wondered why the dancers followed my instructions so obediently. Before I knew it, I found myself being horrified by the frightening “power of the choreographer hierarchy” that I wielded in my hands. From there, I created it as “a work that expresses the collective madness that can occur in a dance company.” It was an idea that came to us in the creative process with the members of Kedagoro, so it is not really a work that I created by myself.
sky
sky

Kedagoro Sky
(Feb. 2018 at Yokohama Nigiwai-za Small Hall)
Photo: bozzo

There are occasional works that express violence, but most of them are just reproducing violence on stage. However, I thought that Sky clearly depicted the essence of what drives people to violence.
In 2021, you presented Because Kazcause as the third work of Kedagoro. The subject is Kazuko Fukuda, a real killer who escaped the hands of the police for about 15 years while repeatedly undergoing plastic surgery on her face, but she was finally arrested just before the statute of limitations deadline for the case. This was an acrobatic work in which a lattice of pipes was constructed on the stage ceiling, and several dancers dressed as Fukuda kept trying to escape by moving around while hanging from the pipes and hiding themselves.
She (Fukuda) was arrested when I was 5 years old. In the photograph of her at the time of her arrest, she was wearing orange clothes with one collar folded and had a smooth-looking face that left a strong impression on me, and this ended up being the key to his work. It was after Sky, which dealt with the collectives themselves, so I wanted this to be my first work that didn’t deal with a collective. In order to portray Kazuko Fukuda personally, I decided to use a group to express one person.
It was physically demanding, wasn’t it?
The performance was postponed for a year due to COVID-19. For the dancers, this was a time when they could rest their bodies that they had been training up until the expected performance date, and then when the rescheduled performance date was decided they had to re-train themselves with a determination that, “I will hang as long as needed!” It was like a state of mind control induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the female cast playing Kazuko Fukuda, there are two men in male roles (Einstein and Newton).
These male roles hadn’t been included in the initial stage. I was thinking only about Kazuko Fukuda the whole time the performance was postponed, so in order to change my mind, I chose to read a book about the subject I knew least about, physics. And it was there that I came across the concepts of universal gravitation and the theory of relativity. That caused me to come up with the idea of adding an expression of the weight of the criminal’s sin as gravity to the original choreography of hanging and climbing on the lattice of pipes hanging from the ceiling.

When Kazuko Fukuda was younger, she had been the victim of rape in prison when was serving a sentence for robbery. I felt that this fact overlapped with the gravity of not being able to escape the violence present throughout a male-dominated society.

Also, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a state where there was nowhere in the world where we could escape, and we became aware that we were supported by the prison that is the Earth’s gravity.
Because Kazcause
Because Kazcause
Because Kazcause
Because Kazcause

Kedagoro Because Kazcause
(Jun. 2022 at Shimokitazawa Small Theatre B1)
Photo: bozzo

Kedagoro’s method

When you talk to artists of your own age, there are many dancers who do not belong to one specific company but go back and forth between each other’s companies or work in a loosely connected manner. On the other hand, Kedagoro looks strong as a company.
Probably, other choreographers’ purpose is to create works, but I am more interested in using works as an excuse to build a community. For this reason, I try to constantly change the relationship between choreographers and the dancers so that the choreographer does not become the pinnacle of a hierarchy within a company.

For example, in Sky, I, as the director, am asked by the members, “Why are you letting do you let us do this with no payment!” Rather than being a leader, I want to be a person who can change the class structure depending on the situation. The roles within a company easily become fixed, so when I sense that danger, I change things quickly. Thanks to the repetition of this process, I find that before I realized it, Kedagoro has been going on together for 10 years.
I think Kedagoro has a unique movement in the lower body, something like the ceremonial stomping of the feet by Sumo wrestlers as they enter the ring. Do you have your own method regarding techniques like this?
I am often asked this, but there’s no special method involved. I don’t like creating that kind of method because it makes me feel like I will then “belong” to that method. At the beginning of rehearsals, we always do warm-up training for about 30 minutes to an hour, but it is simply push-ups, sit-ups and back muscles exercises, just the normal military-style training to build body strength. It isn’t because I want each individual to stand up, it is because Kedagoro is meaningless unless we can stand up as a group.

However, the training menu changes depending on the work we are preparing for. For each incident that we take as the subject for a work, I do thorough analysis of the case and devised the necessary items for the training menu. That said, my origins are in Yosakoi dance, so the hand and foot movements of Yosakoi have naturally been acquired by the members of Kedagoro, I believe.

Overseas Invitations and the Future

Your works Monkey in a Diaper and Sky have been invited overseas numerous times. How has the response been to your performance overseas?
We performed Sky on the subject of student movements at the Hong Kong Dance Exchange festival at a time when demonstrations were spreading there mainly among young people. Some people cheered us on passionately in the midst of the demonstrations, and other people asked, “Are you on the side of the Chinese Communist Party?” The theme of the festival at that time was “Stand Up HK,” and it was a situation where art was completely mixed with the societal movement, which is a different situation from any competition Japan. Without regard for the controversy, etc., I felt like our work had just been dropped randomly into that social context in Hong Kong at the time.
At the Hong Kong Dance Exchange, you are currently working on a piece that you will co-choreograph with Hong Kong dancers.
We are still in the middle of creation, and we are at the point where the title has just been decided. Democracy is one of the themes in the world today, but I was told that it was not good to include “democracy” or “free” in the title, so most of the titles I had been thinking of had to be discarded. That has been another big experience for me in terms of getting to know the world through dance.
In China and Singapore, you can’t perform unless you get permission in advance, and there is de facto censorship. People there are resisting this in various ways, but how do things look?
When I found myself facing the situation in a country where freedom is restricted, I felt that the reason why a work exists is overwhelmingly important. Of course, it is better to have freedom, but I also believe that there are blessing that are born because there are restrictions.
In 2022, we hear that you have plans to do works not only in Hong Kong, but also in Singapore, Korea, Northern Ireland, and Italy, and you also have collaborative works in process in Japan, don’t you?
International projects that had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to start in motion again all at once. When I meet [dancers] face-to-face for the first time, in lieu of a self-introduction, I have everyone do Kagoshima Oharabushi (folk songs of Kagoshima Prefecture). I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, so it’s ingrained in my body. What’s interesting is that the dancers’ reactions to the Oharabushi are completely different from country to country.

Since Korean dancers have studied traditional dances, I thought that they would respond with movements that were close to the Oharabushi, but what happened was that they responded with movement that is closer to ballet. Indonesian dancers have a unique rhythm to their dance, so they said that the simple rhythm of the Oharabushi was difficult for them. When it comes to Europe, they don’t care about movement, and they say, “Reisa, try to recite for us the words of the Oharabushi song” (laughs).
They have no desire at all to dance or learn (laughs).
But the difference is truly interesting. Right now, building on the Oharabushi and developing things from there has become my specific motivation when creating collaborative international works.
From the end of 2022 into 2023, you will be touring Because Kazcause in Akita, Tokyo, and Shizuoka.
The premiere of a new work is a stage where you impose your own ideas and concepts on the audience, clash with them, and then have them think together. And based on that feedback from the audience, I think that with these re-stagings we ourselves can see the background behind the works. On this tour our aim is to re-think the work Because Kazcause and present a finished version of it.

However, there are some things that are difficult to maintain freshness of in a re-staging, and I think about various things, and for example with regard to Sky, one of the dancers says, “I’ve gotten used to it a bit,” and changes the grip of the arm holding the ice to a tighter angle. Because they can come out with the intention of being harder on themselves, there are times when I wonder if they are in a somewhat dangerous mental state. In the end, I think it’s important that Kedagoro be more than just it’s works, but also a group.
Please tell us about your future prospects.
In fact, at a meeting held during the COVID-19 pandemic, I said, “Instead of continuing to let things drag on like this because of the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s disband if we don’t achieve our goal within three years.” That goal was to “perform one full-length production overseas” or “do a tour in Japan to more than three places,” but before we knew it, that goal has already been achieved.

As the next step to having created works that represent the company in the different ways that Sky, Because Kazcause, and Sewol have, I think the time has come for us to show not a new work but, for example, to perform Sewol in Korea, though it may sound crazy, and in that way to show that we can choose a course of action that shows how we are applying ourselves to our works or creation.