Thursday, August 18, 2005

I'm posting this today, August 18th, but it was written one week ago:

Awa Odori 2005

I went to see the zenyasai performance at ASTI Tokushima yesterday. It's the big show the day before Awa Odori proper starts. I was totally blown away. I have never seen anything like it. The main reason I went was to see Dave dance, as I had not seen him with his new ren yet. I was sat too far back to see him properly, but when a 6ft something giant comes shimmying on stage after all the small Japanese people, well, it's pretty hard to miss. :) Suffice to say I was able to pick him out no worries. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to be proud of Dave, but that was the word that came to mind when I saw him on stage yesterday: I was proud that my friend had got himself into such a fantastic show, and was being taken seriously by his new group. I was happy to be able to say “That's my mate down there!”

The standard of dancing I saw yesterday was phenomenal. I was totally overwhelmed, so much so that I just cried from beginning to end. I don't know why, but when I saw the perfect harmony of the onna odori, and the absolute power and enthusiasm of the otoko odori, together with the fantastic effort of the kids, well, I couldn't help but compare all that to what I'm doing with Minoda-ren. And we don't have a patch on these people. Compared to them, we are nothing. I was in absolute awe that such a perfect spectacle could be created with so many people. Legs lifted at the same angle, to the same height. Arms swishing back and forth in total unison. “Yattusa” answered with audible and enthusiastic “Yatto yatto” s. Directions changed at the blink of an eye with no stragglers. Not that I am in any way ashamed of my ren, or regretful of how we dance, but when I look at these dancers, I can't help but think that that's how we should be. That's what I aspire to. I'm not sure I have a chance with Minoda-ren. Which is part of the reason Dave left. If only we all had the same style of arms, or all had the same beat in our heads. We try, but looking around tonight, I saw just how much the dancers in my ren, at least in onna odori, are left to their own devices. I try to eminate the dancers in the city, as I have done for some months now, but then there's how Hori-san dances, how Junko dances, and everyone else with their own interpretation. There are girls who've been dancing for a year or so, who sort of have the basic step, enough that they can keep in time with the rest of us, but their form leaves a lot to be desired. Not that I'm much better, but I think we really need to be brought into line, cause we're all different, and it doesn't look great. Mind you, it doens't look AWFUL, but... I don't know. It's hard to explain without sounding like I'm putting Minoda-ren down. I'm not. I just noticed, for the first time, the difference between the big rens and our small family.

I love my ren so much. We have fun. We dance. It's a great relationship. Joining a big professional ren would, I fear, rob me of that wonderful sense of belonging. Or maybe not. Maybe it would just be a different sense of belonging. Not such a familial feel, more of a team than a family. Maybe that way, they get more work done: they haven't as much to talk about outside Awa Odori. I don't know. But they look great, and it's something that one day I would love to be a part of. That won't happen, though. If I keep to my three year tenure, as I am intending to at the moment, then I'll end my Awa Odori days with Mindoda-ren. And that won't be a bad thing at all.

But I want so much to do what these girls do. They look great. They look professional. I think that's what made me cry, just the realization of how it should be, how I want it to be, and how it's just not. And I'm jealous of Dave, getting to dance with these people.

Our dance season starts on Sunday. And I'll have a great time. I know I will. I can't wait. One wonders what will happen next summer, though…. Will I be dancing my last Awa Odori with Minoda-ren before boarding a plane bound for Scotland? Or will I be dancing my last Awa Odori with Minoda-ren before heading to the city as a fourth year JET just so I can join Uzuki, Ebisu, Aoi, Miyabi, or Tonosama ren? Maybe not, but these are just some of the many questions that will need to be answered in the next few months….

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