Dancing is illegal in Japan


This video says about itself:

Real Scenes: Tokyo

10 February 2014

Read more about this film here.

For our latest Real Scenes films, we journey to the Japanese capital to meet the DJs, promoters, campaigners and producers who have been affected by the Fueiho. We hear how a rapidly aging population and the negative public perception of nightclubs have meant that fighting for reform is just part of the problem.

Despite these extraordinary challenges, Tokyo is home to passionate, dedicated dance music community, who have responded with campaign groups like Let’s DANCE, and the establishment of small, underground music spaces. There is a collective understanding that if they want to affect change it will have to come from within.

From The Newsletter, #70, spring 2015, of the International Institute for Asian Studies:

The politics of dancing in Japan

Dancing is illegal in Japan. That does not mean it doesn’t happen, and indeed nightclubs regularly stay open into the early hours. However, since 2010 police have begun reanimating Japan’s old fueiho cabaret law, dubiously used to crackdown on nightclubs.

This has been a disaster for Japan’s vibrant underground music scene, an affront to freedom of expression, and evidence of a growing authoritarianism by elites who rely on vague legal and institutional practices.

With a push back from Japan’s civil society in the form of the Let’s Dance Campaign, and a simultaneous alignment between domestic and international elites worried about the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, things may be beginning to change. This article explores the structures of power underlying this issue and speculates on the degree to which recent developments may be cause for alarm or cheer.

Read full article here.

Music, poetry and dance


On 21 November, there was a music, dance and poetry night. First on stage was the soul/funk music of James & Black. This is a music video from their hometown, Austin, Texas in the USA. Contrary to that video, on this night no guitarist, bass player and drummer: just the male keyboard player and the female singer Bella Black, plus DJ Phil Ross.

During their last song, the teenage girls of the local BplusC dance group joined them on stage. They will be in the band’s next music video.

Next on stage was local comedian Ronald Oudman. One of his targets was the idea of ‘positive thinking’ supposedly solving all problems, including cancer. He also said: ‘I don’t believe in reincarnation. In my last life I did; but not any more in this life’.

Next was yours truly; with poems about a damaged umbrella; about love; about a ladybird; about greenbottle flies; and about a bee-eater.

Then came klezmer music, by the local band Di Krenitse (the Source in Yiddish language). They are Karel Das, on violin and vocals; Dorien Hooman on accordion and vocals; Rob Nederhof on soprano clarinet. They used to be five musicians; but Eva van den Berg has moved to the east of the country.

Their final song tonight was the 1930s Yiddish love song Bei Mir Bistu Shein (To me, you are beautiful; the song was later translated into English and sung by the Andrews Sisters and others).

There is also a Dutch language version of this song. However, that version is not a love song, but a sarcastical song about how poor people saw the 1930s economical crisis:

Bei Mir Bistu Shein [in Yiddish original in the Dutch lyrics],
we leven van de steun [we are dependent on unemployment benefits]
we leven van het crisiscomitee [we live on rich people’s charity].

We krijgen erwtenssoep [We get pea soup]
die lijkt op koeiepoep [which tastes like cow shit].
We krijgen roggebrood [We get rye bread]
daar gooi’n we de kat mee dood [good only for killing the cat by throwing it].

We eten vlees uit blik [We eat canned meat]
van een bedorven sik [of a rotting goat carcass] …

Bei Mir Bistu Shein,
we leven van de steun [we are dependent on unemployment benefits]
en de groeten van het crisiscomitee [and best wishes from the rich people’s charity].

This is a video of that Dutch language version, plus other songs (barrel organ and vocals).

After the klezmer music, poems by yours truly again. This time about a window; the Iraq war; winter; the Dutch royal family; and the BP oil disaster.

Then came singer-songwriter Sam van Tienhoven. He accompanied his singing on guitar and harmonica.

After a pause came Japanese dancing by Raiden Yosakoi. Raiden means Thunder and Lightning in Japanese. The dance group members are mainly students of Japanese and Korean at the university.

After the dancing, my last poem. Also the longest poem: about Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet.

Then, classical music by the Leids Kamerkoor. At first they sang songs by Brahms. Then, Mendelssohn – Die Nachtigall (The Nightingale); on the video, performed by the university choir of Munich in Germany.

Then, singer-songwriter Sarah Laure.

This music video is called Sarah Laure – Let Me Be Distracted.

Finally, rock ’n roll by Weltmeister.

British ballet about World War I


This video from England says about itself:

Lest We Forget: Trailer

24 March 2014

Witness English National Ballet like you’ve never seen them before at the Barbican Theatre in a programme marking the centenary of the First World War.

Lest We Forget includes three new commissions by Akram Khan [Dust], Russell Maliphant [Second Breath] and Liam Scarlett [No Man’s Land]. George Wiliamson’s Firebird completes the programme.

By Peter Lindley in Britain:

Dance: Remarkable WWI requiem

Wednesday 9th April 2014

Lest We Forget — Barbican Centre, London EC2

5/5

On the face of it a dance programme commemorating the onset of the first world war might seem a lightweight proposition.

But Lest We Forget is both a vision of the hell of those distant battlefields and a comment on the war’s destructive impact on society.

The English National Ballet production, a quartet of contemporary ballet and dance works from the ENB’s Liam Scarlett and guest choreographers, is something of a triumph.

There is grace and superb technique in Alina Cojocaru and Fabian Reimair’s performances in Scarlett’s ghostly No Man’s Land, about the loss and longing of men and women separated by war.

Equally compelling are Ksenia Ovsyanick and Junor Souza, who give a mesmerising display of power and characterisation in George Williamson’s brilliant depiction of a decadent society in pursuit of beauty in the Firebird.

But in stark contrast to the lyrical impulses of Scarlett and Williamson it is the shocking tableaux of falling soldiers in Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath that provide the programme with its most sensitive act of remembrance for lives sacrificed.

Akram Khan, dancing in Dust (pictured) and pushing physicality to the very limits, makes an equally striking impression.

In a duet with ENB’s artistic director Tamara Rojo, Khan’s persona appear to be at the mercy of invisible forces in a desolate yet ferocious struggle to survive.

The sombre mood deepens as the themes of love lost and beauty destroyed are explored.

And, as the evening progresses, the sense of impending hell on earth becomes almost palpable.

Runs until April 12. Box office: (020) 7638-8891.

Birdsong is a a powerful representation of life and death on the Western Front during WWI, says SUSAN DARLINGTON: here.

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