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On the Ground

Opening New Doors

Q&A with Noriko Kusama
  • Kusama / Photo courtesy of Kusama
  • Kusama / Photo courtesy of Kusama

Noriko Kusama was born in Japan and trained in ballet and contemporary dance with Teruko Uchibori at Uchibori dance studio in her home town of Niigata. After moving to Canada, Kusama continued her training with various teachers in Toronto such as Robert Desrosiers and Johanna Bergfeldt. Kusama choreographed and performed her first duet in the fFIDA dance festival in 2005. In 2007 she began to work with Desrosiers to develop and perform a series of dance pieces – Contemplation (2008), Wedding (2011), Take Ito Kawa (2016) and Unveil (2018).

The Dance Current caught up with Kusama before her performance in Rhythm, Stories, Movement, a performance with Canada’s taiko group Nagata Shachu and also featuring author/storyteller Rui Umezawa and contemporary dancer Yuichiro Inoue. The work will run on November 24 at Al Green theatre in Toronto. 

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The Dance Current Could you talk a little bit about your dance training and what made you want to create and perform? 

Noriko Kusama I studied ballet and Graham technique in Niigata city, Japan in my early teens. My studies and work continued in Canada under various teachers and including Robert.

I always loved to dance around with music since I was little girl. I started piano lessons at age of five and went to a lesson every Saturday afternoon. After the lesson, I would go to a big playroom down the hall and would dance and move around with the music in my head. That is where it started for me. My artistic expression is through dance.

Often my inspiration for movement creation starts with music. Every note of the sound makes me move. It is simply a reaction – nothing forced, it happens naturally. I perform because I want to share what I experienced in the music.

TDC Rhythm, Stories, Movement encompasses many artistic disciplines. What was the process of working with artists from such varied fields?

NK There was strong message in Rui Umezawa’s stories as well as the powerful, yet beautiful music by Nagata Shachu. I took Rui’s story deep inside me and tried to understand the message he wanted to deliver and to understand his feelings. All I had to do was throw myself into Nagata Shachu’s music because it had all the emotion and nuance in the sound.

From this collaboration, I discovered a way to show myself in the performance. What they present is so pure (the most powerful thing) and you cannot pretend to be someone or something else. I absorbed it with my all respect and created the movement to it.

TDC What surprised you most in the process of creating this production?

NK This collaboration and these great artists opened a new door for me and took me somewhere I’ve never been and never experienced before.

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