Meet the Artist: Emiko Morita
There’s a new development – a distinct mingling of our two conversational strands, improvisation and training – in MascallDance’s fall class offerings. A new January 2014 training intensive takes this further, as seven artists of Nijinsky Gibber Jazz Club involved in the Public Research process, lead nine classes over three weeks of January, merging training and improvisation from seven different perspectives.
Meet the Artist: Emiko MoritaPhotos: Sandra Vander Schaaf
“I love tango for its blood and grit. This dance takes you to the core of humanity and, for those fleeting moments,the pulse of tango can awaken every cell in your body – it is transcendent.”
Emiko Morita has taught close-embrace Argentine tango for over a decade. She has travelled to Buenos Aires and throughout North America to develop her dancing skills. In embraces with old milongueros such as Tete Rusconi, Cacho Dante and Ricardo Hector Suarez, Emiko experienced the corporal essence of tango. Through studies with masters Susana Miller, Alicia Pons and Ana Maria Shapira, she has developed her technical aptitude, body awareness and elegance. Most recently, Emiko participated in a teacher training workshop with Alicia Pons.
This November, Jennifer Mascall and Emiko Morita are co-teaching a class on tango and experiential anatomy on Tuesday evenings this November at the MascallDance studio in Vancouver’s West End.
As I am teaching tango with Emiko it is clear that the training is studying how to connect with another person, and that this is the same study we are doing in the Nijinsky Gibber Jazz Club – which then leads me to understand tango as a form of improvisation.
Can you describe what you mean?. JWM:
When I dance with Emi, I have no idea what we are going to do. I simply try and connect and she leads me where the music leads her. Her sophistication as a leader gives her the ability to read my weight, to know if together we can accomplish a certain move or not–all the time she is calibrating and feeling and guiding and I am there working full out simply staying connected.
What drew you to teach together this way?. JWM:
We’d first connected when Emi (with her previous dance partner) came into the rehearsal process of The White Spider to teach tango principles to the cast.
I attended some technique and experiential anatomy classes at WOW this year, and on the second day, Jennifer invited me to stay and co-teach the afternoon improvisation class. We dove right in –working on things like listening and responding to a partner, preparing, going deeper.
What’s it like, teaching the class together?
Jennifer and I meet beforehand, working on things that transect – we throw ideas at each other. The concept of yielding, for instance, we looked at last class: examining the very basic language of tango – walking, turning, musicality and so on. This week, we looked at intention, reach – using the lymphatic system to create clear clean line.
The dancers in the class are not obliged to bring a partner – and the group contains tango dancers, professional modern dancers, people with movement backgrounds, and the lay public; they work barefoot – a striking change for the tango artists, who wear shoes, heels – and it is so important to connect into the foot, the connection with the ground.
I’m thinking of a tango video clip circulated by Cornelius Fischer-Credo on Facebook a while back. The two dancing were not young. The movement language was so minimal – simple in the extreme, subtle and intense; all suspense, release, sudden micro-surrenders.. It was among most beautiful, erotic things I’ve seen.
By erotic, do you mean voyeuristic?
Not sure – I’m thinking of suspense; musicality, surrender – highly charged energy.
I ask that because I find “eroticism” very often used to describe tango, and I think it is a reduction of what tango is. Tango is a conversation. Sexual , at times. It is sensual – an animal energy, an animal intensity. In tango, your animal is in play; there is intimacy. It is the expression of your spiritual and physical being, shared. To me it is/can be a profound communion.
There is all that taut power in the heightened space between two.
Yes – taut/relax, push/yield. There’s a poem by John Glenday this makes me think of, where he talks about the atoms of us, falling downward. When I tango, I find I experience the size of the universe…. the size of the universe, experienced in a crowded milango. When we are dancing tango, and feel that space, we – and our partner – are each tuned in to our own soul. That tuned focus on the soul, is tapping right into the universal. Here is the poem:
Concerning the Atoms of the Soul
Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the centre
of whatever everything is. And we don’t see it
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That’s what weight is, the communal process of falling
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,
hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that’s what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on another’s heart
Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching
against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the centre of whatever the suspected
centre is, or might have been.
by John Glenday
published in Undark
Photography courtesy Sandra Vander Schaaf http://passionateembrace.ca/