“The World Dance Alliance has initiated a project to join in celebrating the millennium. It is a time to consider where we have been, where we are and where we are going. Therefore the theme of World Dance 2000 is ‘Dance in the Past, Present and Future,’ ” said Miki Wakamatsu.
|Miki Wakamatsu says, “We can find our own lives’ natural flows” through dance.|
He is president of World Dance Alliance Japan and World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific, and promoter of World Dance 2000 Tokyo. At 65 he can still do a kind of vertical splits, standing on one leg with the other in a straight line above his head. To dance, for him, is more compelling than to eat or drink.
World Dance 2000 is a three-year conference and festival program in three parts. Last year, Philadelphia hosted the festival of dance of the past. This year’s project — the present — is a three-city venture, held in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. In 2002, the future of dance will be considered in Duesseldorf.
The Fourth Global Assembly of World Dance Alliance will also be held in the three cities, “to give members more opportunities to attend and participate in discussions and planning for the future,” Wakamatsu said. “World Dance Alliance is a voice and support group for dance worldwide.” He is pleased at the Chinese Dance Association’s recent affiliation with WDA, “to promote dance above all things, to proceed, to know each other and strive to seek tolerance.”
Academically, Wakamatsu is a dance professor. He is professor emeritus of Tsukuba University, and still a very active professor at the Japan Women’s College of Physical Education. “This is the first private college to have a dance major course,” Wakamatsu said. He is also guest professor at the Chinese Center Folklore College.
Wakamatsu was born in Sapporo to a father who was a modern artist. His father enjoyed ice skating, and introduced his son at the age of 4 to the ice and to figure skating. “From that I went into dance,” Wakamatsu said. As a young man, he joined with Tatsumi Hijikata, founder of butoh, and musicians to present some 650 performances over the next seven years.
Toward the end of this period, Wakamatsu formed his own troupe, Wakamatsu and Tsuda. He received prizes for different works from the National Cultural Department Art Festival and the Japan Dance Critical Award. With a Cultural Department grant, he went to Paris in 1973 to perform on French television. He performed in New York in 1974 and 1981 at the Riverside Church Theater and Carnegie Hall. He choreographed and composed music for “Dance for AIDS” for Kuala Lumpur Ballet Theater in Malaysia in 1997. In 1998 he created a dance work for the New National Theater, Japan. In 1999, he received the Purple Medal Ribbon from the government. Notably for all his work he is performer, choreographer, composer and producer.
Those who work with Wakamatsu describe the association as very exciting, as he is always rethinking and redeveloping dance performances. They say he is willing to discuss and take suggestions. He composes on his computer, and sometimes spends all night on his music. Often he uses his students in dance performances, and accepts some non-Japanese students.
Wakamatsu has formed a group, Silver Beat Dancers, comprised of dancers aged over 65. In January the group danced in New York. It was invited to Holland in June and will tour Europe this autumn. Wakamatsu said: “I found it interesting that in Japan there are many artistic activities for older people, who with age win respect. This is not so common in Europe, where youth is the focus. That is why I wanted to take this group of over-65s to Europe.”
Among books and videos that Wakamatsu has produced, two have titles indicating his depth of feeling: “Dance as a Crisis Reaction” and “Dance Conversation of Love.” He has published analytical studies of “spatial ideas,” “typical postures of beauty,” “modern society and the change of dance” and “problems of contemporary dance in East Asia.” Wakamatsu said: “The world and the universe have a natural flow, natural cycles. We are very small in the order, but we live in the natural flow. Through dance, through combinations of music, movement and body awareness, we can find our own lives’ natural flows within the bigger cycles.”