Madhu Nataraj's cultural encounter with Japan
Madhu Nataraj's recent trip to Japan was more than just a vacation. The trip, according to the dancer choreographer, will remain close to her heart not only because it was the 50th country she visited, but also because it was a cultural exchange of a special kind. “Renata Piazza invited me to Japan as a consultant, a cultural intersectionist who facilitated this exchange, for a musical that was being played by a group of children in a rural city, called Tono. Located in the hills of the central prefecture of Iwate, this city is known for its legends and folklore, says Madhu, and adds: I was asked to choreograph some elements for the musical. And since people knew my experience and knew that I was traveling for this event, they wanted it to be an enriching experience for me. ”
She was invited to learn Kagura, a 500-year-old Hinto ritualistic dance form, which was revived 40 years ago. I was there at the time of the Matsuri festival, during which the whole city comes alive, with performances by up to 40 dance groups, Madhu explains, and adds: Some of the dance forms resemble those we have in the northeast of the India.
Although she was accompanied by an interpreter, there were times when she could communicate through the language of dance, she says. “While interacting with children, sometimes I spoke in English and they responded in Japanese. But we could understand each other through the language of dance. I could also play with them at the festival, ”shares Madhu. He also visited Tokyo and some other tourist places. “A tea ceremony I attended was special. I was invited to a person's house and there, I had tea with three generations of women. I even used the kimono and learned a different method to make tea there. It is worth mentioning the type of discipline that children maintain in the country. Seeing them clean their own school and their personal space was amazing. The sense of duty that is an undercurrent for each person there was a great learning experience, says Madhu. “This was like a sabbatical for me. I have worked for 28 years, and this free time has rejuvenated me a lot, ”sums up the dancer.