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Posts Tagged ‘choreographer’

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Photo: Fred Hatt
Mana Hashimoto is a New York City–based contemporary dancer and choreographer who, despite losing her eyesight, is determined to keep dancing and making dance.

We all have obstacles that rise up in our lives, but for some of us, the obstacles are exceptionally daunting. That was true for the dancer in this story, who made up her mind that her career would not be lost when her eyesight was lost.

Victoria Dombroski interviewed her for Backstage.

“Mana Hashimoto is a New York City-based contemporary dancer and choreographer whose career has spanned from her native Tokyo to many stages worldwide. She also happens to be blind. After losing her eyesight due to optic nerve atrophy, she was determined to keep dancing despite the unexpected obstacle. Since then, she has dedicated her life to merging blindness and dance, and to create artistic works through the use of her remaining senses.

How did losing your eyesight change your trajectory as a dancer?
I trained as a classic ballet dancer and it’s very common that when you take class, you have to check in the mirror to see how you look. It becomes a sort of obsession and trap, consciously or unconsciously. I think it was a relief that I no longer had to see myself in the mirror, but instead be in the moment and be with myself and accept who I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Were there certain things you learned about yourself as a dancer after losing your sight?
“I learned how to accept who I am, [to] be free, and to observe myself internally. It changed my perspective of what beauty is. Visual information can be overwhelming and we are shown what beauty should be instead of who you should be. …

What advice do you have for blind dancers and dancers with disabilities?
“I’m still a work-in-progress as a human being, but if I could advise something: keep enjoying dance. If there are some challenges, you can take them as opportunities to make your dance original. Any challenge is a door we didn’t expect we could open. …

What would you like to see more of in the New York dance community?
“I think more accessibility and openness to have visually impaired participants for workshops and classes. Once we have the right access, dance is open to anybody’s needs. I would also like to see more verbal description for dance performances. Before my performances, I invite visually impaired audiences to feel the space; they can touch and feel the props and costumes. …

What advice do you have for dancers encountering major setbacks in their dance career?
Hold onto your hope. I think it’s very important to share your difficulties along with your dreams.”

More here.

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I read an article by Rebecca Milzoff in the NY Times recently that got me seeing people on the street in a new way.

Milzoff was interviewing a New York City choreographer about his latest work, and something he said stuck with me.

“ ‘I was assured when I came to live in this space on Broadway between Prince and Spring that SoHo would never come this far,’ David Gordon said, looking out the wall-to-wall windows in his second-floor loft. ‘Instead I now live in the Mall of America.’

“ ‘When I set foot out the door, there are so many people going in different directions,’ he said. ‘The choreography of the street is mind boggling.’ ”

Those words came back to me a couple days later as I waited for the morning train. There’s a point when bells start ringing because the gate is going down, and commuters stream across the parking lot with their briefcases and coffee mugs. On this particular day, they looked to me like dancers in a choreography of the everyday. The flow, the spacing between people suggested dance. The commuters had a special aura, partly because they had no consciousness of being in a dance performance.

I hope to be alert to other such happenings in the future.

It sure jazzes up the commute.

Photograph: Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times

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