STREET DANCE NORMS TAKE ON NEW FORMS
Street dance is often associated with the urban and concrete structure of major cities. This summer we have had the pleasure of meeting with street dancer and performer Kazuma Glen Motomura in Berlin, Germany. A world traveled performer and dance maker who is revisiting earthly elements through his instinctive choreographic practice. Combining nature, politics and street performance. With his charismatic presence both in the studio and outside, it came as no surprise that this vulnerable and honest artist would find his new creative host in the everyday mundane that we so often look past. Transferring his creative energy toward the greater good, Kazuma offers a new approach to street dance and a new way of seeing hip-hop, theater and contemporary forms as one.
Can we truly heal the damage created around us? Can we go back to our basic roots, the earth around us? One artist seems to believe so.
By. Megan Curet
TILLT: How would you describe your movement background?
KM: Moving has always been my home, growing up in 5 different countries due to my father’s job. Born in Japan, I was always trying to impress my mom and big brother dressing up and performing as imaginary super heroes. When I moved to NY at age 10, I started to learn karate from an African American master, later winning the all Japan Tournament when I was in high school. In my teenage years in Vienna I had my first brief contact with b-boys (break-dancers) at the Love Parade and later saw the world tour production Jam on the Groove by the originators of hip-hop dance movements. In that moment I fell in love with theater, hip hop and dance simultaneously. It was my dream to be a martial arts action star but the love of dance consumed me. I now fuse martial arts in my choreographic practice.
Later, I studied contemporary dance in Chapman University and Hunter College NY. I simultaneously continued dancing in the streets, and the underground house scene, performing with spoken word slam poetry over social issues and with Spinnin Ronin, a martial arts dance theater company.
TiLLT: Through fusing styles, how would you describe your practice now?
So I learned a wide spectrum of movement from hip hop to contemporary, martial arts to traditional Japanese dance and I was juxtaposing them and playing around with them. Just like how I adapted and harmonized Japanese and Western culture and language into my body. I made new compounds of seemingly disparate cultural movement forms to coexist with one another inside my body without them cancelling each other out.
Now I am taking each of these gifts of styles out of their boxes and melting the borders through the universal imagery of nature: water, earth, air and fire etc. Doing dance meditation in the lake moving every cell of my body like water, standing strong like trees, and growing roots from under my feet to fill the whole space with my consciousness…
Through this new connection, so many things started to make sense and the borders between everything I learned dissolved. I dance to be one with nature, in an age where we are more and more forgetting our connection to it. My body was screaming for it. I found a connection between studying water and waving (popping) and floor work, as well as contemporary movement, relaxation and how to build bridges between all of them. (Also thanks to the philosophical poetry of Bruno Caverna’s liquid body practice) I am bringing back the street dance and other forms I learned back to nature. To me we are made of nature, and everything that we try is just re-packaging the patterns that already exist in the universe. Finding the links between the repeating patterns is for me poetry.
TILLT: How has nature informed your newfound practice?
As a child I was talking to plants and protecting them from destructive classmates. Years later, I was pursuing urban dance in the concrete jungle of NY where egos collide like comets, and physical, mental and spiritual pollution is rampant. I was on a one-track mind just aiming for my success/progress by all means necessary, even by pushing other people down. I was like, ’Nature? What use is that to me now?” My soul was going down the immoral and unnatural track. Then nature spoke to me again. It feels as though our civilization is totally lost, and we need to heal our (mother) earth again.
This is one of the reasons why I am based at Lake Studios Berlin where I am close to nature, while also being close to the city.
TiLLT: How now, has politics met nature in your practice?
I was in Tokyo when the earthquake and nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima happened. Ever since then I have been making satirical theatrical dance protests against the continuation of nuclear power on the streets of Japan and Germany, because behind the CO2 friendly green washing campaigns of nuclear energy lies the problem of the radioactive waste which no one wants to take responsibility since… no one can. Fighting with this theme brought me to Finland to collaborate with Finnish street/contemporary dancer Sara Braun to create the piece “Mr. Green”. It is a contemporary dance protest against the dangerous new nuclear power plant to be built and the people’s inactions and acceptance towards it.
So much of politics and everyday human behavior are still just based on money and gain, with very little love to nature and people. It is up to the people to push for new standards to our corporations, governments and people around us. I choose art to do this.
I also did a protest piece about the sexual slavery conducted by the Japanese military in WWII and now working to organize anti racism dance actions with children in Germany before Neo-Nazi parties win more seats in the coming election.
Kazuma Glen Motomura (bodypoet)
Half Japanese half Zimbabwean/South African. Trained in martial arts, street dance and contemporary dance theater, Kazuma seeks to communicate beyond culture and form (ality). Kazuma works in a versatile wide spectrum; performing in close collaboration with political and environmental activists, touring with internationally renowned choreographers, creating in cutting edge commercial work, teaching, and dancing alone in nature... He has worked with Richard Siegal (Forsythe Company), Takayuki Fujimoto (Dumbtype), Tsuyoshi Shirai and many others around the world. He is a co-founder of Lake Studios Berlin and continues to create pieces with a satirical environmental element. Invited by the Goethe Institute Novoribirsk, to create an ecological dance piece and perform solo work “Theory of Evolution”. Kazuma shares his practice with TiLLT for its 5thEuropean issue.