This morning Ava and I drove up to Katsumoto to have a special fan dancing lesson with a renowned teacher, Fujiyama-sensei. He is over 70-years-old, though he really doesn’t look a day over 50, and incredibly famous and talented, so it was an honor to be able to get critiqued by him.
And let me tell you, did he critique.
Sometimes I’m glad I’m a writer, because it’s given me some thick skin. And I think that our wonderful usual teacher, Graceful-sensei, knows us too well, so she isn’t as strict with us as she is with her other students. In other words, it was nice to hear his prompts and yells of, “Bigger arms! Slower! Hold it! Kneel lower! Keep your elbows in! KEEP YOUR ELBOWS IN!” etc., etc. I certainly think it improved my terrible interpretation of 舞子はん, and it especially made me more aware that yes, I really do need to start practicing more than once a week. Considering that our performance is the end of the month. AHHHH!
Fan dancing is so interesting because it’s such an insight into Japanese culture. I joke about it: “Hey, be a real woman and keep your knees together,” or “I get to bend my knees 90 degrees because I’m as tall as a man.” But really, while Graceful-sensei explained that our movements must be 静かな, or calm and quiet, I think there’s also a very potent element of coquetry involved in these dances. Graceful-sensei often tells us to lower our shoulders when we tilt our head, all the better to show off our slender necks. And we’re constantly supposed to look over our shoulders at the audience and turn slowly–some real Eva Braun action. It’s a subtle sexuality (incredibly different from Flamenco), but there nonetheless.
Really enjoying myself with it, even though it’s hard. (Today I learned that I have to do a real and true squat, like I’m sitting in a chair, for a solid 20 seconds. My thighs can’t take it!) Officially crazy nervous about the performance coming up, though!
And 可笑しい means “ridiculous,” “silly,” or “strange.” It’s one of Graceful-sensei’s constant phrases. “Don’t hold your arms that way, you look ridiculous.” “You’ll look strange with your hand like that.” “Now you’re just being silly.”