Yosakoi is a style of dancing that originated in the 1950’s in the island of Shikoku, Japan. The energetic dancing and vibrantly coloured costumes quickly made Yosakoi dancing a popular and iconic staple of festivals all over the country. Usually performed ingroups, Yosakoi is a fusion of traditional and modern dance that is easy to participate in and attracts performers of all ages. The Soran dance is a type of Yosakoi originating from Hokkaido, that has now become popular and is widely enjoyed.
Everyone from Japan would have seen, if not participated in, Yosakoi dance at least once before. Yosakoi is one of the activities of the Japan Club of Sydney (JCS), and we have interviewed the leader of their dance team. The team’s motto is “Kanzen Nenshou“, which literally means ‘complete combustion’, a metaphor used in Japan to represent giving your all, going all-out and not leaving behind any regrets.
A: We meet twice a week in Cammeray to practice our dancing. The club has over ten years of history and nowadays a wide range of members, from children to adults all have enjoy practicing the dance together.
Q: What parts of your activities do you enjoy the most?
A: As we get through a performance, it’s a time where everyone feels the same way. Yosakoi Souran is a very physical dance. Everyone’s excitement and enthusiasm builds up and it feels very satisfying to let it all out.
Q: How do you go about choosing your formation for the dance? For example, who goes in the middle?
A: I think people who put a lot of effort and practice earnestly want to be at the front. Recently, we’ve had performers as young as 5 years old, so for the sake of the future, I’d love to see them be keen and proactive.
Q: I feel there’d be a few who would say ”I want to be the centre” (laughs).
A: There’s probably some who think that (laughs). They should keep practicing hard, as there are plenty of opportunities for them.
Q: Yosakoi Soran seems like a very complex type of dancing. If you forget some choreography during a performance, what do you do?
A: You don’t worry and keep dancing! It’s when you stop dancing that it really stands out. Some mistakes do happen, so the main thing is to keep your head up and carry on to the end.
Q: What will you be bringing to this year’s Matsuri?
A: Yosakoi Soran is a dance where you shout out and express yourself with your body. I’d love to convey the feeling of zeal and enthusiasm this gives to the audience. I’m hoping people will enjoy and appreciate the original choreography and costumes we have created ourselves.
Matsuri is the where all of the work we have put in over the year gets put on display. This time we are using new music and hoping to put on a more powerful performance than ever before.
Q: From the performers’ perspective, is there something at the Matsuri that you are really looking forward to?
A: Definitely, when a lot of people come to see our dance, our level of inspiration changes quite dramatically. It creates a positive feeling of tension, which we feed off to make our dancing better. So, we’re really hoping for lots of people to come and watch us.
Q: What are the current aspirations for the Japan Club of Sydney’s Yosakoi Soranteam?
A: I think it’s to participate in more large scale events. At the moment, we are mostly doing cultural events and workshops at schools. We have had one opportunity to perform at the Opera House. Our broader vision is to capture the imagination of people who aspire to give dancing a try!
The JCS Yosakoi Soran Club have been hard at work preparing for this year’s Matsuri. Just by looking at the scenes of their rehearsal you can get a sense of their passion. Just like their motto “complete combustion”, they look like they’re going all out with their performance, and can’t wait to get on stage.