This time we’ve interviewed NAO, leader of the Sydney based dance team, ‘Dilated Nu’. NAO currently is working as both a professional dancer and instructor. Today NAO tells us about the team ‘Mad Unity’ – a group of his students who have come together to perform at various events.
Q: What made you begin dancing?
A: I started dancing in Japan, but came to Australia in 2005 on a working holiday. By chance, a friend I had made through dancing was also here so I took the opportunity to start dancing again.
Q: What are some good things about dancing in Australia?
A: Straight after coming here, I formed a group with my friends, we entered into shows together and were dancing in various places around Sydney and the Gold Coast. At the time, the dance scene in Australia was pretty small, so after performances ended there was always a big reaction that was really different to the one you get in Japan; that was the best thing. As it was a working holiday, we really tried to have as much fun at every opportunity possible. (laughs)
At the time I came to Australia I couldn’t speak English, but it was easy enough to communicate with people through dancing. The fellow dancers were really welcoming and nice, so we made friends easily. Without dance I would have been to shy to communicate with people.
Q: Are there times you forget your choreography in the middle of a dance?
A: There certainly is! There’s not much you can do (laughs). If you happen to forget 10 seconds worth of dancing, the first thing you do is just move your body. At a contest, you certainly get the ‘I’ve really blown it’ feeling, but otherwise you can just laugh it off.
Q: About the group you’ve formed, ‘Mad Unity’, where does the name come from?
A: ‘Mad unity’ describes the feeling of being absorbed in the moment when dancing as a team, where everybody feels as one.
Q: What was the reasoning for making a ‘street dance’ team?
A: I love to give people more opportunities to dance outside of the studio environment, for example at festivals and events. It was really about wanting to take the students to more events. It’s not a professional dancing team, so there’s a real focus on making sure all of the students are able to participate.
Q: Please tell us about Mad Unity and it’s members.
A: The team is made up of of students taking normal lessons, who connect through social media. The members vary between every event, but it’s mainly university students from a variety of countries. We usually meet once a week, but as a performance draws near, we can practice 2 or 3 times a week.
Q: Are there beginners in the group?
A: Yes, there are! Basically, there are a lot of beginners. The team’s number one focus is having fun dancing; there’s a real mix of abilities. So at the end of the day, if the all of the students were able to have a dance I’m really pleased.
Q: How do you select your music?
A: We try to pick songs that will match the event. Sometimes we can have about 4 or 5 songs and sometimes just one. We think of the choreography after picking the music. I try to pick songs to suit a certain image, but choosing is still the hardest part!
Q: Do you sometimes use songs from anime?
A: If we’re dancing at an event like an anime festival, we’ll usually pick one, or another song from Japan.
Q: How many songs do you plan to use at this year’s Matsuri?
A: At the moment we have 3 songs lined up, but we plan to add some more.
Q: What part of this year’s Matsuri are you feeling most excited about.
A: In the Mad Unity Performance, we’d like to create an environment where the audience can feel the spirit of a Japanese festival. That’s why I’m thinking I’d like to use a song with a very Japanese feeling to it. I’m also looking forward to seeing and dancing on the new remodeled stage at Tumbalong Park.
Q: From a performer’s perspective, what are you hoping for at Matsuri?
A: It would be great to have some music in between the performances! (laughs) If there’s music from an idol or animation that everyone knows, or something like that, the people who’re coming to see us will be able to enjoy themselves a bit more.
(Interviewers) Good point! The background music can really maintain the fun atmosphere, can’t it?
Q: From here, what are some of your Mad Unity’s goals?
A: I’d like to give people excitement at more and more places. Outside of Sydney, I’d love it if there are more chances to perform interstate.
Before the interviews, we got to see Mad Unity rehearsing. Seeing the students all smiling and enjoying themselves dancing was enough to make anyone feel happy! Whatever performance they’ll put on at Matsuri this year, we’re looking forward it. Thanks to NAO and everybody at Mad Unity for the interview!
Interviewers: Ayaka Onuma, Miho Tojiki
Introduction and translation: Sam Darley