Interview with Hiroaki Umeda: dance-tech romantic searching for a reaction

Hiroaki Umeda was certainly one of the most interesting performers I saw this year at Dance Week Festival. Being completely aware of all possibilities and consequences of our modern society, Umeda strikes you directly in your mind if you are enough opened to recognize or perceive the voices, soundz and flashing of today’s digitized generation.

You know that I was writing about him almost two months ago and I promised then to publish soon all the interviews I did with some dancers. So, the first interview from that series is here…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Hiroaki Umeda…

Photo: Fred Villemin (c)


Since you’ve studied photography and then started to work intensively with your body, what I’m interested in is how you managed to connect those two disciplines? They certainly interact on many levels…

U:
I actually drop out photography (laughs). To me it is the same thing to express something because when I was studying photography I’ve tried to find what I can’t express with photography. Actually, I think that after ten years of studying dance I find it very difficult to work only with photography and I wanted to express changes in some circumstances. Since photography doesn’t have a time and dance have a time… This is for me the main difference between dance and photography. I can’t express the same thing I want in both of them.

What do you think is right NOW more essential for your work… kinetic or visual aspect? … and why?

U:
My pieces don’t have a meaning in a way to say something. So, for me the important thing is to feel the experience of my piece. I mean, I want to stimulate the sense for the audience to feel my dance with eyes, heart, ears, so… I think… Also, I want to stimulate a reaction in their bodies.


Could you please describe me a little bit your working process from the very beginning?

U:
I make a drawing… Well, actually I am starting making music first, because music has a time. So this is very easy, to define the time. Then drawings; and dance comes the last.

So, dance is then the latest accent in you artwork…

U:
Yeah, that’s right.

Photo: Dominique Laulanne (c)


You have a strong background in ballet, hip hop and butoh which are all different in social, physical and even, psychological meanings… Can you tell me what particularly fascinates you in street culture on one hand and the subtle powerful inner silence of butoh on the other hand? How do you connect them, as different techniques or as a source of inspiration?

U:
Basically, I’m very selfish, ok? I ’steal’ everything and put it in my pieces (laughs). Actually, I use butoh because I’m only influenced by Japanese culture, something like that…


Today’s use of technology and modern urban cyber punk society seems to be something that is occupying you? Staying a human being in modern ‘skyscrapers’ oriented landscapes looks like a hard quest… it reveals many questions…

U:
Yes, yes… Because I am a human being and I am nature.

Photo: Getty Images (c)


How do you use then technology in your artwork, as an equal performer, an extended part of you or only as a tool?

U:
I use computer only as a tool. But it is possible that it can become a part of me. The most important thing for using technology in my work is to use it to expand my possibilities as dancer. But I don’t want to be used by technology. No, no.


You have started recently with blogging on your site, having a kind of your personal diary with working processes. Obviously you are supporting this kind of expression…

U:
Yeah, it’s a great tool. I want to communicate with people. Because I don’t speak about my pieces in public, so sometimes is important to put something to a web site about your work and share it with the public.

Photo: Shin Yamaga (c)


Which artists had the most influential impact on you? Do your influences include manga and anime?

U:
Yeah, I like manga and anime. I was very influenced by the Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama when I was starting studying photography. And also painting… music… For example, in painting I like the work by Gerhardt Richter.

Mr. Umeda, tnx 4 ur time!


This interview was originally posted on Personal Cyber Botanica

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