SYK Youth Part 3: Checking In with the Dresser

Week 3- Checking in with the dresser

SYK Youth Dance Group,
Wynonna Ardiansyah,
Twin Cities, MN
Part 3

Hello from Sansei Yonsei Kai (SYK) Japanese dance group! Today we spent the first half cleaning up our dances and the second half getting the logistics down for our two performances on Saturday, June 6th and Monday, June 8th. For the purposes of the blog, this post will be focusing much more on the latter considering that the previous post covered the dance practices more extensively.

photo 4 (2)

Our dance director, Linda Hashimoto, and some of the girls from the youth dance group trying on their pink kimonos for the performance.

And really, the logistics of preparing for a performance is a complicated, yet fascinating process. Everyone was super excited about the costumes that ‘ll be wearing so the dresser, AKA our dance director, Linda Hashimoto went through her inventory to find appropriate ones. Considering that we’ll be performing at the Cherry Blossom Festival, she figured that a nice flower pattern would be nice for the occasion. We have loads of containers of different kimonos though so it was a challenge helping her find the right ones.

photo (51)

Each dancer has a green bag to put all their costumes and equipment in. The red and white sticks on top of these bags are dancing sticks that we’ll use in a future performance actually.

Eventually, she settled on some lovely pink, polyester kimonos (with flower patterns!) for the girls and crisp, white happi coats for the boys. We also pulled down some flower hair accesories and headbands for the group too. We then put all our equipment into green bags that everyone decorated with their names back in the first week. It makes it easier for us to put all the costumes into one bag so that we can just grab it and go on performance day.

Though we’ve got all our costumes and equipment now, we aren’t done yet. We’re missing one last step: inventory!

Inventory taking may be the least exciting, but it is probably the most crucial. Every single item of clothing and equipment that a dancer wears has to be carefully noted down. Every kimono, fan, hair accesory, sock or slipper. In fact, each item has a number on it somewhere for exactly this purpose of inventory taking.

The way we do in our dance group, we write down the descirption and number of each item next to each dancer’s name in the master list. Each of the youth in our group took turns taking inventory of their own stuff so that they know how the whole process goes down.

photo 5

The master sheet of all the costumes and equipment assigned to the dancer for this performance. We have to make these as detailed as possible.

Meticulous? Yes. It’s a very thorough process. Some might say it’s overkill but we don’t want to lose or misplace anything in the chaos that is the changing room.

SYK Youth Part 2: Dance Flurry

Week 2- Dance Flurry

SYK Youth Dance Group,
Wynonna Ardiansyah,
Twin Cities, MN
Part 2

photo 2 (3)

Running through the dances with our practice kimonos can be uncomfortable but it’s good preparation for when we perform with our real-deal, heavy costumes.

Hello from everyone at Sansei Yonsei Kai (SYK) Japanese dance group! With the stockroom cleaned up after last week’s activities we were able to get a lot more dance practice in this week!

And it’s a good thing too because it turns out that we’ll be having our first performance at St. Paul’s Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, June 6th. Then we’ve got a private performance on Monday, June 8th for the St. Paul- Nagasaki Sister City Committe (SPNSCC) and the two kite flyers, Seikoo and Akiko Nakamura who are coming in from Nagasaki for the 60th anniversary St. Paul-Nagasaki sister city celebrations. That’s all coming up in two weeks!

The great this is that the dance we’re learning right now, the Sakura Ondo, is a sweet and quick one to learn. The movements in particular are a lot of fun, not just for us dancers, but for the audience too. This dance is actually supposed to encourage audience participation, but depending on the performance stage and setup, this might not exactly be possible. That’s alright though, so long as we’re having funnad dancing well, I’m sure it will show to the audience.

photo (49)

Practicing the circle formation of the dance. We might not actually dance in this format depending on the stage layout but it doesn’t hurt to prepare, just in case.

We’re a bit pressed for time as it is, but I think we’ll be fine in the end. After all, we did a lot of practice this week and the youth are super quick learners. A flurry of dances this week to make up for the slower pace that we had last week, I guess.

It’s hard to believe that we only have one more practice until our first performance! Granted, next week will be a very laid back event and not the formal one we’ll have to do in August. Still, it would be a good experience for the youth and an opportunity for us to prepare performing on stage!

SYK Youth Part 1: A Stockroom Prep Party

Week 1- A Stockroom Prep Party

SYK Youth Dance Group,
Wynonna Ardiansyah,
Twin Cities, MN
Part 1

Hello from everyone here at Sansei Yonsei Kai (SYK)! We are an intergenerational and multicultural Japanese dance group that’s been around for over 40 years and we perform all around the Twin Cities throughout the year. With summer coming we’re excited to start the season off with a bang!

But before we can do that we need to do some preparations first!

After all, every good meal needs some prep time right? Same thing with dancing. We need to get our equipment and dance space in the stockroom all set up for practice.

And right now, well, it kind of looks like this:

photo 1 (2)

Our dance practices take place in a stockroom, but we can’t dance if it’s full like this!

All of our costumes, decorations and equipment from SYK’s performances at Festival of Nations haven’t been unpacked yet. We just didn’t have the time! There are kimonos, obis, lanterns even shoji screens laying about all over the place. It’s as if a gust of wind came in through the windows and messed up the whole place. And our stockroom doesn’t even have windows!

photo 1 (1)

One of our youth dancers in the process of folding a kimono

But that’s alright because having all this stuff becomes a great opportunity to orient new dancers into our group! For instance, we went through the process of how to fold different kimonos. After all, taking care of your costumes and equipment is important for everyone, let alone a dancer.

It was a nice, relaxing opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. This was perfect considering that we had a lot of new, young dancers who were had never been in this space or met the other dancers before. It was a very chill environment, especially considering that we put up music from our previous dances up on the boombox.

photo 4 (1)

Everyone’s working to get the stockroom cleared up so we can start practicing more next week.

Although we did do a couple of quick run-throughs of dances with the group, it was nothing too intense. Today was just one of those days where the best option was taking it nice and slow. Familiarizing new dancers into the group is a process, one that starts by integrating them into the space, the equipment and each other.