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How to Be a Contemporary Dancer and Choreographer With Fukiko Takase (The Creative Voyage Podcast S01E09)

How to Be a Contemporary Dancer and Choreographer With Fukiko Takase (The Creative Voyage Podcast S01E09)

“You shouldn't measure yourself because of somebody else. I keep telling myself: 'go back to the roots.' Maybe you become famous, maybe you get great opportunities, and maybe you dance with Thom Yorke, but that doesn't mean that you're king, or queen.” — Fukiko Takase

In this episode, I talk to Fukiko Takase, a London-based independent dancer, choreographer, and movement director. We cover topics such as the importance of nurturing your better self, advice to dancers and choreographers who are just starting, Fukiko’s work routines, the main challenges of being a contemporary dancer working today, her experience of dancing with Thom Yorke, and much more.

Biography

Fukiko Takase was born in New York and raised in Japan. She has been dancing since the age of two under her mother Takako Takase and Katsuko Orita's dance training. When she was 14, Fukiko started creating and performing her work for competitions to develop her creativity and physical capabilities. She received the Cultural Affairs Fellowship from the Japanese government, studied at Codarts Rotterdam Dance Academy, London Contemporary Dance School. As a dancer, she worked for Henri Oguike Dance Company (2006–2010), Russell Maliphant (2010), and Company Wayne McGregor (2011–2018). Fukiko danced with Thom Yorke in a music video and featured in projects for AnOther Magazine, County of Milan, Channel 4, The Brits, BBC Late Night Proms and Uniqlo. Her choreography includes Autumn Hunch and Cultivate a Quiet Joy.

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Selected Links From the Episode

Show Notes

  • Introduction [00:00]

  • Episode Introduction [00:52]

  • Fukiko’s Advice to Younger Self [02:26]

  • Advice to Dancers and Choreographers Who Are Just Starting Out [08:00]

  • The Importance of Nurturing Your Better Self [10:23]

  • Learning From Mistakes [13:01]

  • Short Episode Break – Support the Podcast [15:14]

  • Main Challenges of Being a Contemporary Dancer and Choreographer [16:04]

  • Routines of a Professional Dancer and Choreographer [26:01]

  • Dancing With Thom Yorke [28:36]

  • Advice for Being a Better Dancer and Creative Professional [35:57]

  • Episode Outro [39:38]

Full Episode Transcript

Fukiko: Maybe you become famous, maybe you’re given great opportunity, maybe you dance with Thom Yorke, but that doesn’t mean that you’re king or queen.

This is the Creative Voyage podcast, a long form interview show with the mission to help creative professionals to level up. I'm your host, Mario Depicolzuane. I'm a creative professional myself, active in the fields of graphic design, art direction, and creative consulting, working with companies such as Kinfolk, MENU, and Sonos.

Through Season One of this podcast, I present in-depth interviews with some of the world's most inspiring creative professionals, revealing the stories that shaped their lives and careers, plus actionable strategies to help take your mindset and skills to the next level. I invite you to join me on this journey

Mario: In this episode, I talk to a contemporary dancer and choreographer.

Fukiko: I’m Fukiko Takase. I’m Japanese. Well, I mean I’m Japanese inside, I’m half Latin-American. I was born in New York, grown up in Tokyo. I live in London right now, as an independent artist, dancer, choreographer, everything, movement director.

Mario: I believe dance is one of the most holistic creative outlets and I find Fukiko’s work in the domain, beautiful, genuine and inspiring. I first encountered Fukiko through the music video for Ingenue by Atoms for Peace. I love the song, the ad direction, the choreography but I never looked into who was behind it. A few years after seeing that video for the first time, I had a pleasure of watching Tree of Codes, a contemporary ballet made in collaboration between company Wayne McGregor, Jamie xx and Olafur Eliasson. To date, that's the most mesmerizing audio-visual performance I have witnessed.

Mario: During the ballet, one of the dancers looked familiar and at the end of the show, I get a hunch that might be the dancer from the Atoms for Peace video. When I got home, I looked into it. I discovered I was right and that's when I started following Fukiko's work more closely. In this episode, we're going to listen to the highlights of the conversation I had with Fukiko in August of 2018. We cover topics such as the importance of nurturing your better self, advice to dancers and choreographers who are just starting out, Fukiko’s work routines, the main challenges of being a contemporary dancer working today, her experience of dancing with Thom Yorke and much more.

Both of Fukiko’s parents are dancers and her mom, currently in her 70’s, still dances. It's no surprise then that she literally grew up surrounded by dance, spending her time backstage in wardrobes as early as age 2. She calls the studio her natural habitat; it’s the space in which she feels exceptionally comfortable. It's her playground where she can explore and experiment with confidence.

Despite dancing for most of her life, early on she didn't want to dance professionally, probably as a result of adolescence rebellion towards her parents. But something clicked when she was 14-years-old and danced as a part of the after-school dance group. She was among the best dancers, but she couldn't get the lead role since her studying was not 100% there and you had to be the “whole package” that made her got it, but then she decided to go solo and start competing as a soloist.

As Fukiko describes it, by being pushed to the corner she got that extra fire within. From then on, she knew dance will be her life's calling. I started my conversation with Fukiko asking her what would she advise her younger self when she was just starting out.

Fukiko: I think I would say, “Don't be cocky.”

Mario: Why is that?

Fukiko: I think because when you’re given first place in Grand Prix so easily that you just think, “Oh, I want to book the world. I'm so good. I don't have to work hard, because I just get good place as I get good position without working hard.” Then afterwards, like I had a moment of crisis. I realized that I wasn't good enough in an international level. My passion was great, my creativity was great, but my training wasn't good enough.

Mario: Okay, when was that?

Fukiko: This was the audition. I auditioned for NDT 2. They have this audition for very young dancers, like they audition somebody from like 17 to 20, or something, 22 or like very, very – it's a young company for Netherland Dance Theather. Yeah, I realized my ballet training wasn't good enough and I wasn't confident enough in ballet. That really knocked me down. I was really disappointed and of course, I wanted my parents to be proud of me, but I couldn't really answer that. I couldn't really show that. That was good in a way. I needed that. I needed to know where I was and I needed to know that I shouldn't be cocky. Like I should just work hard, you know?

Mario: Yeah. Do you think you've learned that lesson?

Fukiko: I mean, in some way you realize that you're not better than anyone, or anyone's better than you. I don't do it so much anymore, but you shouldn't measure yourself because of somebody else. I keep telling myself like, “Go back to the roots. Maybe you become famous, maybe you’re given great opportunity, maybe you dance with Thom Yorke and maybe you do this and that, but that doesn't mean that you're king, or queen, or somebody important.”

Fukiko: You're important to yourself, or somebody who you love, but that doesn't define you as this perfect person, or special person. It's not. I'm human like everybody else and I'm no better than anybody else. I don't want to forget that. I face that sometimes talking to great, I don't know, director or choreographer and they are so super famous and they do great work. You have so much respect to them. I'm not saying like everybody, that this is just the only view of encounter, but it's impossible to talk to because their ego is so high up that I cannot talk to them in a human level in a way, because for them it's all about money, for them it's all about who they know, who they work with, who they are friends with, who they have lunch with, how many houses they have and great car they drive and pretty wife. You have to be human. When I see that, I don't want to be like that, you know?

Mario: Yeah. Does that come naturally to you to keep yourself in check? How do you manage yourself in that way? Because sometimes it can be easy to fall into that ego trap.

Fukiko: Totally, totally. I think in a way, growing up in Japan helps not to be there, not to be so full of ego. But on the other hand, having this culture of Japan kind of suppresses me from to give my best of me. Sometimes I feel like, “Oh, I'm not good enough, so I have to work harder.” You can't just keep telling yourself, “I'm not good enough.” You have to value yourself. You've been there, you’ve done that, you worked so hard and that should be your confidence, that should be your value, that should be your power.

Mario: We have to balance those two things.

Fukiko: Yeah, yeah. Totally.

Mario: Because otherwise, you compromise your work actually.

Fukiko: Oh yeah.

Mario: Yeah, you can’t give the best of yourself.

Fukiko: Every time I make work, I feel like, “Oh, my God. That's the best idea I've ever done. That's the best thing I've ever done.” You have to feel that way. You should be feeling that way when you create something. Then you move on to the next thing and you face another thing. “The thing I make last time was great back then, but now I'm facing the challenge again and I have to feel the same way in what I'm facing.”

I think it's safe to say that Fukiko is in her prime as a professional. At the time of this conversation, she was dancing for the company Wayne McGregor and worked on a range of amazing projects as an independent dancer, choreographer, and movement director. Even though she's humble and struck by it, she's unmistakably an inspiration to many young dancers and choreographers. I was curious to hear what advice Fukiko would give to that new talent entering into this creative field.

Fukiko: I think, I would say never give up, because it's a hard industry. Very, very, very hard industry. You do a hundred auditions and maybe you don't get a job. It's brutal. If you like they judge you and you feel you failed, but it's up to you really. Just don't give up. If you love it, you have to pursue, you have to fight. The passion is the only thing that keeps this industry, even the passion from people who maybe not couldn't make it, but we need that. That's why we're here and really try as much to help each other, because otherwise, who's going to help us?

Mario: Yeah.

Fukiko: I think artists, we are in a very strong position, powerful position, but very vulnerable position as well, because art is not going to influence finance, or politics, It’s not going to directly affect anything that might matter to most of people. That's why, hence why it's really important. It's the space, space other than that, and maybe say yes. Say yes to everything in the beginning. Just say yes to everything and you never know.

Mario: So being open to opportunities?

Fukiko: Yeah. Where I am sometimes like, I have to say no sometimes. If you just started, try everything. You shouldn't decide before. Try everything and see if you like it, see if you're good at it. I will say believe in yourself, because that's the only thing that really kept me going. However I behave, however I say, whatever I do, I had this unexplainable belief, or confidence in me. I believed in me and that really helped. In the end of the day, it's your ass onstage. It's not your mom, it's not your sister, it's you. You believe in yourself. You have to.

From the very start of our conversation, I noticed how thoughtful Fukiko was about not just being good at what she does professionally, but overall aiming to be the best person she can be. I found that refreshing and inspiring. Here, Fukiko talks about how she goes about nurturing her better self.

Fukiko: In some way, I mean it's the soul level. It's not only the physical appearance. It's this purity and innocence of this soul. When you go back to the roots and you stripped everything that you cover yourself up with, then you're sort of like a baby. It's a white, blank beautiful things sort of. That's really important to actually, to understand the nature of us in a way, but at the same time, it's important that you have to protect yourself.

Mario: Yeah. So how do you do that? How are you working on yourself to reveal your better self, or your truer self?

Fukiko: I think to practice every moment that to be not judgmental and to understand that it's actually not them. When you encounter, sometimes when you go to some facility and they go like, “Oh, this is too many people, so you're going to have to wait in the queue. We’re going to cut the queue and you have to wait, wait, wait.” Then we are like, “Oh, but our friends are inside.” Suddenly they’re offensive. You just don't feel good about that. You feel awful. You don't mean to stress anybody out, or you are not arguing anything but they are already in the state of this argumentative and offensive.

Fukiko: Then I tell myself, “It's not them, it's the environment they are in and they're very stressed and they're not happy.” Really, it's not really about them. It's not them. It's the situation and the frustration and to actually to understand in a bigger scale, instead of just personalizing everything. I think that really helped for me. I mean, you have some days that I feel awful about it, but then I want to be the first one to apologize. “I'm sorry to make you feel this way and I understand where you're coming from and I hope you feel better.” That practice, it's not about competition. I think we all have to learn to live together.

Mistakes are a part of the process, but sometimes it can be easy to get hung up on them, or even worse, become paralyzed by the potential of failure. However, that's usually where the most significant learnings and rewards reside. I've talked to Fukiko about how she handles those situations and if there was any specific failures she experienced and what she learned from those.

Fukiko: It's really important to live your life, I think to learn the lesson. I'm full of mistakes. My life is full of mistake and myself is full of mistakes. But I embrace them. It's part of me and I'm not ashamed. It's part of it.

Mario: How do you, I guess over time it becomes easier, but when you have a mistake when you do something, or you fail, how do you initially go through that? How do you reframe it? Is there certain practices you do to make yourself value it, appreciate it, go out of the funk phase?

Fukiko: Yeah. It’s hard. It's hard to recover sometimes. Try again and don't do the same mistake, I think. Every mistake is a blessing in a way.

Mario: Yeah. Was there a specific situation when yeah, something like that happened, but then it was actually a blessing, so it lead you to something even better, or to some lesson that you had to learn?

Fukiko: Yeah. Actually, I got kicked out from Rotterdam. I learned a lesson from that school that kicked everybody out. But it was my fault as well. I was so homesick. It was my first year in abroad and I was 17. I was just so homesick. I was just so homesick that I didn't attend enough class. I was just crying at home and I didn't go to school. Up until then, I had my mom to actually tell me what to do. Suddenly, I had no one to tell me what to do. I feel comfortable just crying a home, rather than going to school. Then I got kicked out.

Fukiko: I learned a lesson, “Okay. Try again.” I came to London and I went to school every day. You just don’t repeat the same things. Just suck it up. You're homesick, but you suck it up. It's fine. Just do it. 

Hey, friends. You're listening to the Creative Voyage Podcast. We are roughly in the middle of this episode, so it's time for a short break. There's no team behind the show. It's solely produced and edited by me, Mario. I don't have any sponsors, and I have no plans to add any. Nevertheless, I can use all the help I can get growing the show. If you like what you've heard so far, there's three simple things you can do for me and future episodes. Number one, review the show on Apple Podcasts. Number two, tell a friend and share a link on social media. Number three, visit the shop on creative.voyage/shop and support the show by buying bespoke Creative Voyage Products. Thanks everyone. Let's get back to the show.

At this point in our conversation, I've asked Fukiko to share what she thinks are the main challenges of being a professional dancer and choreographer working today.

Fukiko: Dancing is basically you. It's yourself on stage and you have to dance your guts out. You're so exposed and yeah, that's what I wanted to add on the question before. That's why it gets harder. You take everything personal. Then you become professional, the challenge is basically managing your time. You know, I have three projects going in a future, which as a movement director and choreographer and at the same time, I'm a dancer and the challenge, of course to manage the time is very, very difficult because I'm always not here. I'm always abroad and you have to communicate with people all over the world and manage your time to actually try to see them, to have a proper meeting, to be in certain places at certain times.

Fukiko: Also the challenge is to actually anticipate the work that you will be making. You have to decide which theater, you have to decide what kind of lighting you want, you have to decide – even before, you have to decide a title, you have to decide. I mean, of course, like you've been thinking about it for like a year and two years about that. Still, you don't know what you're making. You basically don't know, but you have to make decisions year in advance. So that's really challenging for me, like everything works out in the end. That's my belief and that's what's been happening in my life. So fingers crossed. You'd be like that, but to actually, to anticipate your product in other ones, that's a very challenging for me.

Mario: For a lot of projects, you have to apply to certain theaters, or to get certain financial support and then you have to define a lot of things even before you made it? Is that what you're trying to describe?

Fukiko: I'm in a really good position, to be honest. I've been given the opportunity, so I don't have to gather the money by myself. That's another challenge I think a lot of people are facing and I probably have to face it in the future. That's very hard, like fundraising and all that. But for me, it's more the creative side of making decision of, “Okay, let's do this on this theater with this many dancers and this element and the environment I want and the length of the piece.” I mean, maybe not so much the length of the piece, but what prop that you want. I mean, like little things could move, but the big things, like which theater that you’re going for what kind of collaborator you want in. Those things to actually to see the future even before and yeah, you work it out in the end, but to actually decide what it is beforehand before even you are in the studio, it's challenging for me.

Fukiko: In the moment, I have so many ideas and I could try this, try that. But before, I'm actually working it's very hard to make a call, make decision of this is what I want, this is what it is. I have this idea. I have this vision, but it's not the actual things. Also, you actually have to sell the idea even before the product. That's hard.

Mario: To whom do you most often have to sell it to? For example, in your field?

Fukiko: Well, the money people, I guess one.

Mario: Who are those in your industry?

Fukiko: There's a lot of sources that you can find. I mean, you can find private donor maybe, or you can find the organization, or you can find – I mean, like the Arts Council, it's a huge founder in England. I mean, I'm so lucky that I don't have to do that. I'm really maybe rare artist that I don't have to go through that, but I know a lot of my friends are pulling their hair out to actually write the applications, just stick your head in a computer and just pop it away.

Mario: Why you don't have to do that? Why are you in that position?

Fukiko: I don't know. Somehow it comes to me now.

Mario: Okay. You're basically getting opportunities.

Fukiko: Yeah, yeah. Maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon. At that moment, I'm like this. I'm on a roll. Also, I still dance. I'm still a dancer. Half of the year, I'm dancing. I'm focusing on my dancing. Half of the year, I'm focusing on my own thing as a choreographer. Challenging. I mean, my personal challenge is to balance that, because if I just choreograph, then I might not move so much, then I don't have proper training. If I just movement direct, then I'm not moving all day. Like to keep yourself in shape, not to get injured, those things it's a slightly different – I mean, totally different challenge. 

Mario: We look at the financial side of the industry, is it like a possibility to work as an independent dancer and choreographer? Is that something that's attainable?

Fukiko: Yeah, absolutely.

Mario: I mean, in which way? Do you also have to be like associated with a dance company, or you do not have to? Do you need different sources? Because for example, in a music industry it seems like you now need all these different types of income, both the music sales, but the merchandise and the gigs and maybe sponsorships and people who are buying rights to have your music in a commercial. Then when you're going to combine all of that, you can make a decent living. How is it with dance?

Fukiko: Yeah. I mean, dance with Wayne’s company, it is always right when there’s a certain show that's coming up, then you get some percentage to the collaborator. Then a lot of jobs I do, they don't give you any and even a commercial job, it's a buyout. There's not much of that for dance. Yeah, so you're going to have to negotiate your ass. I mean, totally negotiate. You're going to have to tell them double or triple, because you're not going to get any rights, you're not going to get – that’s the first thing you have to make sure.

Fukiko: I mean, it's very possible and I know so many people, independent artists as a dancer, choreographer is successful. Yeah, I mean, you still have to keep working. You also have to look, but you also have to put yourself out there. Maybe partially, because I'm still working for a company. A lot of people retire and they do their own thing, but I'm doing them both, so that really helped for me to actually get the opportunity because I'm putting myself out there. I mean, at the same times, I have to coordinate the time and a lot of times that it doesn't work out. I'll be in Russia, but this is in Germany, and so I can't make it. That happens, good and bad.

Mario: You work in a field which entails a lot of – it's like a public performance, it's you, it's very personal as well. Especially if you're trying something new, the stakes can be high and it can be physically and mentally exhausting. So I'm curious, how do you manage that? Do you have a certain internal self-talk, or how do you have any tactics, or routines which help you to overcome those challenging moments?

Fukiko: I think, speak to my mom. Speak to my mom or my teacher. I mean, speak to somebody that you know that you can get a different angle because you can think about it as long as you want. But sometimes you need to think from a different angle and the solutions it's there. There's always a solution, there's always something that’s going to work out. You need help. If you need help, you ask for help, I think. That really helped for me.

Mario: It’s yeah, seeking advice from mentors.

Fukiko: Yeah.

Mario: What would you say is a thing that you're, let's say struggling with the most right now?

Fukiko: Emailing. So much emailing. That’s what I’m struggling with, I guess. I mean, maybe that’s a stupid thing to say, but communication can be really madness sometimes.

Mario: Why is there so much emailing?

Fukiko: Because this is like, it never ends. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just not good at e-mailing. Yeah. But you know, I get it done. I get it done.

Mario: Yeah. It’s just like e-mailing, you know, just about projects? There's so many moving pieces or?

Fukiko: Yeah, projects, or contracts. Yeah, because I do work in different countries, so I got the issue of tax as well. These boring things. Yeah, because you are everything, right? I'm doing everything myself. I’m negotiating the fee and I’m deciding who I work with and stuff like that. These logistic things that yeah, but those thing, like I do made myself. Yeah, that's really challenging because you're everything; dancer, you’re a choreographer, you’re a producer, you’re admin, you’re somebody looking after dancers at the same time. A little thing, like boring things that adds up, you know, it adds up.

A work of a professional dancer, like any creative, takes much more time than merely doing the activity which is implied by the title. I was interested in hearing what makes Fukiko’s workdays both fun in those less entertaining parts of it.

Fukiko: If I'm not touring and rehearsing at the studio, you'll be like, you start from 10, you have a warming up class, either ballet or contemporary for hour and a 15 to hour and a half, then you have break, 15 minutes break. Then you have morning rehearsal until about 1:30, 1 and you have a one hour lunch. Then you come back an hour later and you dance until 6. More or less, how many hours? I don’t know, 8 hours, 8 hours of dancing.

Mario: Okay.

Fukiko: Some people do more training than that, but yeah.

Mario: Then on top of all those things, you said you have also some other projects.

Fukiko: Yeah.

Mario: And emails and maybe social life.

Fukiko: I know. It’s so hard to balance your life. You also want to go for dating or something, but forget about it. Okay, no time for boys. If we are on tour, it’ll be slightly different schedules. I mean, every company does different things. I mean, first of all you have to travel to wherever and normally we have a traveling day rest. If it's a very long journey and you have a day off if we go to America or something, that you need to adjust to the time zone. So you rest the next day and you get into the theater the following day.

Fukiko: Normally, because the show starts from 7, 8. If it's late then it's 9 or 10. You start the day later, so you have laying in the morning, but you finish everything at like the earliest 9:30 in the night. You more or less working for a long time. Then from the following show, from the second show, you only start from afternoon like 4 p.m. or something and you finish at what? 9:30, 10:00. So you work less from that, so you can maybe do sightseeing if you want.

Fukiko: A lot of people do, but I normally don't have energy. I prefer to stay in bed and save energy. So it depends on the show, I guess. If you have an easy show, then you have time.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I first encountered Fukiko's work through the Atoms for Peace music video, which was choreographed by Wayne McGregor and starring Thom Yorke and Fukiko. I'm a huge Thom Yorke fan. Because of that video and later on the contemporary ballet Tree of Codes, I became a fan of Fukiko as well. Towards the end of our conversation, I had to indulge myself and ask Fukiko about her experience of dancing with Thom Yorke.

Fukiko: It's still quite vivid for me like the day. It was on a Valentine's Day. I believe it was – when was it? Five years ago, wasn't it? Like 2013?

Mario: Yeah. I think, yeah.

Fukiko: Already. Yeah, Valentine’s Day. Yeah, I remember that day. I got picked up by cab and we were shooting at Greenwich Laban Centre. It’s just like a dance school and they have a theater inside it. It's a cute the little theater. It's a good size. Then, so we had our suits tailor-made from like two months ago, or some three months ago something, but the suits took very long time to make. Obviously, it's tailor-made and they have to fit it many, many times.

Fukiko: I mean, I had such a great time going to Seville Road and I keep going to the gentleman's tailor-made, tailor shop. I still have suits with me.

Mario: Oh, nice.

Fukiko: Yeah, it's such a great, great, great suits. I only wear them for very important occasion and I don't wear them for things at the same time, obviously. Yeah, it's a great, great beautiful suits. Yeah, but we have the issue with my shirts, because the shirts was too big on my neck and Julie, Thom’s manager, she basically sew my neck, back of my neck to make it smaller and yeah, and she did it. Manager did it, you know? She's so sweet and she's so nice. I always invite her for the show actually.

Fukiko: There was a makeup artist there, but somehow they wanted me to do the makeup. I was like, “So I was like okay.” I did my usual makeup for the performance, but not so much. Not too strong. I just asked the makeup artist to do my eyeliner. She gave me a great hair grip to – for my hair not to be so messy. Then yeah, an hour later, I kind of like came in. Before that, Thom was like, “Oh, which shoes do you want?” So there was two option of trainers, like a spring coat, white trainer, a basic one and the other one was grandson from the leather shoes that we were wearing. In the end, we decided to wear these leather shoes.

Fukiko: Because we were dancing in it, so I was working it out from one week before, I was wearing on the street to make it softer.

Mario: Oh okay.

Fukiko: Yes. It wasn't ready for the performance. Then it was so relaxed. It was just so relaxed up there. The atmosphere was so relaxed. It was just only people who needed to be there. Us, the director, he had a great leadership, but it wasn't really overwhelming. It was just he's there and just telling and let's restart it from beginning sequence. Basically, Wayne made it on the spot.

Mario: Was there any rehearsal, or is just that one day?

Fukiko: One day, six hours.

Mario: Oh so that was made like, you just came there and –

Fukiko: Yeah, six hours.

Mario: Before that, you never danced together or?

Fukiko: No, no, no. We met at the tailor shop and we just chat. But it really wasn't anything like rehearsal, or anything like that. Wayne some trades and we learned it and we shoot like 30 second by 30 second, or 15, like the slot at the time. Yeah, it was just so smooth. Towards the end at the very ending we are like, “Oh, okay. What should we do now?” We explore sort of all the options and Wayne asked Thom, “What do you think?” Then Thom goes, “I think the shakes got to be in there.” Like Thom do this funny shakes in a concert. That's what came from. Yeah. That was Thom's idea to shake towards the end. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fukiko: I mean, of course the idea was there from months ago. There's two people and is it him? Is it her? Is a one person? Is it two people? These kinds of things and then dancing together. That was the idea. The idea was there, but then really it came together on the day for me. I'm sure they had a vision already, but yeah. What's amazing was that they were editing on the spot already.

Mario: Oh, okay.

Fukiko: Yeah. I mean, shooting was postponed for about, I don't know, how many months, like two months or something, because Thom's wife at the time was very, very sick. Yeah, so he just couldn't be present. That's why it was done in February and they had to edit on the spot and a few days later it was released.

Mario: Okay, so it was just like a super quick production.

Fukiko: Yeah, it turned out to be. Yeah.

Mario: For me, it's so beautiful. I watch it often.

Fukiko: Oh thank you. It’s my favorite as well. Yeah, it's like a treasure in my life.

Mario: Yeah. It does look it was very, not easy, but it looks it was very natural.

Fukiko: Yeah, organic.

Mario: Organic and with the good chemistry, so I'm glad to hear that it was actually like that. 

Fukiko: Also, when I got this offer I was at the opera – I was at the Royal Opera House and we were performing that day with the Wayne’s company. I think it's been two years at the time in a company. Then Wayne just walked over, walked towards me and then he said like, “Oh, would you like to dance with Thom Yorke?” He asked and I was like, “Okay.”

Fukiko: I didn't really know Thom Yorke back then. I grown up in totally different culture. I knew his name. I knew Radiohead, but it wasn't the thing that I listened to. So I was like, “Yeah, sure. Okay. I’m around.” Yeah, it was just so casual. Then I realized the altitude of it much later on. I told in my colleagues, “Yeah, I’m dancing with Thom Yorke apparently.” They go like, “What?” I’m like, “What do you mean? It's like artist, it's a singer.” She’s like, “Yeah, but it’s Thom Yorke.” That was actually good things, because if I were starstruck then I don't think I'll be able to do anything organically, right?

We've come to the very end of my conversation with Fukiko. I try to wrap up every episode with closing takeaways in a form of actionable, or inspirational advice for my guests. Here's what Fukiko shared with me. 

Fukiko: I think I said this already, but I think to live your life, I think, I had this experience of being choreographed. I was a dancer and choreographer was like a very, very young artist. He's very, very talented. I’m not going to say the name. He’s very, very talented, but I was offended. I was very, very offended that he hasn’t even lived his life. It was about the matter of death and life. It's okay. It’s a important topic, but I was offended. “How dare you? How dare you? You don't even live – you haven't even lived.”

Fukiko: Maybe it's not about the age sometimes. You could just feel it. Because we perform on stage for how many thousand people and we represent them in a way. I’m her, she's me. How can I express without knowing it? Every little devastation, sadness, happiness and love it's part of you. If you don't experience that, how dare you dance on stage and represent them? So really, it's so important to live and experience all this emotion, all this sadness, all these mistakes and so you can express and you can be compassionate. You can be them, do you know what I mean?

Fukiko: I think there's so many hype about flexibility, technique, how many turn you can do, how high you can jump, and how fast you can move. But really, it comes to, you know, if you really stripped everything down, it’s the human. It's what we are in the human level, in a soul level and it's very, very important that you live. You live, like you say honest, honestly and you feel as much as you can. I think we forget that, because of course, you want to make money, you want to be famous and you forget that. 

Fukiko: Also, I had this question from a young student that, “Where do you get your inspirations from?” I was like, “Okay, yeah, you can see as much as you want like a museum and read a book, watch the film, you can do all that, but how about yourself? If you're not ready, if you're not in the state of taking all that in, it's pointless.” It's very important to be in a right state of your mind and position that you're in in relation to the world in a way how you see the world, how you see things, I think that's really important for me.

Fukiko: You can be ambitious about taking all the information, the inspiration but you need to be ready. You need to make yourself ready for that, I find. I think to work together, to support each other yeah, we need us, we need each other. It's easy to keep your fortune and not to share, because maybe you suffer before, but it comes back to me if I give, in a way. I think that's very important.

For everybody at home keeping score, I believe we touched on a lot of useful information for anybody out there interested in contemporary dance, choreography, and growth as a creative professional.

I want to thank Fukiko for coming on to the show. She’s a wonderful and inspiring individual and I’m grateful for the fresh insights she shared with me. Links to Fukiko’s work, as well as to some other things mentioned during our conversation can be found in the show notes at creative.voyage/podcast.

You can follow @creative.voyage on Instagram, and you email me directly on hello@creative.voyage. Tell me what you think of the show. If you haven't, already be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends. Take care.


What was your favorite lesson or a quote from this episode? Email me!

Five Quick Questions with Fukiko Takase

Five Quick Questions with Fukiko Takase

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Five Quick Questions with Merijn Hos