Training -> Dispatch Program designed to fundamentally change the future of dance reviewing - EU・ジャパンフェスト日本委員会

Training -> Dispatch Program designed to fundamentally change the future of dance reviewing

Takao Norikoshi|Dance Critics [Training -> Dispatch] Program, JAPAN DANCE PLUG Co. ltd.

●An unprecedented program to train professional dance critics

There are now many training programs for young dance critics around the world. In addition, theaters and festivals are voluntarily taking the initiative to train the next generation of critics. However, compared to artists, training and development programs for dance critics have been largely neglected. This is particularly true in Japan.
‘Dance Critics [Training → Dispatch] Program’ is probably the first practical program in Japan to train professional dance critics. Five people are selected from across the country through an open call. Over a period of six months, they undergo a program devised by dance critic Takao Norikoshi (including GAGA, in which they move their own bodies), with the aim of eventually sending two of them to international dance festivals overseas. This is unprecedented in Japan.
The EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee has agreed to support the costs of sending Takao Norikoshi and two participants to the festival abroad. Dance Base Yokohama (DaBY) has also given full support to the open call and lectures as a co-organizer.

International dance festivals in Japan cooperated with the project by inviting students. Hokuriku Dance Festival DX ©Takao Norikoshi

An article by Takao Norikoshi on Twitter (9 April 2023) announcing the open call for applications received more than 120,000 views in total, and the open call was widely announced in Stage Natalie News (11 April 2023). In addition, on 26 May 2023, a lengthy interview with Norikoshi was published on the web magazine ‘Ballet Channel’ by Shinshokan, publisher of ‘Dance Magazine’. It was a major topic of discussion in various quarters.

The performance assigned for submission was ‘REVISOR/Prosecutor’ by KIDD PIVOT, led by Crystal Pite, one of the most sought after artists in the world.
The five finalists chosen were a veteran ballet writer from London, a working journalist for a major newspaper, an architect, a member of staff at the Kobe Dance House and a postgraduate student. All came from different backgrounds, but all were highly competent writers.
This program was not a typical ‘writing class’, but a way of discovering their own style as a professional dance critic.
Those who lived in rural areas could join via Zoom, but only for the first session did everyone have to come together. This was because they would be taught the GAGA body method, which is now used all over the world. Critics need to know the body, not just write about it. The teacher was Ms. Mariko Kakizaki, a former member of Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company, the inventor of GAGA. She was one of the best teachers around.
In addition, in response to the ChatGPT era that has been discussed for some time, they were asked to critique the ChatGPT dance review as it was created by a human being.
They also received practical training to develop their skills, and Norikoshi taught them how to be professional critics and the latest information on dance around the world.
The project was also supported by international dance festivals in Japan such as ‘Dance. Akita’, ‘Hokuriku Dance Festival DX’ and ‘Yokohama Dance Collection’, as well as performances with DaBY to which the participants were invited. The participants wrote reviews of the festivals and gave feedback on the content.

Lecture of the program. Zoom for participants who live far away from the program. Participants from London also attended the program at Dance Base Yokohama ©︎ Dance Base Yokohama

At the end of the five lectures, participants sent in comments along the following lines.
“It was a pleasant experience because it made me realize that I had been stuck in the closed world of ‘newspaper style’ and the right answer.”
“Mr. Norikoshi’s lecture made me realize that in stage criticism it is essential to have light footwork that crosses over between journalism and criticism, and that a high degree of mobility is necessary to keep an active perspective at all times.”

This program has also been well received abroad. Norikoshi has been asked by two international festivals, the Hong Kong Dance Exchange and Macau’s “Psalm Dance Collection”, to speak about this program in 2024.

●Aerowaves’ Spring Forward Festival in Dublin, in Darmstadt

One of the key features of this program is to send two participants from the course to festivals abroad to gain first-hand experience of world dance and broaden their insights and contacts.
Takao Norikoshi chose Aerowaves’ Spring Forward Festival, which he had previously attended in Pilsen (the host city changes every year). It is a gathering of raw talent from all over Europe. Critics train their own eyes to spot new talent rather than veterans with established reputations. It is the best festival of its kind.
In April 2023, Takao Norikoshi attended the Dublin edition of the festival and met with co-directors Roberto Casarotto and Elisabetta Bisaro. They showed a deep understanding of this program and promised full cooperation. I am sincerely grateful. The travel costs were also supported by the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee’s Passport Program, details of which are summarized in a separate report.

The first group of participants are all competent and have no superiority or inferiority.
However, due to time constraints, their own wishes and the overall decision of Norikoshi, Aimi Hayashi and Sakuya Uemura have been selected to go to Darmstadt, Germany, the host city for 2024. With the support of the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee, the interviews will be conducted on the spot from 19 to 21 March 2024.
The results will be compiled into a report and a debriefing session will be held on their return.

Visited Aerowaves’ Spring Forward Festival in Dublin. ©︎ Takao Norikoshi

Now, most encouragingly, the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee has said: “Let’s send young critics abroad in five or ten years’ time, with an eye to the next ten or twenty years of dance reviewing.”
They have supported many artists over the years and understand the importance of time and continuity in nurturing the arts. Many grants are one-offs, but they provide support based on a really reliable perspective.
If the program continues for ten years, there will be 50 people who have taken the course for professionals and 20 young critics who have experience of covering the event abroad. This is enough to change the world of dance reviewing. I am proud that this program will be a source of real hope for young writers.