Friday, March 1, 2024

Kana Sato: Dancer to motion coach

Kana Sato is an unique founding member of Shen Wei Dance Arts. Sato is from Japan, and attended CalState College for dance. Upon commencement, she was supplied a scholarship to American Dance Competition, the place Shen Wei was a visitor artist. At the tip of the summer time, he invited her and others to affix an organization he was forming in New York, which turned her dance house for a decade. It’s the story of a profitable dance profession – however she’s shifted paths since then.

“Once I was leaving the corporate,” says Sato, “I transitioned into educating Pilates, however there was one thing lacking. I missed dancing. I missed the efficiency side of it, however my physique was getting older, and I knew that bodily I wouldn’t be capable of do the identical form of efficiency as I did. I believed possibly I may do appearing. So I signed up for a two-year conservatory with the trainer Terry Knickerbocker, who’s my boss now.” 

Sato is now a motion trainer at Knickerbocker’s appearing studio in Brooklyn. Of the conservatory program, she says, ‘It actually modified my life. I rediscovered who I used to be. On the finish of the 2 years, I used to be hooked.” 

She continues, “After that, I did some appearing right here and there, however I actually liked witnessing private progress in my friends, and saved going again to (Knickerbocker’s) scene examine lessons for 4 or 5 years. At that time, Terry was constructing his personal college. He knew about my intensive dance background and requested if I needed to show motion. That’s once I began to shadow my mentors and co-teachers Nathan Flower and Julia Crockett, who’re nonetheless residents on the studio.”

Kana Sato. Photo courtesy of Terry Knickerbocker Studio.
Kana Sato. Photograph courtesy of Terry Knickerbocker Studio.

Sato combined her dance background with new inventive enter – Williamson method, a physicality-based appearing method that she now teaches. “Despite the fact that I took a semester of this method whereas within the conservatory, it by no means actually clicked for me. However as I used to be learning below Nate and Julia, I used to be discovering how deeply efficient it might be for an actor to find themselves by motion. Nearly in an reverse approach from how we study our our bodies as dancers. As dancers, we practice ourselves to be our greatest variations onstage, to endure ache and discomfort. We practice and practice to be the very best. Typically the actor coaching, a minimum of on the primary stage, is to undo the habits that we preserve to guard ourselves. The purpose is to be messy, imperfect, human.”

Dancers and actors are each artists, however we converse completely different languages. “As a dancer, we domesticate this presence onstage, by movement or stillness, proudly owning the house. That interprets effectively whether or not on stage or on display screen. What doesn’t translate is among the armoring, the habits that assist us ‘preserve it collectively.’”

As dancers, it’s not our bodily coaching that lends itself to appearing. Actually, the rigidity of that coaching typically must be undone to be able to discover the pure physicality of a character. It’s our consciousness of and curiosity in bodily exploration that’s our energy.

“When a dancer has that hyperawareness within the delicate particulars, and their instrument is malleable and particular, that may be useful. Dancers who know how one can make bodily selections are immediately watchable. And but, dancers (myself included) are so used to doing one thing with out security or consolation within the physique. They endure such discomfort bodily, and I feel it interprets emotionally and psychologically. However human beings are wired for security and luxury; with out that, we will’t be curious. For me, as a dancer, I used to be in denial with the diploma of discomfort I used to be experiencing, whereas pushing by it. However as an actor, we should be conscious that if you find yourself uncomfortable, you aren’t embodied. The somatic, mind-body connection is essential.” 

They’re two completely different expertise. Dancers have the flexibility to endure discomfort, all the way in which as much as ranges of ache, and nonetheless dance. But when actors attempt to push by discomfort, their efficiency gained’t learn as pure. It may come off as stiff, or awkward. 

Sato additionally notes that dancers may be very unbiased of their craft – most of your coaching is spent focusing by yourself physique and efficiency. In theater fashion dance, dancing with a accomplice or group is secondary, and even then that interplay is choreographed and constant. Whereas appearing is all about interactions between individuals. Scenes require you to collaborate, responding to a accomplice’s evolving enter. Probably the most comparable instance in dance could be a structured contact improv. 

Sato underlines the sense of neighborhood that appearing and Terry Knickerbocker Studio has introduced her, of a spread that she hadn’t felt in dance firm life. The power to foster that security and closeness (and achieve this rapidly) is just not solely a part of actor tradition, it’s a part of the job. Being thrown onto set with an actor you’ve barely met and doing an emotionally linked scene with is a ability. 

Dancers completely convey their very own strengths to appearing; we simply additionally want to pay attention to our habits. For these trying to make the shift to appearing, or add it to their lengthy record of expertise, it could take some translation of your present artistry. It’d require rewiring your responses to discomfort, unworking some perfectionism, uprooting the delight that hides in independence, and opening as much as others in a brand new approach.

“My first ardour, nonetheless my ardour, is dance,” says Sato. “And it has fueled me for many years. And – I really feel my life is a lot richer now by (appearing) coaching and on this supportive function. I really like educating. I don’t remorse taking this path, not an oz.. If anybody is considering transitioning into appearing, or including appearing coaching to their dance coaching, it’s incredible.”

By Holly LaRoche of Dance Informa.

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