Tuesday 1 September 2015

Performance Report: Shinjuku Awa Odori

I managed to get my outfit washed and dried, just. It was a cool weekend, which made Koenji very comfortable, but was less than ideal for laundry.

So today was the second time we'd been invited to perform at Shinjuku Awa Odori, a popular Tokushima themed restaurant with live shows every night. Under normal circumstances, the Koenji Awa Odori Association teams would perform there in rotation, but as they were all tied up for the weekend, they reached out to some other 'seicho' teams to fill in. Remember how I mentioned preferential treatment?

Unlike regular festivals, this was a private performance which customers were effectively paying to see, so it comes with a different set of considerations. The performance space is quite narrow which meant we had to limit our numbers. We only had about 5 minutes of actualy performance time, and had to schedule in time to teach the dance, give out prizes, and create a photo opportunity for anybody that wanted to be seen with us. The order of proceedings is all decided in advance, which allowed us only limited flexibility, but that's in no way unreasonable. They have a pattern that works, and it's up to us to accommodate it.

As our usual routine is about 10 minutes long and we only had 5, we had to rethink it a little. We quickly got changed into costume and that left about half hour to figure it all out. We were all experienced members though, so it wasn't hard to find 5 minutes worth of fat to trim.

Shinjuku Awa Odori
This much space
Space considerations were another factor of course, but we could mostly work around those by being really careful.

By 18:30, we were ready to go, and pulled off the partially improvised routine with little issue.

We did feel it was a little lacking though, so we revised and reinstated some parts during the break between performances. By 20:30, we had a solid idea of a much better routine, which went smoothly... for the most part.

Well, there was a miscommunication beween one of the dance parts and the musicians, that left them waiting for a cue that never came. It was unfortunately quite awkward, like 25 seconds of dead air on the radio. Still, once things got back underway, I'm sure the audience forgot all about it.

After the 20:30 performance had ended and a prize for best dancer had been awarded to a happy audience member, the secondary room out back had several tables of guests seated, so we repeated the process back there for their benefit. Rather than performing on a single stage though, it had two stages spaced a couple of meters apart and a moderately wide isle, which brought a whole new dimension of space consideration. With a little thought though, it practically rescripted itself, and we were able to perform the entire piece without a hitch.

With both part 2 performances, dance off, awards, and photos finished, it was already 10 o'clock, so I honestly don't know where the time went. It was overall a very good experience though, and the closeness we all felt with the audience was much more pronounced than at festivals—it was like hanging out with old friends, almost.

Next performance is next Sunday, by invitation of the Indonesian Embassy!

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