Interviewed by the Japanese-Dutch news (portfolio) about Asuka Method
I visited Asuka Watanabe at the dance studio “Amsterdam Dance Centre” close to Leidseplein in Amsterdam. Asuka, she has a solid belief that I can not imagine she is yet 29 years old. I received the energy through an interview.
P: When did you start ballet? And please tell me how you came to the Netherlands.
A: I started ballet when I was 4 years old. I wanted to learn ballet abroad when I was in 2 years of high school, so i decided to quit the high school and entered Joffrey Ballet School, a famous ballet school in New York. I was just sixteen years old. At that time I could not speak English, I had difficulty adapting neither to New York nor to the school. But I managed to finish the course for a year. I am very grateful to my parents who trusted me for paying the tuition. However, New York was bit too entertainment for me at that time, I felt that I missed the sensitivity. So in 2006 I submitted an application to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and among the 10 dancers selected by video selection, I was an only girl selected at the final. This is the reason I came to Holland. I have studied at this school for two years. The lessons were very tough, the head and the body were full of ballet, there was no room to enjoy with other things at all.
P: After graduation, you decided to be a freelancer without entering the company.
A: Actually, my injuries became worse during my studies. Since I underwent the surgeries twice over 2 years, I often had to watch the classes instead of doing it. I still have pain when I continue to wear pointshoes. For that reason, I chose freelance to dance on a project basis, teach ballet and dance, not being in a company (ballet group) with hard and whole day long exercises everyday.
P: So did you start working in the Netherlands right after the graduation?
A: No, it didn’t go easy that much. There was an audition in Slovakia and I was accepted, but the contract flowed due to the 2009 economic crisis. After that, I had the opportunity to dance at the Holland Dance Festival, but the partner who danced with had a ten years experiences at NDT so I really had to work hard but I learned a lot how to be a professional. The student visa has also expired, so I had to return to Japan and I really didn’t know what to do. However I didn’t want to stay in Japan and I wanted to work abroad, so I came back to the Netherlands. I got a job to teach at the Amsterdam Dance Center (ADC) and Amsterdam Art University (AHK) etc. At first I lived with my boyfriend so I got permission to stay with a partner visa but now I have a visa on my own.
P: Please tell me about “Asuka Method”.
A: “Asuka Method” connects various people through dance and finds how you can be yourself among them. Through my experience as dancing ballet and the other dance styles I realised in the end that I was aiming for the same thing whatever the style is. In other words, each style is different, but essences and elements are the same. So I made a new dance method that eliminated the hedge, and since September this year, I have set up a class to train awareness. You get to know yourself and your body and you will be able to control your body and your movement how you like. This training also helps for the classes to learn the style. Since there is a workshop in Slovenia and at a yoga studio in Amsterdam next year, I hope to spread “Asuka Method” widely.
P: You overcame the injuries and the operations, and now you are spending a very fulfilling life everyday. Do you have any plans for the future?
A: I have been in the Netherlands for over 10 years now, but I am still 29 years old. I would like to see the world other than the Netherlands too. I want to interact with people from other countries and learn about culture. Still, I think that the Netherlands is wonderful when I see music, dance and the art. Surely grants have been cut year by year and it is not easy, but I am grateful for giving foreigners opportunities as well. Even at the academy, there are students and colleagues of various nationalities. Where talent exists, they do give the chances. I like teaching so I’d like to continue my current work for a while. I am often asked ‘why do not you become a choreographer?’, but I would like to explore new possibilities with various experiences rather than doing one thing for now.