Report on Asia-Pacific Festival of Artists with DisabilitiesThe Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS project – Bringing people together ahead of 2020

The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS Performing Arts Group reported on its fiscal 2017 activities on April 21, 2018, at The Nippon Foundation head office in Tokyo, with artists and persons involved in the True Colours Festival held in Singapore in March participating. The Nippon Foundation Executive Director Kazuhiro Yoshikura opened the briefing, noting, “The performing arts have the ability to attract many people. As we approach 2020, we want to create a venue where persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities can come together as one.”

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The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS Performing Arts Group briefing

The True Colours Festival of Artists with Disabilities brought together artists with disabilities from roughly 20 countries, who gave top-caliber performances incorporating song, dance, and other arts. The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS project participated in two programs, both of which proved popular with the audiences. The first was titled “Onna Matsumushi,” a dance performance by Kazuyo Morita, who was born with spina bifida and scoliosis and has a prosthetic leg, and Natsumi Sadayuki. The story is based on the Noh play “Matsumushi” and expresses a message that there are no boundaries between this world and the afterworld, between countries, or between people. The type of performance is known as contact improvisation, where two people dance as partners and respond to each other’s movements to melt together into one.

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Kazuyo Morita (left) and Natsumi Sadayuki (right) perform “Onna Matsumushi”

The other program was a collaborative performance titled “Seek the Truth,” by the dance company DAZZLE and the dance team BOTAN, which is made up of seven young dancers with disabilities. This street dance with quick, precise movements was also based on a story from Japanese folklore, “Kitsune no Yomeiri” (“The Fox’s Wedding”).

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Tatsuya Hasegawa leads a rehearsal of “Seek the Truth” by BOTANxDAZZLE

BOTAN is a new dance team that was formed for the True Colours Festival, with its members selected based on auditions carried out in December 2017. One member has a developmental disability, two have physical disabilities of the limbs, and four members have hearing impairment. DAZZLE’s leader, Tatsuya Hasegawa, looked back at the rehearsals, noting, “Dancers who have hearing impairment cannot hear the music, but their other senses are strong, and they excel at matching their performance with things other than music, like breathing. They also learned more quickly than the other dancers.”

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