On Seeing, A Journal. #355
April 14, 2020

I have been working with dancers to make images that speak “dance,” i.e. movement, vs pose. I wondered how I the many various lighting and photographic techniques I’ve found that work for modern dance might apply to tap dancing.  Tap is a lot about sound created by rapidly moving feet.  What magic moments might I find exploring this art with a skilled and creative dancer? And, can I “hear” the sounds in “seeing” the images?

Then a marvelous tap dancer, Chikako Iwahori, showed up at out studio.



We collaborated to create images that spoke sound and movement; i.e. tap dance.



So interested I asked her many things about her work within this art form…

Q: Why do you tap dance? And what does tap dancing mean to you?

“I chose tap dance because it was very difficult for me and I found that challenge very attractive.  When I moved to NYC and had a chance to dance with a live band; the challenge and attractiveness became even bigger. To make a living in tap dance is not easy (I guess just like many other dance forms), it is almost like a gambling. But life is a big gamble and an adventure on its own. So tap dance is my biggest adventure.”



Q: What do you feel when tap dancing?

“When I tap dance and am really one with music, I feel very alive. Of course there are moments I get nervous and anxious. But when I can overcome that and let go of all my anxieties, it starts to feel like I am seeing my true self that I can not normally see even though it is part of me.”



Q: What would you like to do (dance) that you haven’t, yet.

“I took some break after giving birth to my daughter, so I would like to create new dance choreography with ideas I came up with while I was on my break.”



Q: How is tap different emotionally,  spiritually,  performing wise, in preparation from modern dance?

“Because I don’t do modern dance, I can only speak from the tap dancer’s point of view.

“I think the major difference is that a lot of tap dancers consider ourselves as musicians as well as dancer. There is a technical part of tap dance performance that has an extra layer of preparation as we also need to have a proper floor for tap, microphones, and most of the time live music. Sound is as important as the visual.

“Before I dance I often think of master tap dancers I have encountered in my life as well as musicians who’ve impacted me. They are all my emotional and spiritual guides. I think this is because I worked with many people who have worked with masters and told me many stories. They gave me a good example of giving respect to people who were here before us.”