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[Part5]Dancers in Japan showing off their moves on the net




photo:Kamba Ryouske

Office workers and anime fans alike are getting in on the craze for posting their self-made dance videos online.


Usually titled something like "I tried dancing the … ," some of these videos have already been viewed several million times. The popularity of these clips and the accessibility of the Internet are motivating people to dance who have been just watching dance videos online. Some people have even been able to make professional debuts as a result of their uploads.


A fan event sponsored by the popular Japanese video-sharing website Nico Nico Douga and held at the Makuhari Messe International Convention Center in Chiba drew huge crowds at the end of April. Even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stopped by to get a glimpse of the action.


In one corner of the convention hall, young people dressed in costumes or matching uniforms thronged a booth titled "I tried dancing (large-scale)."


"Next, let's turn our heads to face the camera in the back and dance," a dancer up on stage called out. What had moments ago been seating for the audience had suddenly turned into a huge stage for dancing.


The audience of about 1,000 people turned their heads in unison to look back over their shoulders. Sometimes hopping up and down, sometimes raising their arms above their heads, they danced in perfect, choreographed harmony as their dance was broadcast in real time over the Internet.


"The allure of 'I tired dancing' is that anyone can imitate the moves and anyone can enjoy doing it," said Sakura Narumiya from Shibuya Ward in Tokyo, who came to the event dressed as a videogame character. Narumiya started dancing about six years ago after being inspired by videos she found on the Nico Nico Douga website of people dancing to songs by young Japanese pop stars and theme songs from anime programs. Ever since then, she has been dancing in a park with her friends.


The advent of video-sharing sites has been a big factor in getting more people to get up and dance. On the Japanese YouTube site alone, there are about 700,000 videos uploaded under the tag "I tried to dance."


The nuance of lightheartedness inherent in the tag encourages anyone, including amateurs and those with less than stellar moves, to participate.



But while the object for most dancers is to have fun, some of the more dedicated participants have even been able to make professional debuts as a result of their uploads. Female pop dancer "Nabodofu@Nana" and the five-member female dance group Dancing Dolls have both made the jump to professional status and released CDs.


A group of three young women, Shimayuki, 27, Maachan, 24, and Kacchi, 25, formed the dance group Ceramicroni and copied the choreography of the Japanese popular girl group Perfume down to the smallest move. Their video quickly drew several hundreds of thousands views, and even Perfume themselves heard about the video.


"We just started dancing because we liked Perfume. I can't believe what a big deal we've become. I'm so happy," Shimayuki said.


The members of Ceramicroni, salaried employees with no previous dance experience, practiced dancing daily on their own and once a week for six hours as a group. After perfecting their abilities, they showed off their moves in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the Nico Nico Douga fan event. For a group that started dancing together only two years ago, it was an unimagined success.




INTERVIEW WITH GENKI SUDO

dance group World Order

Known for their robotic-like dance moves and businessman attire, seven-member dance group World Order is garnering attention around the globe. Founder and former mixed martial artists Genki Sudo, 35, dressed in a suit and trademark glasses, hair parted neatly to the side, sat down with The Asahi Shimbun GLOBE recently to discuss dance and the Internet.


* * *


Question: Where did World Order's trademark style come from?


Sudo: The inspiration for dressing like businessmen and performing robotic-type dance moves was derived from the idea I had that if we could express the stereotypical image of the serious, methodical Japanese businessman in a cool manner, our music and dance would also be accepted by foreign audiences.


There is no point in just imitating hip hop, jazz, and other original dance moves; I wanted to bring something typically Japanese to the fore. Some of our slow movements are derived from Kabuki and Noh.


Q: How has the Internet changed dance entertainment?


A: It used to be that if you didn't appear on television or some other major media outlet you couldn’t become known. Now, with YouTube, you are soon connected to the whole world. Thanks to the Internet, there are more options available.


Q: Why do you think the "I tried dancing" trend is so popular?

A: Karaoke motivated people to sing instead of just listen to music, and I think the "I tried dancing" phenomenon is similar in that people who used to just watch dance are now actively participating in it. It's a bottom-up arrangement, and there are a lot of interesting people coming out of it.


Q: What is the appeal of dancing itself?


A: People dance because it is fun. I believe happiness that cannot be expressed with a smile alone is expressed with the entire body through dance.


* * *


GENKI SUDO:



He is a leader of the performance dance group World Order. Born in Tokyo in 1978, he won the nationals as a wrestler during his university days. He was active in K-1 and other martial arts promotions until he retired from the sport in 2006. He formed World Order, which made its debut in 2009.


By RYOSUKE KAMBA/ Culture and Lifestyle News Section

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