Yayoi Hirano is fluent in the language of movement.
The Vancouver-based stage performer has spent the last 30 years travelling the world performing and teaching Western and traditional Japanese dance and mime. She said wherever she’s on stage the smallest gesture can be interpreted very differently.
“There are so many small, little movements. It’s so different [and] you don’t think about it,” she said.
“For example, you say, ‘Goodbye,’ and then you wave your hand. But waving your hand itself is so different in Japanese and European and North American.”
Being aware of those little differences are important for a stage performer to reach an audience and make an impact, Hirano said, especially when those audiences comes from different cultures or have different frames of reference.
“The emotions are the same, but the small details are different and how you connect with the audience is a little bit different from Japan and other countries, so I’m always looking for how I can adapt my Japanese heritage to another country’s understanding,” Hirano said.
“Although we are different heritage or different culture, you can understand what you mean in your movement, so that’s what I’m always looking for.”
It’s a search that began in the late-1980s, when the drama school graduate and first mime artist to receive support from the Japanese Ministry of Education began travelling to European and Asian festivals. Hirano’s first North American tour brought her to Expo 86 in Vancouver. She moved to the city in 2002.
Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society has invited Hirano to present a workshop called Body Movement and Basic Mime for Performers at the Rotary Fieldhouse on Jan. 14. The class is open not only to dancers, but to anyone who expresses themselves physically on stage, like actors and models.
Hirano said her seminar will cover concepts that relate to multiple performance disciplines, like how to be more relaxed on stage and how that can help bring more energy to a performance.
“If you have too much tension … then your expression is getting smaller. So I consider getting rid of too much tension from everybody and then how to relax on the stage, how to express naturally,” she said.
“So I’m hoping [the participants] understand how to be yourself on the stage.”
WHAT’S ON … Yayoi Hirano’s workshop Body Movement and Basic Mime for Performers takes place at the Rotary Fieldhouse on Sunday, Jan. 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m Registration is $15.