In April, Amherst Ballet received a grant from the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation for their project, “Blossoming Words, Blossoming Movements.”
This project features the descriptive capacity of Japanese tanka poems and augments it with dances. Tanka is a genre of classical Japanese poetry with the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure.
For this project, Prof. Stephen Forrest of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UMass Amherst selected six poems from the seventh to tenth centuries that portray the beauty of various flowers.
AB instructor Junichi Fukuda, a native of Japan and internationally active choreographer, has created a dance to these poems and has been rehearsing it with AB Advanced and Intermediate students, Cara Buchanan, Zoe Giles, Noe Rueschemeyer-Bailey, and Maya Sessions.
Originally, the dance was to be presented at public schools accompanied by a short lecture on tanka by Prof. Reiko Sono of EALC. With school closure under the social distancing order, however, the presentations have been postponed to fall.
Despite the disruption, the project will bring together two different kinds of art from two different parts of the world and promote understanding and appreciation of beauty and diversity via the performance produced by AB instructor and dancers.