Kazuma Glen Motomura, half Japanese half Zimbabwean/South African. He mixes Hip Hop, contemporary dance and martial arts, to make artistic and political actions inside and outside of theatre for a better world. I met him right at the fusion battle in Berlin. In my head, I still remember one time he was wearing the mask while dancing. The scene reminded me of the character who lived in Miyazaki Hayao’s world. It was hard to not notice him. He is such an authentic human being.
At first, he was dressing up as a superhero for his Mom. He described himself as an antisocial child who is drawing all the time because he was moving around a lot. After a long time being this urban gate dancer in the city, he successfully transforms and connects it back to himself. “It’s been quite a strong moment”, he said. Of course, he also wants to be a socially successful dancer to be able to live from it, instead of suffering. But deeply behind that, he wants his actions to get back to nature. In the end, human beings are stupid, but at the same time lovable.
For seeing all the consciousness efforts he puts in his actions, his dance needs to literally present himself. It does. His style is the cultural fusion and remix of the existing style and making something new from it. The influence was coming from his mix background. He always needs to find the middle path of behaving Japanese or behaving Western, because of growing up in New York and Tokyo. For him, making fusion and finding the connecting points between two very different things somehow became inevitable. It also helps in intercultural communications. But how does he do that? First, he puts contrasting things together. Basically kind of forcing it together, and then the body and mind would adjust to it naturally—Sometimes it would just happen. For instance, if one forced to live with a very different neighbour, one would take actions to find solutions to live with this neighbour peacefully.
For his political activities in performing arts, he shared, ‘I have always fascinated with student movements, Hip Hop, funds raising, and speaking out for injustice, racism.‘ When Fukushima happened, he saw the ridiculous thing happened on TV and the government reactions. At that moment, he found what he should fight for. He wanted to do something about it, instead of being an observer. He added, this lie that we are living in is a live theatre, and we are actors in this live theatre.
What’s the concept behind the production “Lies/Harmony 和とウソの間” you created?
It’s a piece I did and start developing exactly after Fukushima. I start doing part of it in the anti-nuclear demonstration in Berlin/Japan. Making setter of the mistruth that been told on TV, like if you keep smiling radiation doesn’t affect you, or safe to drink the water that it would go through your body. All these information controls, I just want to put that straight onto the theatre. Somehow this imagines of pretending, that this is no danger when there is a danger. It came to my mind that an image of dancing happily with a mask on like a child, innocent feeling but going through terrible things. How can I describe this stupidity of mankind, in dance and theatre movement?
In the newest version, I collaborated with this Taiwanese Canadian multi-media interactive stage artist named Sammy Chien, with sound and video. He’s also politically active, doing a lot of feminism and queer actions. I know him from Lake Studios when he was there. I was away for a month. I came back two days before he left. We spent two days together and became so close because we have so much similarity. We are both Asian going into North America as a young teenager at the time, both did Hip Hop and dance, professionally working in theatre. It was so lucky to meet Sammy Chien, we are like the brother, so much fun being with him. With Sammy work doesn’t feel like work. It’s very important to keep having fun because many activists they burn out after a while. You have to learn how to keep the fire, it’s a lifestyle. You can still have fun and
protest, fight for what you believe in. It does reflect my own personality, I always try to find fun and dance. I think it’s human instinct.
How you and Sammy work together?
We share a lot of similarities, so we support and understand each other really well. We talk a lot about racism and sexism. We both suffered racism when we were younger in North America. We both have Hip Hop as a way to get out of this. Through public culture, we find individual expression and be accepted. We try to make a piece about our life and what we experienced in the world. To make a funny little autobiography.
How does the urban dance scene look like in Berlin?
I like the scene in Berlin because it’s a lot of fusion battle, like outbox me and Club Oval, including partnering, contact improvisation, and insights to win the battle. This is like the urban dancing future that I was thinking of for ten years already. When I start to learn contact, I really want to explore that with street dancers, also to expand the horizon. I think maybe because of that, I feel like it’s less aggressive than other cities, it’s not just solo against solo. You kind of force to work with other people. It’s a bit similar to my dance method, putting very different things and forcing to make friends with it. You have to let go what you have been hanging on it, so you can make the new path and create something interesting.
How you describe the relationship between dance and movements?
When you see somebody just moving, then it doesn’t touch your heart, often they are also not getting touched. They just do something, and somehow it doesn’t reach you. When you just do things purely physical, it’s like movement. But when your heart is moving with it, then it’s dance. So to speak, physical plus emotional movement, it’s dance. This physical empty doesn’t affect the performer itself, it stops inspiring dancers themselves. When I was in a club in New York, a bunch of B-Boys showing tricks, it’s really just about ego and showing, and then I kind of got tired of it. Something didn’t feel right, it was not the nice energy. But in the corner, a big fat black woman, around fifty, she was really feeling it like ‘mmm oh yeah’ to the music without any technique. I felt like I could look at her enjoying herself hours. See these kids trying to show up makes me sick.
How did you start working with Lake Studios? What’s your role in it?
I came to Berlin to start, to be one of the starting members, to have a creative home close to nature. I was the clown, I was the one making people laugh, making mistake and making the move. Also thinking about the concept of having people lived there. The original concept is it’s a place to live, I think that’s what makes it different from normal dance studios, because usually, nobody lives there, strictly a place for business and some exchange. It’s not a living thing, which I think it makes people feel very welcome and open in a different way. Marcela does most of the things in terms of running it. Once it was built, I got into doing the comedy show, kid’s events and battle, guides in nature, Christmas’ event. That’s how I contribute, I am always next to her supporting her in some way. I was the first one joining the lake studios, now we start to get money from the city, and do the festival this summer. It’s flying.
To me, Lake Studios is a home, workplace, communal place. It’s a place you always meet new people, a place for international exchange, for friendship, sometimes troubles, also a place for solutions. It’s a beautiful place. For me, the living space needs to be close to nature, it’s the key element how I combine these different forms from I learn. It’s also the reason why I perform, nature is my biggest love, that’s what needed to be projected that’s what we need to take care more and to educate each other about it. So that’s my biggest motivation in performing. Lots of my projects are political or environmental related.
Which city is the most suitable place for dance and creativities?
Berlin, because there’s creative energy everywhere. You see people’s energy is like accepting weird and creative things pretty well. It’s a place for revolutions and creativities, it’s so beautiful. I have been living here for almost five years, right after working in Japan. Fukushima happened, I moved to Paris, then Amsterdam, and now Berlin. The balance between going to nature and coming to the city, I feel the energy of the city and having the options, its feed me a lot.
Best places you ever been?
I’m part of this crew called BIRDMILK COLLECTIVE. We show some crazy parties and performances around. That’s my recommendation of Berlin. Another recommendation is, the group of people called TAET VREMYA participating in Lake Studios last summer, it’s a conceptual post play dance group. A lot of things from them is must see.