My first 24 hours...
I've only been here for 24 hours and I feel so welcomed by the staff and students at the Hinton Battle Dance Academy. The people here in Japan are so generous and so hungry to learn. If this is just a taste of my entire month here, I'm even more excited than I was before.
My flight was super smooth! I tried to stay up as much as possible so that I could handle the jet lag and 11 hour time difference. I was welcomed by Birendre, who is just so sweet and works for Yoshimoto, the management company that is responsible for opening the academy. He is from Sri Lanka, but went to school in Japan and lives here in Tokyo. He speaks Japanese fluently only after 4 years of living here. Wow!
I checked into my hotel, Hundred Stay Tokyo, which is like my own little studio apartment... and I have the most gorgeous view of the city! I quickly freshened up and met Bierendre downstairs so that we could go meet Araki, the Japanese representative of the Hinton Battle Dance Academy, and the man himself, Mr. Hinton Battle!!! For those who many not be familiar with Mr.Battle, he is a living legend. He was the scarecrow in the original Broadway production of the Wiz. He is a Tony Award winning actor, dancer, and singer, and has had a career that is un-matched by anyone of this generation.
He was amazing! Firstly he told me how impressed he was with my resume, which meant the world coming from someone such as him. We only were able to meet that evening because he left for New York the next morning. He told me to "not go easy" on the students and enjoy my time here! We proceeded to eat, eat, eat, and drink, drink, drink. Myself, Bierendre, Araki, and the previous modern teacher, Anthony Burrell ( who was even celebrating a birthday) had a great meal (There may have been tequila shots involved)! The Japanese love to eat and drink! In just one day, I've tried the following food for the first time: fried tofu, yellow swordfish, cow tongue, cow liver, horse, cow intenstine, soft shell turtle stew, and more things I can't remember. Also, my chopstix game is so on point right now!!
My Step-Fathers mother, Mema, (may she rest in peace) had this motto when it comes to food...
If it looks good smell it
If it smells good taste it
If it taste good eat it
If you eat it, don't ask what it is!
I believe that sharing in delicious meals with people of other cultures is one of the most pure ways to learn and be engulfed in their world. I can't wait to keep eating (I'm gonna have to slow down!)
That next morning, I went to the Hinton Battle Dance Academy and I WAS SPEECHLESS. THESE KIDS ARE INCREDIBLE. Oh my goodness. I have never seen a classroom so on fire. Anthony Burrell ( also if you don't know who he is, look him up! Ailey dancer to Beyonce Dancer/Choreographer to Mariah Carey Dancer) had these kids dancing! There work ethic is unlike anything I've ever watched, and I'm so excited (and a little nervous) to teach them! They also are having Mr. Milton Myers teach after I leave so I need to bring all of my A game. I hope I can give these students what they need and help them grow.
That afternoon , I decided to walk around my new living area and it's wonderful. There is food everywhere, lot of grocery stores, and little shops. THE SHOPPING HERE IS AMAZING!!!!!! I have to make sure not to spend all my Yen on my clothes, but I might... I also found a Japanese casino which looks like a big, pink arcade for adults. The night was followed by dinner with Araki, Bierendre, and two new friends from the Academy, Cajo and Hazuki! Both amazing dancers and so willing to teach me so many things about their culture.