top of page

Dance is my Master Key

What a week. My first full week has been nothing short of life changing. From the food to my exceptional and genuine students, Japan is slowly but surely stealing a piece of my heart.

Let me begin with saying, that I was SO NERVOUS to begin teaching these students. I had watched them the Friday before in Anthony Burrell's class and they were just breathtaking to watch. I immediately started to doubt the information that I could give them. I mean how was I blessed with the opportunity to teach such hard working, talented, and driven students in a beautiful country? But then I remembered that God is in control and he put me here for a reason, so their must be something that I have to share with them.

Our first class was great! I began with recording them individually saying their names because I feel that it initiates a great connection between a teacher and student. (I'm still learning and perfecting their names but I will get there!) I was blown away by their technique and work ethic. When I was a student, I'm going to be honest and just say that I did not work as diligently as they do! I feel that now as a professional I have a certain work ethic that I sustain in whatever I'm doing, but these students range from 16-19 years of age and they are unreal. They are focused. SO FOCUSED. To the point that all I can do is tell them how beautiful they all are and push them to go even further.

About three days in, we made magic. At the end of class, I told them all to take their hair down and shake it out. We had just finished Horton class and completed a very typical Horton class combination, set to drum beats by the one and only Victor See Yueng. It was completely spur of the moment, but I told them that we were going to change it up.

I explained how musicality and dynamics are, in my opinion, a dancers most valuable asset in being unique. We had just done a combination that was fierce and upbeat. I told them that I was going to change the music and I wanted their bodies to reflect the change in music. There were no rules. You could hold anything as long as you wanted or move as quickly as you wanted. I just told them to do whatever they felt in that moment. I put on this beautiful song that is accompanied with the most beautiful violins in the background. AND LET ME TELL YOU. In that moment, I saw those students (meanwhile its only been three days) go from thinking like students, to thinking like professionals. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. All of sudden, they started DANCING. And before you knew it, they were improving and beautifully intertwined with one another. It almost looked like a piece of art that was choreographed (I think I'm going to set a work on them).

I made us all hold hands in a circle to finish breathing together as the music continued playing in the background. I made us all come closer to the middle of the circle to thank them for their beautiful work. I looked up at them to find them all with TEARS FALLING FROM THEIR EYES. Of course I start crying because they are. And in that moment, I was just so reassured that God has me in the right place at the right time. In that moment there was no place else I was supposed to be than in that studio, at the Hinton Battle Dance Academy, at The Tokyo Broadway Dance Center, in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, in this beautiful land of Japan.

I hugged them all individually, very tightly and told them I would see them tomorrow to make more magic all over again.

Outside of dancing, I found time during my afternoons to explore areas closer to my hotel. I went to the Tsukiji Fish Market which is one of the largest outdoor markets in Japan! I thought that instead of eating at a restaurant and sitting down, I would walk around and grab small bites from each of the little stations. I had scallop skewers, Japanese Crab, miso soup with clams, the worlds largest oyster, Scallop covered in Sea Urchin, and Mochi! I know a very diverse lunch, but my stomach can handle about anything. I LOVED the scallops! Not a fan of sea urchin. It kind of tastes like the gooey, brown guts that you might accidentally eat out of a Maryland Blue Crab. The oyster was huge and delicious! But it was kind of weird taking three bites out of the same oyster. A little weird but super fresh. The crab melted in my mouth! I love Miso Soup so the clams as an addition was delicious. And the mochi, which is dessert, had a texture that was like tofu and a marshmellow combined. Super gooey and soft but tough and stretchy! and it tasted pretty good I must say. OF COURSE I ATE ALL OF IT. I left full and happy!

I wandered one day into this area called Piss Alley ( I know... weird name) It feels like you just get transported into an entire new city. Its small and cramped, to the point where I had to duck in order to fit in some places. I was starving when I went (not surprising... I'm always hungry) and decided to go to the place that had the longest line!

SIDE NOTE: That's always a good way to decide where to eat. Long lines, though tedious, mean the food is being prepared fresh and lots of people think its delicious.

It was this very tiny shack, no bigger than a bedroom, selling this pasta dish called Ten- Tama Soba, which had buckwheat noodles in broth with soy/sesame flavoring and tempura vegetables. OF COURSE I ATE ALL OF IT. If you all could've seen the visual, you probably would have laughed! Imagine all of these Japanese businessmen, and then black, tall, lanky Courtney sitting there trying to look cool while eating with chopsticks when the Lord knew I just wanted a darn fork! Anyways, it was great! Also, one afternoon, I went to lunch with two of my students, Hazuki and Kazuki, and the school rep Araki, and had curry rice with egg and salmon. OF COURSE I ATE ALL OF IT.

See the theme? I always eat ALL OF MY FOOD!

I walked around Shinjuku for an afternoon which is also reminds me of Times Squares. There is everything from a Louis Vuitton, to Starbucks, Uniqlo, and little eateries. I went to a national park called the Shinjuku Gyoen, and wal