Welcome to the homepage for my nichest fixation.
Tsugaru Teodori literally translates to 'Hand-Dancing from Tsugaru.'
Tsugaru is a region in Aomori prefecture, which is located in northern Japan.
The weather in Tsugaru is not unlike the weather I experience in my homeland.
For half of the year, it is cold in Aomori. There is snow everywhere.
But perhaps Aomori's cold seaside breeze chills one to the bone more than the regular prarie freezes I am used to.
I am speculating, for I have never been there.
Once there was a group of labourers who were waiting for coals to melt, or for the weather to turn,
or for something to happen, and they were bored. They were bored out of their minds.
One man's gaze fixated on the leaves falling from the trees that signalled the approach of winter.
He watched as a leaf fluttered to the left, then to the right, then left again before landing gracefully.
He thought about how dainty and feminine this leaf was, how elegantly it decided to find its final resting
place on the forest floor where it would break down to nurture the tree the was her mother.
And then he imitated it, and created Tsugaru Teodori, a feminine dance that was initially
danced exclusively by man, where one fluttered like a falling leaf, constantly in motion, drifting to the ground.
So the bored labourers would dance like this, almost a form of naturarmorphic drag, as they waited
for their work to resume again. Eventually they brought it home to their drinking parties and paired the danced along
to the percussive beats of the Tsugaru shamisen, a percussive style of shamisen that the youth made up when the
dainty plucking of the stringed instrument didn't conform to their rebellious fingers.
Eventually the women joined in on the fun, and just for the hell of it, they made up a 'masculine'
version of the dance that was equally ironic.
These are the stories of Tsugaru Teodori that have consolidated in my head. These stories aren't especially real
but there is some truth to them. If you are interested enough, ask me, and I will direct you to the sources that I have
watched that make me think that this is the origin of the form. But I know that I don't know. I don't speak Japanese.
I have a wild imagination and all of this could be false.
My hands know some of the dances from the constant fixation on them. I can tell you, for example,
that there are five dances. They are:
I have spent time collecting all of them into playlists.
And I have a master playlist that contains all of them and it is located
I collect them like my baba used to collect spoons from the places she couldn't set her feet on.
Her spoon collection is still hanging on my wall.
And I hope these playlists will be useful to someone eventually.
Aomori Aomori, a project by Sioned Huws
This isn't so much a review, but a gesture towards some work that has been done that I don't know whether I understand.
Sioned Huws is a Welsh dancer who speaks fluent Welsh and Japanese and decided to go to study Teodori and make it into something else.
I picture her staring at the snow-laden landscape, her plane descending onto the tarmac with a thunderous roar.
She was not like the leaves that silently fall left and right. The fallen Sioned decided
that we were all already fallen, and so she danced Tsugaru Teodori on the ground like a corpse.
Perhaps she is prematurely celebrating our
collective eco death, the fact that we will be eaten by trees at the end of days.
She dances without music most of the time, perhaps to wash her ears of the thunder her plane makes each time it lands between Japan and Wales.
But I haven't asked Sioned directly so I don't know. I think she would disagree with me.
View her work here.