MIN TANAKA (Dancer)
Min Tanaka is an avant-garde and experimental dancer, deeply inspired by Tatsumi Hizikata, founder of Ankoku Butoh, Dance of Darkness.
Trained in classical ballet and modern dance for 10 years since 1964, he became active as a modern dancer. In 1966 he started his solo performance. He then came to be skeptical about the cultural scene and especially Japanese dance “industry” which were completely mirroring class-bound identity and post-World War II social manner. He eventually withdrew himself from Japanese Contemporary Dance Association, and started his own dance activities in 1974. The activities were rapidly developed into his “hyper-dance,” emphasizing psycho-physical unity of the body. His expansion in the expressive activities impacted and instigated the art and cultural community, through his collaborations with Japanese and world-wide intellectuals, scientists, and contemporary artists of his time.
In 1978, Tanaka made his international debut by participating in “Time-Space of Japan—MA, ” Paris Autumn Festival (commissioners: architect, Arata Isozaki, and composer, Toru Takemitsu). For three decades ever since he has presented solo and group performances throughout the world in Europe, USA, former socialist and Third-World regions.
His dance/life activities outside the formalist theater/dance/ music scenes gradually drew the attention of avant-garde activists, artists, novelists, life scientists, ethnologists, anthropologists, philosophers……and he became involved more actively in collaborative research and creative projects for social education and transformation. These cross-genre activities vary from choreography and performance in opera, contemporary and traditional folk dance, visual art, architecture/landscape, medical/psychiatric science to free improvisation music.
At age 40, with his fellow dancers and researchers, Tanaka opened an organic farm in the countryside in Japan out of his curiosity in the intrinsic affinity between our body/labor and nature. Presently, as for the cooperation agricultural style it closes. It continues independently. Through this ongoing experience he has come to be convinced that dance is deeply and irreversibly rooted in the humanity’s practice of agriculture.
In the past decade he has been invited to play as an actor in numerous films and TV programs. For his performance in “The Twilight Samurai, ” an epoch feature film directed by Mr. Youji Yamada, Tanaka was given the Best Debutant Actor’s Award and the Best Supporting Actor’s Award by one of Japan’s leading cinema associations. More recently he has further expanded his scope of activities in the popular media including the National NHK TV documentary and drama programs as a narrator and actor. But, Tanaka says. I am a dancer and I am not the actor.
Tanaka’s incessant and exclusive search for the origin of dance continues and has come to take an even more deep-rooted approach, with the Locus Focus project, a site-specific and improvisational dance performance series taking place at a variety of every-day life scenes throughout Japan and abroad.