Program Activities (Japan 2006 trip)
Social Issues: Japan is a country with a very different set of social norms from the U.S. Forget casual! It is really important to educate oneself beforehand -- a small gaffe could cause a major set-back in building partnerships and forwarding your project. For example, the presenting of business cards is an almost ceremonial act. There is much literature on the www that will give a detailed, step-by-step description; but for dancers and choreographers, it won’t seem difficult o master. Hold the card delicately with both hands and present it (with the card positioned in such a way that your counterpart can read it) accompanied by a slight bow. When receiving a card, take it gently and examine it with interest and approval. My advice: take a Japanese friend aside before you visit Japan and ask for lessons in decorum. This will serve you very well!
Bureaucracy: Spontaneity is a concept that doesn’t go well with Japanese organizers. In fact, I was stunned to realize that the idea of suitable planning time for a project in Japan if two years at the minimum. Theaters, even smaller ones, seem to be booked this far in advance.
Maintain a synergistic approach: bring your partners together; build secondary events to add to your main one; include social activities, formal or informal, in your program plans. Our event at the Hilton in Osaka proved to be a very important opportunity to have our Japanese hosts and the hotel manager meet and greet and generate a feel-good atmosphere around the program.
A small dinner reception was held at the Hilton Osaka, hosted and attended by members of Peace Forest, NPO, the Company’s hospitality sponsor; Mr. Schwander, GM of the hotel, and other dignitaries and dancers.
The United States’ stature as a world center of the performing arts was on brilliant display by the Battery Dance Company. Implicit in the many workshops offered was the US’s similar role in world arts education; there was no doubt in the minds of the dance participants that they were seeing and participating in the top level of dance. This American dance company’s identification with the world peace movement also offered the Japanese public a more nuanced view of the US, this in contrast to a spate of recent of US-connected issues headlining in Japan, including US military base relocation within Japan and concerns with Japan’s participation in Middle Eastern peacekeeping. The Battery Dance Company’s Kansai tour was a large-scale and complex undertaking, but yielded commensurately positive results! -U.S. Consulate General, Osaka