Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! is a 30-minute performance of autobiographic nature written, choreographed and performed by me, Ryuichi Fujimura.
It is a bit difficult to categorise this work. I think of it as ‘narrative storytelling-meets-contemporary dance’.
I love storytelling events such as the Moth and Story Club. In this work, I wanted to merge two art forms I love: the open-mic style storytelling and contemporary dance. At the beginning of my process, I wrote three stories. I told two of them for the Moth StorySlam in which 10 contestants tell their personal stories for five minutes and receive scores from a panel of judges. Both times I ranked second.
I am primarily a dancer and have no training or experience in oral storytelling. In order to gain insight into this art form, I studied stand-up comedy. By studying, I mean attending a weekend crash course and watching tons of stand-up shows on Netflix. As part of my effort to improve my narrative skill, I attended a workshop by Phil Spencer earlier this year. That was when the talk of me bringing this work to Bondi Festival began.
I have been making this work for three years now while engaged in other performance projects. It has become a kind of pet project.
This work examines the performer/audience relationship through my personal anecdotes of failure and disappointments. While developing this work I have done a number of work-in-progress showings in a variety of settings for different types of audience, ranging from a traditional studio showing for the contemporary dance audience to an underground warehouse party (where the majority of the audience were stoned) to a Melbourne Writers Festival event at a museum for bookworms. Performing for a variety of audiences and receiving feedback from them has become a big part of the process of developing this work.
The inspiration for my dance sequence choreography was the 80s dance films (Fame, Flashdance, Footloose etc.). Why? Because the 80s is my era (I’m 56 years old) and I love the innocent earnestness embodied by the heroes of those movies.
The other influence for making this work was Frances Ha, a movie made in 2013.
Frances, the main character of the movie played by Greta Gerwig, is an aspiring apprentice at a dance company who wants to become a full-time company dancer but doesn’t have enough talent. At the end she finds her own voice and I can relate to her story very much – even though I am 30 years older than she is.
I really want to show this work to people in all walks of life. Even though I tell my stories as a dancer, I believe that my stories are relatable and hope that my dance is enjoyable. I am looking forward to bringing this work to Bondi Festival.