of Dance Spots
A factor in the emergence of the new generation of young artists was the existence
of artistic spaces that discovered and trained new talent for contemporary dance.
Initially during the 1980s, aside from Tatsumi Hijikata’s Asbestos Studio,
a rehearsal space and performance hall managed by Butoh groups; and Dairakudakan’s
Toyotama Garan, the only venue producing dance performances was Jean Jean, a small
theater in Tokyo's Shibuya area. Subsequently, a number of private companies decided
to improve their public images by supporting the arts, so they opened performance
halls where contemporary dance was performed, including Spiral Hall and Park Tower
In the second half of the 1990s, new vacant spaces appeared in the urban buildings
aban-doned during the recession and were transformed into artists’ spaces,
and the epicenter of the current movement was in the many "dance spots"
that were established during that period. Session House put on many unique productions,
such as a festival made up of ten-minute short works, or a presentation at which
the audience decided the admission price after seeing the performances. The space
known as Die Pratze produced the Dance Festival "Dance ga Mitai," in
which the featured dancers and program changed daily. ST Spot in Yokohama was
administered by volunteers and had a perceptive dancer as its curator. Located
in a small municipally supported theater, it became a base of operations for budding
dancers, with support for everything from auditions of new dancers to creation
of new works. Osaka’s Art Theater dB was administered by a non-profit organization,
Dance Box and became a gateway to success, as well as a base for contemporary
dancers in the Osaka area. In all these cases, producers knowledgeable about dance
were in charge, and they cooperated with one another in training young artists.
In addition, public theaters such as Itami AI Hall, Setagaya Public Theatre, and
Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse came to the fore as venues for dance. By producing
their own projects and providing continuous financing, they have become a major
factor in supporting the dance scene.
Support and the Activities of the New Generation of Producers.
Private corporations began supporting the arts as a part of their social contribution
programs in the 1990s. Among the companies that actively supported contemporary
dance, including creative works of unproven value, were Asahi Breweries, Kirin
Brewery Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, and the Saison Foundation. Toyota
in particular joined with the Setagaya Public Theatre in 2001 to establish the
Toyota Choreography Award (chosen by a committee chaired by Ushio Amagatsu) with
the objective of discovering the next generation of choreographers. After only
two rounds of awards, it has become known as a prize that opens doors for new
Another element supporting the vitality of contemporary dance is the activities
of a new generation of producers. In contrast to producers in Butoh, who doubled
as company leaders and worked with only one company, these producers work independent
from dance companies and found their own production companies. They have changed
the system in significant ways by receiving private and public support for mounting
a variety of productions at festivals and other project.
In addition, non-profit organizations in Japan have just begun to play a groundbreaking
role in this area. For example, the Japan Contemporary Dance Network (JCDN), a
non-profit organization founded in 2001, works cooperatively on disseminating
information and selling tickets, sending performers out to perform on demand,
conducting workshops, and otherwise trying to provide an environment for dance
performances and to increase the popularity of dance among the general public.
Many artists also participate in the activities of the non-profit organization
Artists and Children, which sends dancers to perform in elementary and junior
With the arrival of this new generation, artists, who once disliked forming interdisciplinary
ties, have begun to think seriously about their role in society, which marks a
major shift in their consciousness. They also have a strong desire to perform
overseas, actively seeking to participate in artistic showcases. In an increasing
number of cases, they make their overseas debut before having established a reputation
in Japan. We have no way of knowing the extent of the creative potential of the
new generation of artists, but we hope that this expanded outlook leads to unprecedented
advances in the art of dance.