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Erika Akoh

In search of beauty: Seiko Takada.

Akoh, Erika: "In search of beauty - Seiko Takada", 16th International Congress on Dance Research. Athens, IOFA Greece, 2002.

When I think of the pioneers of Modern Dance in Japan, Baku Ishii followed by Seiko Takada come to mind. After learning dance from Giovanni Vittorio Rossi at the Imperial Theater Opera Company, Baku Ishii, Masao and Seiko Takada had been very successful at the Asakusa Opera. In 1922, Masao and Seiko Takada went to the United States, Paris and London. In April 1924, Baku Ishii and his sister-in-law, Konami, went to Paris, Berlin, Munich, and New York to have their dance performances. Both Masao and Seiko Takada were very successful as choreographers and dancers in the New Kabuki Theater Company. They belonged to the Negishi Entertainment Company, which supported them financially.

In the autumn of 1922 they went to New York to learn classical ballet, but when they went to the Madam Noice Studio they were introduced to modern dance. There they met Doris Humphrey and became acquainted with St. Denis and Ted Shawn. They were to learn dance at DeniShawnSchool. They were also able to acquaint themselves with the dance of Isadora Duncan and Michio Ito who was in New York at that time. They were able to perform on the same stage with Michio Ito in "A Night of Outstanding Dancers", performed by the Japanese.

In 1923, they moved from New York to Paris, and on the third day after arriving in London, they heard that Tokyo had been devastated by the Big Kanto Earthquake. The support from the Negishi Entertainment Company had to be stopped. The Negishi Entertainment Company had caught on fire and the whole area containing the Asakusa Opera was also destroyed. In September of 1924, a year after the earthquake, they were back in Japan. They had to restart their career as individual dancers without any sponsorship. They opened up a newly built studio and brought up many well-known dancers from Takada Dance Company, which was actively carrying out performances. In May 24th, 1929, Masao Takada died from lung tuberculosis. From then, Seiko changed her stage name from Seiko Hara to Seiko Takada and continued her dancing career. On November 5th of the same year, she performed her new performance in the newly built Hibiya Kokaido Theater. On May 24th, 1930, a year after her husband's death, she performed dances titled "Dedicated to Masao", "Dance of the Mask", and "Sentenced to Fire", at the same theater. Misako Miya and Takaya Eguchi were the dancers on their debut performance. Seiko's dance was composed of different styles. "Salome" and "Lucid" was literary; "Blast Furnace" was creative; "Fumie" was on a Japanese theme. But her dance was very passionate in "Anitora", "A Girl in Norch", "Sentenced to Fire", and "Burning Passion".

There were many followers of Seiko Takada: they were Shigeru Fujita, Takashi Masuda, Misako Miya; Chiyoko Sakai, Tonao Hiraoka, Junko Ozawa, Yoko Miki, Noriko Ando, Nanako Yamada; Goro Yamada and her last follower Erika Akoh to name a few. She devoted herself as the first and longest ever serving chairman of the Modern Dance Association Inc. In 1959, she was awarded the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon, and in 1970 received The Order of the Precious Crown, Wistaria from the late Emperor of Japan. In February of 1977 she choreographed her last performance "Why.." for Erika Akoh. The day following the lighting check of Erika's performance, she was sent to the hospital due to aneurism. She passed away in March 19th, 1977 at the age of 81.

Her dance style focuses on the relationship of the music, the story, and the expression. And with the fundamentals of the ballet technique, she expressed the passion and grace outward through her body movement that flowed so naturally and smoothly.

Erika Akoh

JP-2570014 Kanagawa-Ken



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