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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2013)

My study, My career

Introducing female researchers active at Waseda University.

Waseda 150 Vision defines the ideal form of our university as we move toward our 150th anniversary in 2032. One aspect of the vision is "Waseda research which contributes to world peace and the happiness of mankind." As we work to achieve this goal, we expect new perspectives and ideas to be introduced through the activities of female researchers. In the sixth edition of this series, we spoke with Professor Chizuru Sugiyama.

Pursuing my interest was the first step toward becoming a researcher

Professor Chizuru Sugiyama
Faculty of Sport Sciences

Before I knew it, I had become a researcher

I entered the modern dance club when I entered university. My interest in dance increased through club activities and classes. I wanted to increase my individual practice time, so I started attending the Fujii Koh/Toshiko Dance Laboratory in Saitama City from March of my sophomore year. Under the unique instruction of Koh and the passionate instruction of Toshiko, I grew even more infatuated with dance. After graduation, I had planned to continue studying dance under the tutelage of the Fujiis while working part-time. Unfortunately, the part-time work which I had lined up suddenly disappeared and I didn't know what to do. When I consulted with Professor Hisako Oya, advisor to the Waseda modern dance club, she recommended that I study dance education at the graduate school, Ochanomizu University. After entering graduate school, I continued to dream of becoming a dance instructor. However, I gave presentations at academic conferences and had my thesis published in academic proceedings. Before I knew it, I had become a researcher, a profession which I still continue today.

Appeal in the diverse approaches of dance studies

"Ware wa Kusa Nari (We are the Grass)" (performed in December 2008 at Odansu Biyori (Perfect Weather for Dancing), the 31st regular performance by the Waseda Modern Dance Club)

Dance studies is an extremely broad and deep field. Dance consists of diverse genres including Japanese dance, Western dance, folk dance and traditional dance. There are various methods for approaching the study of dance. My specialty is the history of Western dance in modern Japan. My surveys and research focus on female dancers who were part of the Asakusa Opera and Asakusa Review, popular venues in Asakusa when they were Tokyo's premier entertainment district in the 1920s. I also research dances performed at the Imperial Theatre, which was the first institution in Japan to conduct ballets lessons. My research also includes dancers who studied at the Imperial Theatre and their subsequent activities. Currently, I am researching Toshi Komori, who instructed the Fujiis.

At the same time, I am a member of the Tokyo Creative Dance Troupe which is operated by Koh and Toshiko Fujii. For a long time, I have continued to dance in works created by the Fujiis, so I am interested in the bodily sensation and manipulation of dancers. In the case of modern dance, techniques and styles differ depending on the composer. I am also interested in how characteristics unique to a composer are studied and passed down to future dancers.

Professors and students are all researchers

With instructors Koh and Toshiko Fujii. January 2008. Photographed by Tadashisa Sakurai.

While maintaining ethics and morals, classes in creative dance have an "anything goes" atmosphere. This lets students enjoy creating through complete freedom of ideas. My attitude as an instructor has been influenced by teachers under whom I have studied. Professor Masanao Kano, my teacher in undergraduate school, held the attitude of being the same scholar of history as students. My study, understanding and interest were further cultivated in the field of dance by Koh and Toshiko Fujii, as was my research by Professor Yasuko Kataoka, who was my instructor at graduate school.

I hope that my students will become engrossed in their studies. If they find something that interests them, I hope that they will pursue it with all their energy. Such an obsessive attitude provides a foothold for broadening one's world.

My second life as a dancer is devotion to research

My instructor Koh Fujii passed away in 2008 and I stopped dancing. As a result of these changes, I am finally removed from the stage and can now view dance objectively as a research subject.

I have continued to research the Asakusa Opera since I entered graduate school. Although there are numerous aficionados of the opera, it is not the subject of many researchers. People who frequented Asakusa at the height of the opera have all passed away and only paper material remains. This makes me feel that there isn't much time left for researching the opera. I intend to make researching the Asakusa Opera my own life work. However, I hope that my work will create enough interest so that a successor to my research will appear and produce even greater results.

Professor Chizuru Sugiyama
Faculty of Sport Sciences

In 1985, graduated with a major in Japanese history from the Department of History at the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I, Waseda University. In 1989, completed graduate studies in dance education at the Graduate School of Humanities, Ochanomizu University. Became an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University in 2001 and Professor in 2007. Her research themes include modern dance techniques/styles and dance/dancers in Asakusa in the 1920s. Her recent written works include "The Body and Rethinking of Japanese People" (co-written).