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New Year, New Challenge!

Guest blog by Kae Sakurai, Tokyo born new Scot, percussive dancer, choreographer and dance event organiser.

2017 was an amazing year for me. The highlights were a week-long residency at Dance Base with Nic Gareiss in April and organising ‘Lismore Dance & Music Week with Nic Gariess and Scott Hartley’ in November.

During the Dance Base residency, Nic and I shared and explored new choreographic ideas resulting in a piece I created for four dancers called ‘Rhythm Canon’, while Nic worked on a solo piece, part of ‘Solo Square Dance’, which he premiered in August 2017. We developed material by experimenting with live music and old-fashioned music technology such as the metronome, and really enjoyed playing around with technique. Nic is an amazing dancer and great teacher. He mentored me and advised on some of my existing choreographic pieces, honing finer details. I learned so much from the week, from technique to programming and staging, to working with and directing other dancers. I even learned a piece from Nic’s repertoire, creating a duo version together, which we performed at the ‘showing’ on the final day of the residency.

Nic and I were honoured to be the first recipients of a residency under a new collaborative friendship between the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and Dance Base. The experience has given me the confidence to take ambitions for the future to the next level. We had a fabulous time, so thank you to everyone at TDFS and Dance Base!

Here's a snippet from the residency which was filmed by Lewis Landini at the Netherbow Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre.

The week on Lismore last November was amazing. Dancers and musicians came from across Scotland, UK, USA and Japan. We had dance workshops with Nic, music workshops with Scott, and daily ‘step swaps’ where participants came together to share steps and teach each other. We finished each day with a session, or concert, and a party (perhaps too many for some!). Guest tutor Mairi Campbell also gave us a singing workshop. Participants who were interested in performance got together and rehearsed for the concert with Nic and Scott. We all found new collaborations and even tried out some new work. Our fabulous cooking team prepared lunch and dinner and everyone sat down together to eat each day. After the week on Lismore, we travelled back to Glasgow and performed a sell-out concert at SDTA.

Lismore Music & Dance Weekend

Lismore Dance & Music Week, November 2017. Photo credit: Maitane Eyheramonho

Since meeting Nic Gareiss in 2015, my dance life has changed! I’ve had the pleasure of inviting Nic to Scotland for workshops, concerts and the residency. He has encouraged me to start choreographing steps which has lead to collaborations with musicians and bands, including Janet Lees, Corran Raa, Ainsley Hamill, Barluath and Donald Lindsey. Most importantly I have set-up the ‘Sound of Dance’ project with Janet Lees. My goal is to explore the communication between dancer and musician in live performance. The rhythm takes on a look and the tunes tell stories through dance. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s beautiful when live music unites with dancing.

Along the way, I have met some beautiful dancers and have some exciting news for the year ahead! Aneta Dortova and Jennifer Org will be joining the ‘Sound of Dance’ project. Aneta is a sean-nós dancer from Ireland and Jennifer has a background in clog, rapper sword and Scottish step dancing. 

2018 will be another challenging, but exciting year for the project.

First, Aneta and I will be teaching workshops at Celtic Connections at the end of January. I’m also organising sean-nós dance workshops with Aneta aimed at experienced dancers together with a lunch time concert with Jennifer, Janet and Lora Abe – all happening during Celtic Connections. Next is a production week in March to work on new material with Nic as director, which we hope to perform later in the year – watch this space!


Sean-nós beginner workshops at Celtic Connections (20th & 21st January), visit:

Scottish step dance beginner workshops at Celtic Connections (27th & 28th January), visit:

Sean-nós intermediate-advanced, two-day workshop at STDA Glasgow (20th & 21st January), visit