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Conversations with Shiho Tendou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shiho Tendou.

Hi Shiho, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was raised in a family of Japanese traditional dancers of which I am the 3rd generation to carry on the line. My grandmother Miki Tendou is the founder of the Japanese dance group “Tendou Ryu”. She studied Japanese Traditional Dance with the Bandou Ryu style and established her own dancing group. My mother carried on the dance tradition, so I naturally also grew up learning Japanese dance from the age of three years old. When I turned 18, I started studying with Kikuhiro Otowa, a master of Kabuki style Japanese dance. During that same time, I was also studying Theater Arts and acting method at Nihon University. My teacher Kikuhiro Otowa’s dancing method revolutionized the way I perceived the world of stage and how I perform. I have remained a student of his ever since. I will continue to carry on this family tradition with my own innovations along the way.

I have performed at over 100 stages all over in Japan and the U.S. Since moving to the U.S. in 2014, along with performing in the U.S., I also teach my performing method to aspiring dancers and actors alike. 2020 was a very challenging year for me, as during the pandemic I could not get the chance to perform in a public setting as I usually do. However, it also gave me the chance to discover online teaching opportunities such as choreographing dance routines, performance consulting, and providing wardrobe for artists and project producers. I do look forward to performing in public again, but this time during the pandemic has also been a great learning opportunity.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There have been a few notable challenges:

Finding suitable opportunities and networking has been very challenging to me since I moved to the U.S. It was already difficult for me to adjust to a different culture and learn a new language, so marketing myself and building connections has only added to the challenge. Having a daughter and being a mother also comes with many responsibilities that can be challenging at times.

Another challenge comes from my perspective of the art versus people’s expectations. What I want to show and what people want to see is usually different, so finding the right balance to communicate effectively to an audience can be a challenge. When one thinks of “Japanese dance”, if raised in more western cultures, they might imagine something like Geisha entertainers; Japanese women wearing Kimono while dancing with a fan. And while I am happy to entertain people, it is my hope that they would see and feel the spiritual nature of it like I do, rather than just seeing the fan movement or the traditional kimonos.

I aim to focus on movement that flows naturally from the heart. However, my clients will often ask for something more high-energy and vibrant, more like an entertainment show. This can be a challenge because what they request doesn’t always match my spirit. My mentor always tells me “Don’t dance while dancing” which means don’t just perform a routine but instead perform from the heart. Japanese dance is often done like a theatrical performance, so usually there is a role to play. You can’t just dance or act, it has to be natural.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a dancer based in Japanese traditional dance. I also choreograph Japanese style dance and teach.

I also love to express myself with a picture, I sometimes do modeling and work with many artists.

I focus on the expressions that come from inside, I believe every movement has a meaning and it has to come naturally, so my dance style often involves more emotions.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
A few things that some people might not know about me:

– My favorite genre of music is classic rock.

– My father, mother, and brother are all good cooks that run successful restaurants in my hometown.

– Despite its usefulness, I don’t really like to use social media more than necessary.

– I used to sing jazz in restaurants.

Contact Info:

Image Credit: @Cherish3150

Image Credits:

Siegert’s PhotoGraphics

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