Category Archives: Training

Studying nō with the INI – Valentin Gabelier

It has been a little bit more than three years now since I started to study with Udaka-sensei and it’s difficult to summarize what it has given me on a personal level and how it has influenced my work. However, I would like to try to describe some of my experiences, thoughts, and impressions.

     I’m currently pursuing a PhD in Kyoto City University of Art. I have an interdisciplinary approach in which I use sound, video, sculpture, installation and performance. My research is focused on the plural and shifting nature of voice. I consider voice as a privileged medium to transform our delimitations, to go beyond the borders between the self and the otherness, the body and its environment.

     I first encountered Nō through a sound recording that I found in a library in France. I was deeply moved and shaken by the voices of both the chorus and the musicians, and for a long time I was mainly interested in Nō for its unique chant and its music. 

     So, when I started to go to Udaka-sensei’s okeiko, I was thinking of just studying the chant for only few months for my research. And here I am 3 years later, learning how to perform dances accompanied by music. By following Udaka-sensei’s teaching, and being able to see his other students’ okeiko, I started to understand the beauty of Nō dance and how the chant, the dance, the music and all the scenic aspects are inextricably linked to each other.

     After learning more about the staging and the narrative, I found very beautiful the unique relation between the voice and the self in Nō, where the same character can be embodied at the same time by the voice of the shite and the multiple voices of the chorus, by the body of the shite and by the mask.

     Considering my art work and my research, Nō has taught me a lot, not only about the use of the voice, but about all the performative aspects:  the ways of using your body, the use of space, the tension, the intention, the relation with the audience, the construction of all the layers that overlap to form this very sharp shape and powerful energy.

     When I first discovered Nō and started to read about it, I learned that it was transmitted from father to son, so for a long time, I thought that this world was inaccessible to common people, and even less so to foreigners. Therefore, I had never thought that I could learn Nō one day. So when Diego introduced me to Udaka-sensei, I felt incredibly lucky. Udaka-sensei’s very warm welcome, the very relaxed discussions we had while drinking tea before each okeiko, helped me to feel at ease. And maybe above all, his dedication to Nō as both an actor and a teacher made me understand how deep and rich this performative art is.

     Nō belongs to the kind of art that is limitless, the more you learn about it the more you realize you don’t know. I love this sensation, though it can be dizzying sometimes. Today I keep learning and discovering things that still amaze me and give me a richer understanding of Nō.

     On a personal level, being able to learn from Udaka-sensei and his two sons and to witness their total commitment and dedication to their art is very inspiring and pushes me to give the best of myself in my art production as well. Their teaching keeps making me more focused, brings me self-awareness, self-confidence, and a very precious and particular sensitivity that profoundly influence my work and my daily life.

     I am very happy to share these moments with all the INI members and I want to thank Udaka-sensei and his family for their great benevolence and the very special attention they give us. The practice of Nō opened new horizons to me and I am glad to know that I still have so much to learn and discover from it.

valentingabelier.com

“Talk to me” Video installation (2017)

Cancelled: Call for participants – INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2020

Dear Applicants to the INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2020

I regret to inform you that because of the recent outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) the 2020 Summer Intensive course has been cancelled.

The whole world is being affected by the outbreak, and Japan is no exception. Though we may be experiencing a slower increase in the number of infections as opposed to other countries, it has become clear that holding our intensive course and recital this summer would be unrealistic. 

On behalf of our main instructor, Udaka Tatsushige, I would like to thank you all for sending your applications and statements of interest. Though we do not have a definite plan for 2021, we are committed to re-schedule the intensive program when possible. It would be wonderful to see you all then. 

All best wishes and please do take care during this difficult time.

Diego Pellecchia (Course Coordinator)


The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2020 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will study noh dance and chant according to the Kongo school tradition, and learn about various aspects of noh performance, including masks and costumes. The training period will culminate with the participation in a recital at the Kongo Noh Theatre.

Program highlights

  • Train intensively in noh dance and chant. Practice in a small group for an immersive experience.
  • Perform with professional actors.
  • Watch noh performances on traditional stages.
  • Visit noh-related historical locations.
  • Experience living in the ancient capital, Kyoto.

Details

  • Training period : August 10-22, 2020
  • Recital: August 23rd
  • Fees: Regular ¥ 70,000 Repeater ¥ 60,000 INI member ¥50,000
  • Capacity: 8 participants

Fees include : Dance/chant lessons, materials, Kongo school fan, participation in the August 23rd recital, and a certificate of completion. Fees do not include: White tabi (split-toe socks – around ¥700- ¥1000/pair) Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expense.

Instructors: Udaka Tatsushige, Udaka Norishige (Kongo school actors), Udaka Keiko (noh mask carver) Director: Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University).

How to apply: Send an email to ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest. Application deadline June 1st 2020


Images of previous training programs and recitals

Study Noh theatre’s theory and practice in Venice

Nō theatre classes resume at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy. Monique Arnaud, certified instructor of the Kongō School and INI senior member, will teach nō chant and dance in a series of five meetings organized by Gesshin, a student association led by Luca Domenico Artuso, who also trained with INI in 2018.

For info: gesshincafoscari@gmail.com

INI Summer Intensive Program 2018

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2018 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will take part in an intensive training period, during which they will study Noh chant and dance at the INI training space in Kyoto with Kongō school Noh actors of the Udaka family: Michishige, Tatsushige, Norishige, and Haruna. During the program, participants will learn about various aspects of noh performance, including chant, dance, masks, and costumes. The training period will culminate with a short performance as part of the the Udaka-kai recital on a noh stage in Kyoto, featuring professional actors. The program is coordinated by Dr. Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University).

Application deadline: June, 1st 2018. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

Program highlights:

  • Train intensively in noh chant and dance, following the traditional methods of the Kongō school.
  • Practice in a small group at the okeikoba, private training space of a noh master, for an immersive experience.
  • Perform on a noh stage together with professional actors.
  • Watch noh performances in the Kansai area.
  • Experience living in Kyoto, the heart of Japanese traditional culture.

INI SUMMER INTENSIVE PROGRAM 2018

Requirements: Anyone is welcome to join – no previous knowledge of Noh is required. Lessons are given in English and/or Japanese. Past year program attendees are entitled to the repeater discount of 10,000¥, as shown below.

Capacity: 10 participants

Place: INI Training Space, Kyoto

Training dates and times: August 1-12* from 10:00 to 15:00

*Lessons will not take place on August 4,5 and 11

Participation fees:

Regular 60,000¥
Repeater 50,000¥

Fees include:

  • Chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to the participant’s level), participation to the August 12th recital, certificate of completion.

Fees do not include:

  • Tabi white split-toe socks (around 700¥)
  • Kongō-style Noh dance fan (5,000¥)
  • Rental of Kimono and Hakama for the recital (10,000¥)
  • Participation in the post-recital party (5,000¥)
  • Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expenses.

How to apply: send us an email at ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest.

Application deadline: June, 1st 2018

*Late applications will be considered only if places are still available.

 

 

INI – Summer Intensive Program 2017

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2017 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will take part in an intensive training period, during which they will study Noh chant and dance at the INI headquarters in Kyoto with Kongō school Noh actors Udaka Michishige, Udaka Tatsushige and Udaka Norishige. In addition, they will be able to observe the rehearsal and to attend the Udaka Seiran Noh performance. During the program, participants will learn about various aspects of noh, including masks and costumes. The program is coordinated by Dr Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University). Application deadline: May, 1st 2017.

Program highlights:

  • Train intensively in noh chant and dance, following the traditional methods of the Kongō school.
  • Practice in a small group at the okeikoba, private training space of a noh master, for an immersive experience.
  • Observe the rehearsals of a professional noh performance.
  • Watch two noh performances: at a Buddhist temple (free of charge) and at the Kongo Noh theatre (included in the participation fee)
  • Experience living in Kyoto, the heart of Japanese traditional culture.

INI SUMMER INTENSIVE PROGRAM 2017

Requirements: Anyone is welcome to join – no previous knowledge of Noh is required. Lessons are given in English and/or Japanese. Past year program attendees are entitled to the repeater discount of 10,000JPY, as shown below.

Capacity: 3-5 participants

Place: INI Training Space, Kyoto

Period: September 4 – 14 2017, every day

Fees (in Japanese yen)

Regular 60,000
Repeater 50,000

Fees include:

  • Regular: chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to their level), Udaka Seiran Noh ticket, INI certification of completion of the introductory course.
  • Repeater: chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to their level), Udaka Seiran Noh ticket, INI certification of completion of the intermediate course. Audiovisual materials to continue dance and chant practice from home.

Fees do not include:

  • Tabi white split-toe socks (around 700JPY)
  • Kongō-style Noh dance fan (5000JPY).
  • Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expenses.

Activities calendar: September 2017

Lessons will take place 10:00-15:00 at the INI training space in Iwakura, Kyoto.

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How to apply: send us an email at ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest.

Application deadline: May, 1st 2017

*Late applications will be considered only if places are still available. The program will be cancelled if it does not reach the minimum number of participants

 

INI trainees – Hana Lethen

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Hana Lethen

Hana Lethen lives in Texas and is a junior at Princeton University majoring in Comparative Literature, with a focus on Japanese and Russian language and culture. She spent her spring semester 2016 in Kyoto studying Japanese language, society, and traditional theater through Columbia University’s Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies.

Hana decided to take her exploration of Noh to a higher level, attending a number of performances along with fellow KCJS students, and also practicing Noh chant and dance with the INI. Here are a few insightful reflections on her experience.

Diego Pellecchia, INI Junior Director


Discovering Noh Through Dance

by Hana Lethen

When I asked Monica Bethe, the professor for a course on Noh that I took this past semester, for support regarding my final paper comparing ballet and dance in Noh theater, I was expecting book recommendations. So, I was a bit incredulous when she suggested that I take lessons— “the best way to learn is to dobut soon realized what a great opportunity had presented itself.

With an introduction and much help from Diego Pellecchia, who was co-teaching my Noh course, I went to okeiko every week during my last month in Kyoto. On the first day, I was very nervous. The only thing I knew to expect was that okeiko would be very different from practicing ballet, which I have done since I was five years old. I had an impression of Noh as a very traditional and elite art, so I expected okeiko to be somewhat rigid.

However, when I entered the okeikoba, I was surprised by the intimate and almost relaxed atmosphere. First, we spent about an hour having tea and chatting with Udaka-sensei, who, for all his talents and experience, was very kind and not at all intimidating. It was during this tea session that I began to realize that the constrained schedule of normal life does not apply to the okeikoba. Time here is fluid; okeiko starts and ends basically when Udaka-sensei deems appropriate. Noh is a combination of religious ritual and artneither of these can be rushed.

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Learning the hiraki kata

We began my first lesson with a bit of practice chanting the text which accompanied the dance from Tsurukame which I was to learn. I have always dreaded singing or speaking onstage, so my thoughts at this point were along the lines of “I came here to learn the dance, not the chanting…” But, I realized that a large part of the beauty of Noh comes from the unity of dance and poetic text, so I overcame my initial reservations.

Learning the dance, too, proved to be as much about “letting go” as it was about precisely learning the movements. Having extensive ballet experience was helpful in terms of coordination, but it also meant that I had some assumptions about dance lessons that were challenged in okeiko. At first, I somewhat expected Udaka-sensei to break down each movement for me, as a ballet teacher would do. More than this, however, my okeiko involved watching Udaka-sensei’s movements and imitating them as carefully as possible. Like much Japanese traditional fine art, dance in Noh is subtle, but expressive; restrained, but powerful. Although some movements felt unfamiliar, I tried to understand the general flow of the dance.

I was impressed by the atmosphere at the okeikoba of humility and of respect for the art of Noh. I was also touched by the attention Udaka-sensei devoted to each of his pupils—even to me, a complete novice. Reading and learning about Noh, and also seeing Noh performances, as part of my academic course was extremely valuable, but getting a small glimpse from the performer’s perspective in okeiko made Noh come alive for me in an entirely new, exciting way. Professor Bethe was right—I am not sure how I would have written my final paper for her and Diego’s course without firsthand experience of dance in Noh. And, ultimately, I gained much more from okeiko than a final paper. I developed very special appreciation for Noh through an experience that I would love to have again if I get the chance.

Thank you, INI!

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Chant lesson with Udaka Norishige

Only one position left – INI Summer Intensive Program 2016

If you are considering applying to the INI Summer Intensive Program, hurry up! There is only one position left before we close applications.

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2016 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will join INI members for a 2-week intensive training period. Read more: INI Summer Intensive Program 2016

INI Summer Intensive Program 2016

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2016 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will join INI members for a 2-week intensive training period, during which they will study Noh chant and dance at the INI headquarters in Kyoto with master-actor of the Kongō school, Udaka Michishige. During their stay, participants will be able to learn various aspects of noh, including masks and costumes.

Lessons follow the traditional methods of the Kongō school, providing participants with the unique chance of frequenting the okeikoba, private training space of a noh master, for an immersive experience.

Participants are also welcome to join the August 21st Kei’unkai-INI Gala Recital, along with Udaka Michishige’s international and Japanese students, on the prestigious stage of the Kongō Noh Theatre, in Kyoto.

INI SUMMER INTENSIVE PROGRAM 2016

Requirements: Anyone is welcome to join – no previous knowledge of Noh is required. Lessons are delivered in English and/or Japanese.

Capacity: 5 participants

Place: INI Headquarters, Kyoto

Period: August 1 – 14 2016

Fees (in Japanese yen)

Regular 60,000
Student 40,000
Recital at the Kongo Noh theatre (optional) 20,000
  • Participants are required to purchase separately the necessary personal items for noh practice: tabi white split-toe socks (around 700yen) and a Kongō-style Noh dance fan (5000yen).
  • Participants are required to arrange for their accommodation.

How to apply: send us an email at ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest.

Read impressions of the INI summer training from participants Sadia Gordon and Dorothee Neff.

Images from past events

 

 

INI summer training 2015 – introducing Dorothée Neff

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Dorothée Neff


Dorothée Neff is a young member of the Berliner Ensemble, the legendary theatre company founded by Bertolt Brecht in Berlin soon after the end of WWII. Dorothée has spent a month studying Noh with Udaka Michishige and the INI, seeking to expand her knowledge of performance beyond the boundaries of Western theatre. It has been a great pleasure to welcome her and see her develop dance and chant skills in such a short time. Sadia Gordon, whom we introduced in an earlier post, and Dorothée formed a great combo, helping each other as they moved through their first steps in the world of Noh. Below are some reflections she was kind enough to send us. I love the way she describes the INI as an intimate group in which the Noh tradition is transmitted from heart to heart, mind to mind, body to body.

Diego Pellecchia, INI  Junior Director


My first time in Japan, practicing Noh

by Dorothée Neff

 After performing in Robert Wilsons “Faust I & II” at the Berliner Ensemble, I very  much felt the desire to travel to Japan to learn more about Noh Theatre, since I could feel a very strong influence of Japanese culture and theatre on his theatrical work with us actors in Berlin. Before my first lesson at the Okeikoba, Diego Pellecchia introduced me and three of my fellow students to Japanese manners – how we should sit, greet, behave and talk in front of our teacher, Udaka Michishige. I soon realized that Japanese culture and Noh theatre go hand in hand together and I could never do one without being conscious about the other.

 The first day I went to the okeikoba, I entered a room with a wooden stage and a table in the front. It felt as if time passed slower. When entering and leaving the rehearsal room we would first take off our shoes in front of the rehearsal room, enter and kneel in front of Udaka Michishige and our fellow students, bow and thank them for giving us the chance to study with him. In doing so every day, I felt like I was entering a very new and unique place, very different from everything I knew before. In the same breath I felt the power of tradition and heritage and how important it is to have a sense of where one is coming from.

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From left to right, Sadia Gordon, Udaka Michishige, Dorothée Neff

 A very special time during my stay in Kyoto at the International Noh Institute was an intensive three day rehearsal period in Matsuyama with Udaka Michishige, Diego Pellecchia and Rebecca Ogamo Teele, during which I had the stage, time and support to practice “Shojo” intensively. Since every movement in Noh Theatre, every gesture is very slow, I felt how important it is to be completely aware and conscious, with all of my body and energy, how important it is to stretch out my body, to fill the room with my energy and spirit. What I enjoyed most was the chanting. First I needed time to grasp the different pitches and sounds when chanting Noh in Japanese, but after Matsuyama, I felt I became more familiar with the sounds and pitches. “Familiar” is definitely a word I would use when describing the INI. It is a very intimate, one-to-one teaching atmosphere, something I had searched for for a very long time, and never found back home, but found when I came to the INI in Kyoto. I only realized after leaving Kyoto how much I missed and longed for “time”, “traditions” and  “familiarity” as in a sense of trust and well-being based on a shared etiquette of respect.

 When I came back to Germany, my friends and family asked me what I learned and what I could take on board from Japan, but I never knew what to say in the beginning, although I knew there was something. But it wasn’t until an audition, when I felt how much time, and space I took when speaking, moving, breathing, and observing, that I knew what it was. A teacher once said to me: “A pianist would not leave out one note when playing Beethoven, so why would you, as an actress, rush through your lines?” And now, after coming back from Japan, I feel how much I enjoy saying my words, how important it is for me that those down stage understand what I mean. For the first time, there is space, and I take it, with all of me, my breath and soul and it feels alive.