‘Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!’: Ryuichi Fujimura’s autobiographical piece in dance

Ryuichi Fujimura's 'Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!'.
Ryuichi Fujimura's 'Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!'.

Showcasing this August 11 – 13, FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres presents Dance Bites 2022 season – Let’s DANCE – a double-bill by Chris Chua (BeatStorm) and Ryuichi Fujimura (Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!).

Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! is the last chapter of Fujimura’s HERE NOW Trilogy made up of three autobiographical solos, including How Did I Get Here? (2015) and How I Practice My Religion (2017), which are Fujimura’s first two works and will be performed at The Old Fitz Theatre, 2 – 6 Augusta week prior to his season at Riverside Theatres August 11 – 13.

In the lead up to the event, Dance Informa caught up with Fujimura, to chat about the art form of dance, stand-up comedy and the art of storytelling. 

At age 57, inspiration is strong. Drawing concepts from dance movies like Fame, Flashdance and Footloose, Fujimura will take to the stage in a quest to find an answer to the fundamental question: ‘Why perform?’ Humorous and poignant, the piece is deemed a sincere autobiographical solo – a self-devised performance work that embraces storytelling and anecdotes from of personal failures. Collaborating with video artist Laura Turner, lo-fi animation will be used to create various projected images on a soundtrack including classic rock tunes and a nod to independent American cinema. 

Ryuichi Fujimura's 'Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!'.
Ryuichi Fujimura’s ‘Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!’.

Describe your love for Fame, Flashdance and Footloose. What is it in particular about these films that captivated you?

“Having lived through the 1980s in my youth, I like the pure earnestness the heroes in those ‘80s dance flicks possess in their pursuit of success. Among them, Fame has a special place in my heart. Unlike other dance films, which are more or less fantastical, I like Fame for its more realistic portrait of young artists.”

When you arrived in Australia, you were a junior diplomat. How did you start your original career path, and how did you move into dancing and storytelling? What caused the shift?

“This was more than 30 years ago. I joined the foreign service because I had never been outside of Japan, and the job would take me out of the country. My first posting was Melbourne, in which I discovered dance through a lunch time dance class (which is the subject of my older solo, How I practice my religion). I missed Australia and dance so much, so I left the foreign service and migrated to Australia after completing another posting.”

Talk to us about what you’ve learnt about story telling and stand-up comedy? How does this feed into your work?

“I did a weekend course on stand-up comedy, and it was fun. I used to think that stand-up comedy was just an act of telling a string of silly jokes, but I now see it as an art form in which you can share your personal stories with your audience. The course helped me to infuse my stories of failure and disappointment with humour when writing them for Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!

Ryuichi Fujimura's 'Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!'.
Ryuichi Fujimura’s ‘Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!’.

I love storytelling events such as the Moth (open-mic storytelling competition) and Story Club (a club where true stories told around a theme from a broad range of people). In this work, I wanted to merge two art forms – open-mic style storytelling and contemporary dance. At the beginning of my process, I wrote three stories. I told two of them for the Moth StorySlam in which 10 contestants tell their personal stories for five minutes and receive scores from a panel of judges. Both times, I ranked the second.”

How did Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! develop? 

“I have been making Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! for nearly four years now while involved in other performance projects. It has become kind of my pet project. This work examines the performer/audience relationship through my personal anecdotes of failure and disappointments.

While developing this work, I have done a number of work-in-progress showings in a variety of settings for different types of audience, ranging from a traditional studio showing for the contemporary dance audience to an underground warehouse party, to a Melbourne Writers Festival event at a museum for book worms. Performing for a variety of audience and receiving feedback from them has become an integral part of the process of developing this work.

“The other influence for making this work was Frances Ha, an American indie movie made in 2013. Frances, the main character of the movie played by Greta Gerwig, is an aspiring apprentice in a modern dance company who wants to become a full-time company dancer but is not cut out for the job. At the end, she finds her own voice, and I can relate to her story very much (even though I am 30 years older than she is).”

'Let's DANCE' double-bill.
‘Let’s DANCE’ double-bill.

Can you give us a little insight into the question, ‘Why perform?

“Yes. I often wonder myself why I have this strong desire to perform while I am quite introverted by nature. Is it the applause from the audience or the bright spotlight? I don’t know the answer yet, but making Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! is my attempt to interrogate and explore this question.”

It’s rare that artists have the opportunity to be sincere through autobiographical pieces in dance. What sentiment or experience do you hope the audience to walk away with?

“In Fall! Falter!! Dance!!!, I recite three personal episodes of failure and disappointments. Those experiences are specific to me being a performer, but the emotions behind those experiences are universal. I hope that people can relate to my stories whether they are performers or not. I really want to show Fall! Falter!! Dance!!! to people in all walks of life. Even though I tell my stories as a dancer, I believe that my stories of failures and disappointment are relatable and hope that my dance is enjoyable to my audience.”

FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres will present Dance Bites 2022, featuring double-bill Let’s DANCE, this August. For performance details, visit: riversideparramatta.com.au/show/lets-dance-chua-fujimura.

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa. 

To Top