Relay de ‘Sienne
Shibuki: I owe a lot to you, Mieko-sensei (Matsumoto), for how you helped me during the Berlin Tour (1). But soon after you were in the hospital, so I thought I would borrow you for this article to say my thanks…
Matsumoto: (laughs). But you were very splendid.
Shibuki: You taught me how to move my hands and feet… Even on the plane on the way to Berlin (laughs).
Matsumoto: I was also surprised on the plane (laughs). We were next to each other on the flight, and you said “May I?” and started rummaging through your bag, so I thought you were going to pull something good out, but with a rustle: a hand fan (laughs).
Matsumoto: And then you disappeared somewhere, and you were in the washroom (laughs).
Shibuki: In front of the washroom mirror, I checked my posture on what you had just taught me (laughs).
Matsumoto: Then you would come back still in that position and ask: “How is this?” (laughs)
Shibuki: It’s because you never once made a face of distaste that I’ve been told how wonderful the nihon-mono was.
Matsumoto: At the end of that show, when you came out carrying the ''keyari'' (2), I thought, “You’re beautiful, Rika-chan.” When someone has no confidence, their face is never beautiful. That’s why it was so amazing.
Shibuki: Not at all. We otokoyaku don’t want to disappoint you, Mieko-sensei, so when we have the opportunity to work with you, we rise up.
Matsumoto: Is that so? (laughs)
Shibuki: When the Berlin Tour began I wasn’t composed at all, but you had a look on your face that said “it’s all right”, and I was very reassured.
Matsumoto: Of course, when the otokoyaku look splendid, the musumeyaku can look cute.
Shibuki: That’s true. We’re all women, so I think it’s our own power when we act as otokoyaku, which is our craft. So it’s the musumeyaku supporting us which lets us look more manly. Because I had such a great person supporting me…
Matsumoto: Only great in age (laughs).
Shibuki: What are you saying? (laughs) I was with you in New York, London, and Berlin, so I never thought I would be allowed to dance with you again (3).
Matsumoto: In Berlin I said to you, “You don’t need to do anything more.” That’s because just standing, you were projecting a marvelous feeling, and I thought it would be better than going all out. And then after that, at this recent recital, truly when you pulled off one layer and then another, and just stood there and had the presence of a star, I thought it was amazing.
Shibuki: That must be because the Berlin performance was a huge experience.
Matsumoto: We owe a debt of gratitude to that place. To that theatre and that applause.
Shibuki: Yes. In Berlin I really felt like Mieko-sensei and everyone was wrapping me in their presence.
Matsumoto: That’s because everyone felt the atmosphere of helping you to stand.
Shibuki: Because I couldn’t do much (laughs).
Matsumoto: That’s not right at all.
Shibuki: And after that you had your throat operation, and everyone sent you flowers and letters. I sent you two…
Matsumoto: I received your letters (laughs).
Matsumoto: They were very cute (laughs).
Shibuki: I wrote them with my heart beating fast.
Matsumoto: Thank you (laughs). But this time when we danced together in “Ima Sumire Hana Saku”, I thought you’d gotten bigger.
Shibuki: Not at all (laughs). But this time when we were being taught the choreography for “Ima--”, all of the things which you had taught me on the plane accumulated and I felt that this time it was different.
Matsumoto: You don’t want to overestimate your abilities, but I think self-confidence is especially important.
Shibuki: I caused you a lot of trouble, but that time on the plane was truly very valuable to me. I was very glad I had my hand fan with me (laughs). So when we go to this new performance I’ll put a fan in my bag (laughs).
Matsumoto: This time we’re going to Tokyo, so you only have 50 minutes (laughs).
Shibuki: Short-term concentration (laughs). Speaking of the Berlin performance, something I’ll never forget…
Matsumoto: From the time we arrived, every day was hot (laughs).
Shibuki: Just before that, an assistant had come from Berlin and she told us it was cold there, and to definitely bring a coat. So that’s how I prepared and I had no T-shirts with me at all…
Matsumoto: It felt like it was the middle of the summer (laughs). I was worried about sunburn and my stage makeup coming off, so I covered up with a thin scarf (laughs). I threw away that embarrassment from the trip (laughs).
Shibuki: It wasn’t a “Machiko wrap” (4) – your whole face was shrouded (laughs).
Matsumoto: Everyone turned to look. But they couldn’t see our faces, so they said, “Are they really so beautiful?” as they walked past (laughs).
Shibuki: I really am so happy to be able to put on a show with you in the new theater here at the beginning of the 21st century…
Matsumoto: Recently, we went to look at the theater, and it really did raise my tension.
Shibuki: There’s always tension on the first day, isn’t there? All we did was hear the music and lyrics, but I broke out in goose flesh. And then to be allowed the privilege of dancing with Ishii-sensei (Kasugano) and Mieko-sensei… I think being able to watch your forms as you dance is a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone in Moon Troupe. For me to have that chance yet again… makes me very happy.
Matsumoto: Of course the forms of Japanese dance are different, but for someone like you who can dance so well, the body movement points are the same, so you learn quickly.
Shibuki: But truthfully, Japanese dance and I don’t get along well (laughs). When I went to my first Japanese dance lesson as a yokasei in Takarazuka Music School, I didn’t know how to put on the kimono or tie the obi…
Matsumoto: Because you were a ballerina.
Shibuki: At that first Japanese dance lesson, the teacher said to me: “It’s as if a jumbo baby had come in wearing a kimono.” (laughs)
Shibuki: Since then I felt that I didn’t have the body to dance Japanese dance. But when Mieko-sensei taught me, the “ni” character in “Nihon” that I never understood before became the “ni” position on the dotted line (5), and from then on it was as if I could feel the enjoyments, difficulties, and deep feelings.
Matsumoto: When you yourself think “it’s not fitting together perfectly”, the people watching it get a bad sense from the performance.
Shibuki: You taught me to create the acting, singing, and Japanese dancing together as if they were a circle, which made a lasting impression on me. After all, I thought, isn’t everything a circle in the end? Even my face is a big circle (laughs).
Shibuki: I constantly wish my heart was better rounded…
Matsumoto: That’s particularly important for Takarazuka, isn’t it? Takarazuka is very much like a family, for everyone. I think that’s the same no matter the troupe. It’s no different for any of the seito in Takarazuka.
Shibuki: That’s so. Particularly when everyone helped me to stand at the center in Berlin, and up to now there are so many things which have been done for me that I never even saw. Thank you so much for coming today when you’re so busy. To be able to talk so lightheartedly with you, when I feel it’s been so lo~ng since we were together for the Berlin performance, makes me very happy.
Matsumoto: And we both know what the other is missing (laughs).
Shibuki: (laughs). It’s terrible, isn’t it, that we both have no ear for music (laughs) (6)? It’s fairly rude, but I feel like we’re a bit alike (laughs).
Shibuki: That came to light during the Berlin performance (laughs). I’m sure I’ll be pestering you with many more things this time, but please bear with me.
Matsumoto: I as well. I look forward to watching you grow quickly from now on, with the pleasure of family.
(1) The Berlin Performance was an international tour in 2000, where Takarazuka performed in Berlin. It was a mixed group from several troupes, and Rika had top billing.
(2) A ''keyari'' is a feather-topped lance used in precessions.
(3) Here Rika is referring to the upcoming performance of ''Ima Sumire Hana Saku'', which was a special performance put on by Moon Troupe in January of 2001, and marked the first performance in the new Tokyo Theater. Kasugano Yachiyo, Matsumoto Yuri, and Todoroki Yuu performed with Moon Troupe.
(4) “Machiko-wrap” is a way of tying the scarf under your chin so it covers your hair.
(5) I admit to absolute puzzlement on this one. They’re referencing the character 日, but I have no idea what that has to do with lines. Maybe the markings for the dance steps?
(6) I wasn’t sure whether to translate this as the stronger “tone deaf” or not, so I went for the softer sounding “no ear for music”. Either way, that’s very interesting…