Feedback from the students and participants.
By Marc Ramos (Barcelona, Spain)
August 15th, 2017
Mi nombre es Marc y bailo lindy hop en Barcelona. Antes de viajar a Japón este verano estuve buscando lugares donde bailar swing en Tokio. Me puse en contacto con Hiro Yamada, coordinador de la Tokio(Tokyo in English) Swing Dance Society (TSDS) y enseguida me recomendó asistir a su clase y a una fiesta durante mi semana de estancia en Japón.
La clase de swing que impartió Hiro en la capital nipona fue una experiencia enriquecedora. Me permitió ver en primera persona cómo se desarrolla en una ciudad con una cultura tan distinta a la mía una clase de swing, y me lo pasé muy bien. Además incluía, en el descanso de la misma, un pequeño aperitivo. Durante el receso pude hablar con ellos y me explicaron donde bailaban y un poco la historia de cómo nació todo. Las instalaciones de la clase eran buenas y repasó desde los pasos básicos, a distintos tiempos y pasos intermedios. La clase depende siempre del nivel de los alumnos.
Ya me avisaron de que no sería una fiesta cualquiera,era una ocasión especial. Consiguieron juntar a unos músicos estupendos, trompetista, saxòfon, bateria, teclado y a una cantante. Además, antes del concierto nos juntamos todos para comer tapas de diversos tipos, quesos, ensalada búlgara, y luego arroz con curry thai de tres sabores! Un manjar. Además tenían vino español de muy buen sabor, no es que sea experto, pero todo estaba delicioso.
La fiesta se llevó a cabo en el piso inferior, los músicos tocaron temas clásicos de jazz y swing y bailamos lindy hop a su son. Me lo pasé muy bien. Los músicos eran realmente buenos y el sonido me hizo bailar y vibrar con mucha alegría. No pensé encontrar una fiesta así, pero gracias a la generosa invitación de Hiro pude disfrutar como nunca en Tokio del swing. Una experiencia inolvidable.
By Duncan Echelson (The United States of America)
February 15th, 2015
Hiro Yamada is my Lindy Hop teacher and that is very fortunate for me. He is that rare combination of talented dancer and teacher who is able to instruct with great skill, patience and keen powers of observation. He provides precise advice tailored for each of his students.
For the past three and a half months, I have been studying and practicing Lindy hop in Hiro and Yuko’s group lessons on Sunday afternoons and taking private lessons with Hiro. The combination of group lessons and private lessons has been working quite well.
In the group lessons, you learn the outlines of dance steps and can practice with a variety of partners. In the private lessons, Hiro helps you understand the routines with greater precision. Moreover, in the private lessons, each routine is practiced repeatedly under his watchful eye and corrected gently, but firmly. Of course, you are able to ask questions and receive clear answers. Hiro speaks English very well.
Let me explain that I started studying Lindy Hop at a rather advanced age (70 years old) and have many bad dance habits from decades of ‘just doin it.’ In addition, I rather stubbornly demand to go at my own turtle’s pace. Hiro has the patience and good nature to work successfully with someone like me.
When I return to Texas, I will continue my dance studies with other teachers while looking forward to my return to Japan to study more with Hiro. I will also be looking forward to returning to the group lessons where the graceful and knowledgeable Yuko Kato teaches with Hiro and so many wonderful students practice. All in the group are very accepting and helpful.
The private lessons take place at Hiro’s Necola dance studio which has an excellent dance floor and large mirrors. It is conveniently located in the center of Tokyo within easy walking distance of two subway stations. The studio is located right across the street from a wonderful large garden with a rich history.
Without hesitation, I recommend Hiro Yamada’s group and private lessons to anyone who wants to study the fun and dynamic Lindy Hop.
If you have any questions or concerns, you have my permission to ask Hiro for my contact information.
P.S. Hiro and Yuko also organize great dance parties.
By Kemper Talley (The United States of America)
April 21st, 2012
When I found out that I would be traveling to Tokyo for a business trip, I also looked into the swing dancing I could do there. I talked to several people back in the states, and they told me that there was a scene in Tokyo. I looked up the TSDS in advance and e-mailed Hiro about the dancing. He responded with a very welcoming e-mail and provided all of the details I needed!
It took me quite a while to find the place, but when I arrived at the swing dance lesson on Sunday I was greeted warmly. Everyone was warming up already since I had arrived late, but almost everyone stopped to talk to me; it was great! After warming up, Hiro proceeded to lead the lesson off with basic movement. I thought it was going to be very easy and just practicing footwork. Little did I realize that the concept of basic movement I had was very different from Hiro’s and everyone else in the room! It was hard work to move my body in the precise ways that the lesson demanded. This really stretched my understanding of what it meant to be a dancer rather than just someone who was pulling off moves.
The technique work that was the focus of the first 45 minutes of the lesson was by far the most challenging technique work I had ever done. I learned a lot from it, and I have taken it back to my scene in Knoxville, Tennessee in the USA. Everyone I have talked to about the lessons have also talked about how much the basic movement helps their dancing. The focus on my basic movement so that everything else I do in my dancing becomes more controlled and precise was taught by Hiro really well, and it will probably shape my dancing for the rest of my life.
The next lessons were about Lindy hop, and while I felt they were easier, I still learned many things and enjoyed the lesson! I had to focus on putting what I had just learned about basic movement, frame, and weight shifts into my dancing. I didn’t realize how much of my dancing was affected by these things until it was pointed out.
I really enjoyed the private lesson as well. Yuko and Hiro both worked on correcting my posture and movement so that things felt more natural. This was especially true of the swing out. I learned a lot about stretching out and presenting the moves, not just leading them. The positions of my feet on the floor and how the connection was communicated through my arms were some areas that I needed help on, and both Hiro and Yuko were very helpful! While the moves I was working on were basic, getting the right technique down was vital to making everything look and feel better!
After the public and private lessons, I had planned to go to Kyoto. Hiro offered to take me to the Tokyo train station! The three of us: Yuko, Hiro, and myself; went to the station and a restaurant! It was really nice to have someone explain a lot of the dishes to me and help me try so many different things! The hospitality of Hiro and Yuko was wonderful!
When I came back to Tokyo from Kyoto, I went to the Wednesday night dance. It took me a little while to find as well, but it was a wonderful venue! I really enjoyed dancing with the people in Tokyo. Everyone was very kind and a lot of fun to dance with! I was happy to be able to use what I had learned in the lessons and to continue working on everything. I won’t ever forget my time with the TSDS in Tokyo. I had so much fun and learned so much. It made me even more passionate about swing dancing, and I have been able to take what I have learned and pass it on to others!
I hope to come back to Japan in the coming years, and I especially look forward to coming back to the TSDS, the wonderful people, Hiro, Yuko, and all of the great dancing!
By Murrough OBrien (The United Kingdom)
April 29th, 2010
I came to Japan for 3-month visit to deepen my practice of Japanese martial arts, but I also felt the need to start dancing, as this is something I – as a rule – don’t do. I found the TSDS website quite by chance and, having been curious to try swing in the past, I thought I would go along and give it a go, with promises of ‘English spoken’.
I came to a class in a nicely sized studio, and was warmly received. I found Hiro-san to be an incredibly good teacher. I had no prior knowledge of dance teachers, but he has incredible body control and is very energetic, helpful and generous with his knowledge and experience. Personally, having a background in martial arts, but also having postural trouble following an accident, I found his technical direction helped me address the issue and become more acutely aware of how I use my body/musculature/skeletal structure. And while this sounds all very intricate, the class was lots and lots of fun, too!
Yuko-san – who assists – is also very friendly and a great teacher in her own right. As swing is led by the man, it is quite hard to learn how to do anything without a patient partner. She was very patient and very helpful, and adept at ‘leading’ me to lead by being such an aware follow. Both of them are very patient, but will put your posture and footwork right, to ensure good basics which will ultimately lead to good dancing. They work very well together as a team, and in the brief glimpses of them dancing together to demonstrate technique, you can see they share great communication and understanding.
I leave Japan next week, so no more of their class for me, but I will send people to TSDS classes from London, and I will definitely miss my Sunday afternoon pastime, and all the lovely members of the class.
Go! Swing out!