Interview with Miuyuki Matsunaga
Miyuki Matsunaga was born and raised in Fukuoka Japan. Though beginning at a late age of 19, through tremendous efforts and countless hours of practice, Miyuki became a solid member of M-Trap’s, a professional dance team, within one year. She performed throughout southern Japan for 8 years. While enhancing her abilities and skills as a dancer and singer, Miyuki was joined by two other singers and created a group called Girls-Trap’s, performing for TV, radio, events, and festivals.
During this time, as she was a conductor of the chapel choir at Seinan-Gakuin University, Miyuki started her own gospel group, performing for weddings and other events, meanwhile building a name as a host/Master of Ceremony of events and weddings throughout the city of Fukuoka. Later, winning a scholarship at an audition for a USA national dance program, Winners USA Dance Program, brought her to Los Angeles. There, Miyuki began her new life as well as her acting career. She worked for ‘Tales of the Valley of the Wind’, ‘1000 Ways to Die’ and ‘Exorcism’ and other projects of TV, movie and theater. She also works as a bilingual emcee for concert, music lives and party.
In 2005, Miyuki created her own performing art called Geta Dance – a dance style that blends elements of Japanese traditional dance, modern dance, and Japanese poetry; performing throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.Miyuki’s performances incorporate characteristics of traditional Japanese and Western styles, which are carefully choreographed into stories, also sharing the beauties of the Japanese culture. She is also currently working on composing contemporary Japanese music. Miyuki directed a musical for ‘Miracle Kids’ in 2010. ‘Miracle Kids’ is a group of special needs children and their friends and family. She currently has a dance/vocal class for special needs people and their family. She is also a bilingual dance and yoga/pilates teacher at the ABE Music & Dance School in Torrance. Miyuki enjoys different forms of art and spends time writing, graphic designing or shooting/editing videos and photos in her free time. Her goal of life is to become an artist who help/support children, animals and the earth.
Miyuki, it is a pleasure to be able to talk with you. You have an impressive background in the arts. When you were young is it an area that always held interest for you?
Yes! I always copied ballet dancers or figure skaters when I would watch TV when I was a child. Since my parents are really strict and we didn’t have many reasonable, easy dance classes in the suburb area where I lived in Japan, I had no chance to do anything about performing art till I was 19 years old.
Were you professionally trained in dance?
When I got chosen to be a member of a professional dance team I had to be trained in Jazz, Ballet, HipHop, Rock, Popping and Tap dancing. However, since it was a busy group, we had rehearsals every day for the weekend shows. That was my main training.
You were a member M-Trap while in Japan. What kind of performances did you do?
The team is called “M-Trap’s”. We were a performing group for events, parties, festivals and TV. Mainly Hip Hop Dance, Jazz and soul. I was also a member of a trio unit “Girl’s Trap’s” which is under the same management. I was performing as a “talent” (singer/dancer) and traveling around Kyusyu area in Japan.
You created an original style of performing art called “GETA DANCE” that incorporates elements of modern dance and Japanese traditional dance and Japanese poetry “Haiku”. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea and a little about it?
After the long time break (I didn’t do anything about performing arts for 6 years, kind of hiding that I was a dancer too.), I suddenly wanted to perform, and started monthly performance events at the 2nd street Jazz in Little Tokyo. When I began managing the events, I soon realized that audiences needed something really different and interesting. Then I came up with the Geta Dance. No one was doing that kind of thing because it’ broke all the traditional rules of Japanese dance. Also the Geta Tap of Ms.Barbara Uemura inspired me to dance on Geta.
What do you hope an audience member comes away with after seeing one of your performances?
I hope they feel something from the human story I perform, such as the happiness that comes from getting out of struggling, happiness by fighting with sorrow, happiness when you realized that your love was always by your side…. and so on. It is always a happy ending. It would also be great if people understood what I do as an art and not a dance breaking traditional rules. I respect traditional japanese dance butd mine is a totally different field of art.
How hard is to find a way to express yourself according to what you have on your mind?
It is not hard at all to express myself when I perform! You just move yourself or make a voice, that’s your expression.
What inspires you when creating a choreography and do you create choreography based on the dancers or do you expect the dancers to fit the choreography’s demands?
I watch so many you tube videos of many varieties of modern dance and Kabuki of Bando Tamasaburo. I guess some of my new movements got inspired by those videos. I create choreography based on the dancers. It is not easy to dance on GETA sandals.
Of all the styles of dance you are skilled in, what are your favorites?
Contemporary modern dance.
You recently were in the film, “Subprime Children” where you played a Geta Dancer. Can you tell us a little about your role and your experiences in film and television?
I am an actor and performed for some movie and TV (http://resumes.actorsaccess.com/miyukimatsunaga). I knew the director from his former movie and for this movie I choreographed for the main actress and we danced together.
You are also an Yoga and Pilates instructor. You stay very active. How do you stay physically fit?
Teaching Yogates (Yoga & Pilates) and dance helps me to stay fit as an actor and performing artist. That also helps to keep my brain clear. I have classes at ABE Music and Dance in Torrance on Tuesday and Thursday, Sakura Ballet Studio in West LA on Wednesday and also private classes.
Do you dance alone at home?
I practice dance at home.
Animals and children are important to you. What programs or events have you done to support your causes?
For the young victims of Tohoku earthquake in 2011, I have helped the events for
Japan America Society http://www.jas-socal.org/
Japan Rebuild Craft Cane Project with Cherry Blossom Festivals http://www.cherryblossomfestivalsocal.org/japan_rebuild.html
Kids Project Japan http://kidsprojectjapan.org/
Reach out to Japan http://www.reachouttojapan.org/
I support this programs Humane Society International http://www.hsi.org/
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/
Natural Resources Deffence Council http://www.nrdc.org/
Feeding America http://feedingamerica.org/
I have dance/vocals classes for Special Needs Children JSPACC http://www.jspacc.org/
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Keep doing whatever you do as long as that is your love.
Where can we go to find out more information about you?