Owner, choreographer, director, and communications manager at The Bambiest. Imari Suganuma does it all from set construction and imagery to the costumes and even publicity. She makes use of an array of environments, including museums and commercial spaces, to create new worlds for her productions that combine the chic and sparkle of Kabuki and musicals with the sharp stoicism of contemporary dance.
“As a student, dance design enchanted me, overtaking my passion for even dance itself,” Suganuma says. She’s been dancing most of her life, starting at four-years-old, and she ventured into dance production when she was a junior in high school. Her goal to become a comprehensive dance producer took her to London where she studied visual graphics after graduating from her Japanese university.
“Galleries and fashion shows were free. However, while one must pay to see a performance at a theater, I thought some of them were not good at communicating the very ideas behind the percormances via media such as posters or pamphlets. When I looked at western dance companies such as Pina Bausch and Rosas I saw some brilliant uses of them. Also, other students I met abroad offered insightful artistic observations. Their questions as people who understand my work temper me as an artist.”
In school, Suganuma held dance productions for friends and classmates called The Bambiest. Once, a member of Takarazuka Revue Company staff reached out to her following the show, leading to a choreography position upon her return to Japan.
“It feels like a summoning when a person from the famous Takarazuka hits me with a line like, ‘Why not try to transform the revue into something more stylish?’ When I started the project, I felt like it’s a very different industry. That was because, compared with a production of a contemporary dance performance, that of Takarazuka stage art required more speed and one should be capable of multi-tasking. Also, I found it interesting that there was a kind of format to produce a performance as fast as possible both in terms of dance and music. The experience broadened my horizons and I leaned so many things throughout the project. I was amazed by the fact that Takarazuka’s inspiring, real entertainmet stood on its accumulation of the know-how throughout the history for the speedy production of the performances. And I realized that it was that history that could turn entertainment into art.
Since her debut, Suganuma has consistently focused on how art, music, and fashion relate to her work. She continues to bring in audiences that don’t have a familiarity with dance culture. Her vision for dance is something of a Glitz Blitz to change the world of expression and excite the senses while giving the audience space to breathe.
Words: Chie Sumiyoshi
- Imari Suganuma, Producer and Choreographer
Born in Tokyo. After graduating from the Western Dance Department at Nihon University College of Art, she stared her own company while attending Central St. Martins in London. Her broad experience includes collaborating with various companies such as Shiseido Cosmetics, Ikea, Tokyu Bunkamura, as well as choreography for Taichi Saotome. President of The Bambiest.