On October 18, at the Kennedy Center’s generous invitation, students from our Japanese Plus and Japan in DC programs had the opportunity to experience a unique cultural event, called “Japanese Connections.” The program featured two ground-breaking Japanese artists. Kazunori Kumagai, a tap dancer, performed in collaboration with a jazz trio — Masa Shimizu (guitar), Samuel Torres (percussion), and special guest, Alex Blake (bass). Then virtuoso musician, Yumi Kurosawa, played the traditional koto with hip hop dancer and Dancing with the Stars contestant, Virgil Gadson. The performance took place in the Kennedy Center’s renovated Terrace Theater, and was a tribute to the government and people of Japan, who supported the original opening of the space. The impressive program demonstrated the power of artistic collaboration across cultures – and left our students amazed, emotionally moved, and motivated to learn more! For many of our students, this was their first visit to the Kennedy Center.
Even more exciting, before the performance, our students were treated to a special discussion with Kazunori Kumagai, who shared his inspirational life story and answered questions about his career pathway. He gave us a whole new way of understanding the art of tap dancing. Then the students heard from Reiko Sudo, a renowned Japanese textile artist responsible for the beautiful art installation, “Fantasy in Japan Blue,” on display at the Kennedy Center (October 3-November 12, 2017).