TOKYO JAZZ DOCUMENT
UK-style – or ‘Bebop’ - Jazz Dance in Japan has been, and continues to be a unique expression of grassroots cultural exchange between the UK and Japan for over 25 years, since curious, intrepid Japanese dancers went exploring the underground clubs of London in the mid to late 1980s, bringing home a style of jazz dancing that has endured and continued to remain underground, while ever evolving in new and fresh ways.
I fell into this scene by chance 8 years ago, stumbling on Tokyo’s longest running UK-style Jazz Dance night, Bebop Square and fell in love with the dancing. I began to photograph the dancers in their natural habitat - the intense, electric club nights where this hypnotic, supremely creative and eclectic style really comes alive. Besides the constant threat of being accidentally hit or kicked, it is never an easy task, in often dark and dingy clubs, faced with sudden flashes of light, harsh interiors and constantly spinning and failing dancers: like trying to catch and bottle a brilliant thought or a sudden delicious aroma.
The photos here are not an exhaustive record of this scene, nor are they meant to be. Many dancers have still to be photographed, many have still yet to begin dancing this style, many have put their jazz shoes away in favour of other styles or a different way of life.
The bulk of this project is an attempt to document - in a portrait style - some of the major dancers still dancing that have passed through the ranks of the scene, much like the generations of a family, and to capture them for the briefest moments in time doing what they do best – dancing UK-style Bebop Jazz Dance.