Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Martha Nishitani Interview
Narrator: Martha Nishitani
Interviewer: Sara Yamasaki
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 15, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nmartha-01-0041

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SY: What else inspires your choreography, besides now, motions and feelings and memories and nature, memories of your childhood at, playing in the yard?

MN: Well, sometimes a lovely piece of music. Like one time I was walking down the street, and I was going by the music store and I heard this wonderful piece of music. And I went in and bought it. And then I found out it was by Antonio Soler, a Spanish composer, and it was called "Primero Concerto." So I wrote to Spain, and we got copies of the music, sheet music. And it was for organ and piano. But when I premiered it, I had -- I was lucky to have two pianos. So (...) it's just a lovely dance and it's a pure dance; it has no, no subject matter. I dedicated it to my ballet teacher, Mary Anne Wells. She was teaching (ballet) for me at the time (...). Anyway, it's just a lovely piece of music, and it needed some lovely movements. So it has no story (at first).

SY: And when you say "pure dance," then do you mean that that's when there's no story or no message or...

MN: Well, yeah. And it's just lovely movement, and there is kind of a story. (...) It's for three girls, and then a fourth girl comes in. And it's kind of a friendship between girls, and then she leaves so that's, that's what it is about.

SY: This is, earlier you'd mentioned that modern dance now, or contemporary dance now, just entertains and whereas before, there would be a message that you'd leave with. Would you be, would it be fair to say that then, in many ways, contemporary dance now is pure dance?

MN: Well, yes. And it usually is rhythmic, quite rhythmic and, with a little jazz mixed up into it, but it isn't pure dance. Well, maybe it is pure dance, but usually it's, usually a fun thing, or it can have a dramatic aspect to it, too.

SY: Pure dance?

MN: (Yes). But I guess Soler, I call it "Primero Concerto," I guess it does have kind of a subject matter. It's a trio of girls, and then a fourth one comes in. And so they have a foursome and they dance and then the fourth girl leaves again. So it's kind of a story of friendship (...). But I mean, I think that comes through, but it doesn't have anything profound about it.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.