Interviewer: Public Relations Office
For this edition, we interviewed Professor Yoko Goto of the Health and Physical Education Program in the Faculty of Education.
- Could you tell us about the practice of gymnastics for health that you are currently working on?
Goto:The field of gymnastics is a very broad one, ranging from competitive gymnastics to gymnastics for health, which does not involve competition. In gymnastics for health, Gymnastics Festivals are held as a kind of recital. They are a way of encouraging the general public to get involved in this activity. For people already doing gymnastics for health, these recitals are a way to raise their motivation and give them the opportunity to interact and talk to each other. In Mie Prefecture as well, an annual health gymnastics event is held in the form of the Mie Sports Festival.
-What kind of benefits does gymnastics for health bring?
Goto:Exercise in sport concentrates on the specific movements for that sport, so there is a bias toward certain movements. Gymnastics for health involves a combination of movements to get all parts of the body moving without exception, so uses the whole body evenly. Another feature of gymnastics is that you can adjust your movements freely to suit your own condition.
Gymnastics classes and gatherings also create a community in which participants can interact and exchange information with others. Participation also has mental health benefits by making you realize that you are not alone, that you'll be able to meet your friends again that day.
-What can people who are not good at dancing and gymnastics do to enjoy dancing?
Goto:If you don't feel confident, don't force yourself and instead just do a sport that suits you. However, I really recommend dance and gymnastics for people who do not have a sport they are good at. Unlike other sports, there is no need to decide on a winner and loser, they are not confined to a certain location or number of participants, and there is no need to conform to set rules. There are plenty of gymnastics classes nearby, so it is easy to start whenever you want to and arrange things to your own situation. I think that gymnastics and dance can be thought of as a way of making your life richer.
-How did you come to think up the choreography for the Tokowaka Dance for the Mie Tokowaka Kokutai (National Sports Festival)?
Goto:Mie Prefecture will host the National Sports Festival and National Para Sports Festival in 2021, and I was approached by the Prefecture's Regional Cooperation Department in 2017 to create a dance for the festivals. It usually takes me anything from six months to a year to create a dance, with plenty of trial and error along the way. On this occasion, however, I only had a month to complete it, so I created an easy version for small children of lower elementary school age and younger and a standard version for everyone else. Later, we filmed the dance, mainly using instructors from Mie Actors Studio, which we posted on the Mie Prefecture website, as well as producing a DVD. The DVD has been distributed to schools in the prefecture.
I was also asked for a dance that could be performed sitting down, so I created a sit-down version in 2019. The prefecture also created a sign language version of the song, so a new version featuring the sit-down dance and the sign-language song was also released.
-What concept did you have in mind for the choreography?
Goto:My concept was "to dance brightly and energetically to the best of one's ability." The music is wonderful and the lyrics included words like "Tokowaka habatake (Spread your wings, Tokowaka)" and "Minna no e-ru ga todoku (Everyone's cheers will be heard)," so I added moves to match those lyrics. The easy version is for small children, so I did not include any complex steps or movements. Instead, from a growth and development perspective, I concentrated on big movements, such as jumping and leaping with the whole body. I hope that, when they finish dancing, children will feel a real sense of achievement at having danced with all their might. For the standard version, it would not be very interesting if it could be learned quickly, so I incorporated some slightly more complex steps and moves that required cooperation with others.
-What kind of people do you want to do the Tokowaka Dance?
Goto:I would love everybody to do it, both regular dancers and people who do not dance much. It is a simple dance, so it would make me happy if they took it on as a way of getting fit. It would be lovely if people could learn the dance and use it even after the Festival is over as a kind of warm-up exercise.
-Could you tell us some of your future goals and initiatives?
Goto: I personally love the genres that involve moving my body to music, such as gymnastics and dance. So, as much for my own sake as well, I want to create different works and develop various activities. Gymnastics lessons for fitness are meant to be delivered for students from elementary to senior high school, but it has not been positioned very well in the education system. Teachers on the ground tell me that they do not have enough information to develop lessons, so I would like to explore methods, including the use of the internet, that will enable them to obtain that kind of information easily.
I also want to create gymnastics routines that use everyday items around the house so that everybody can dance, do gymnastics, and get fit easily. So far, I have come up with routines that use a variety of tools, including laundry nets, balloons, scarves, and sneakers. I want to find materials at home centers and the like that will inspire movements and use them in gymnastics.
About the Researcher
Health and Physical Education Program in the Faculty of Education
Professor Yoko Goto
Research of gymnastics/dance exercise study materials and teaching methods
Faculty of Education website http://www.edu.mie-u.ac.jp/en/