My favorite auntie, Mayumi
Updated: Feb 8
Flashback from this summer in July.
It was a special day for my kids, Noa and Mona... AND ME. It was not only because they met a famous/legend ballerina, Yoko Morishita (definitely this is a part of it but...) it was because Noa and Mona met my beloved auntie, Mayumi Eda. Last time I saw her was 12 years ago very briefly when I had just had my first child, Noa. Mayumi has been working for the Matsuyama Ballet company in Tokyo for almost a good 4 decades. At first she was a young innocent ballerina like everybody else, then already in her mid 20s, she was a character dancer, playing roles like the Nanny in Romeo & Juliet and danced with Rudolf Nureyev etc.. then she was promoted to the position of ballet mistress. I don’t exactly know what her job duties are now but basically she is the closest person to the director, so she does everything from coaching dancers to marketing for the company. Before I moved to Europe at 16, this “Matsuyama Ballet “ was a place of longing like a dream, above all my auntie was for me the coolest, gentle and most respected hero - more than anyone else and I was also expected to be the next star dancer. At the age of 10, I started to commute between my hometown, Nagano and Tokyo every weekend to receive private lessons from Mikiko Matsuyama (founder of the Matsuyama ballet alongside Masao Shimizu) my auntie Mayumi and sometimes even Yoko Morishita. I used to take a night train back on Sunday to Nagano then from the station I went straight to school on Monday morning. I got a scholarship to study Ballet in Hamburg, and at the very beginning I used to send reports and posed dance pictures of me to Mayumi and the director of the company, Tetsutaro Shimizu. After 6 months I got a contract in the Hamburg Ballet company. In summertime which is the off-season I always went back home but more than staying with my parents in the countryside I loved joining the rehearsals and spending days in the studio at the Matsuyama Ballet for the first 2-3 years. In those days, after work my auntie, Mayumi and the director and Yoko plus usually another 1 or 2 guests went out for dinner.
One day, around noon I left the studio early (I told them that was I going to get a massage - when you say going to the massage or body treatments, you have a excuse to be absent) and I met an old friend and then I went back to the studio around the time that the rehearsal ended. I don’t remember if we went out for dinner that day but we were in the taxi on our way home, Mayumi asked me “where have I been today?” I said “I was meeting my friend, eating lunch and walking around Shibuya, Harajuku and talking and talking!” My auntie said “You are stupid, what a waste!” Then, I said “what is wrong with having fun with my friend, what is wrong if I don’t practice or watch rehearsal one day, I am not paid and I do things besides dancing!” My auntie was clearly hurt and shocked. She was forgetting how it was to be 18, she was forgetting the freedom. She didn't speak any words after that. That moment, we both realized that I had become westernized, that I had an opinion and I would not fit any more inside the narrow box of the company culture & abnormal Samurai spirit. That ended our relationship. There are a lot of untold stories that can't be revealed in this space and a lot of #metoo type stuff that went on there. The real mystery for me is why my beautiful and most sweet hearted auntie had decided to stay there? Why? Why? Why?
Mayumi once had a wonderful husband but he left, maybe because he felt she was married to her work. However, I am here because of these experiences and those are exciting and art can be so extreme and it should be. This time, we visited during a rehearsal so my auntie, Mayumi was too busy as usual and didn’t have a chance to talk but I was able to take this picture and she gave me a chunk of cash for my husband Nathan Buck's movie. ...... I want to make a film about this one day.
— with Nathan Buck.