Connecting through Dance: Aya Nakaguchi

SMC dancers explore movement along a right-angle grid in a rehearsal for student choreographer Aya Nakaguchi’s new, not-yet-titled work for Synapse Dance Theater in the Core Performance Center (CPC) on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Synapse Dance Theater will be presented on Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, on the SMC Broad Stage at the Performing Arts Complex (PAC) (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

SMC dancers explore movement along a right-angle grid in a rehearsal for student choreographer Aya Nakaguchi’s new, not-yet-titled work for Synapse Dance Theater in the Core Performance Center (CPC) on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Synapse Dance Theater will be presented on Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, on the SMC Broad Stage at the Performing Arts Complex (PAC) (Glenn Zucman/The Corsair)

The unspoken language of dance is universal — hip-hop dancer Aya Nakaguchi traveled from Ishikawa, Japan to study modern dance at Santa Monica College (SMC). Currently in her third year as a dance student at SMC, she has the honor of being a student choreographer for the college's Synapse Dance Theater, whose performance will first debut on Friday, May 24 at 7:30pm and on Saturday, May 25 at 4pm and 7:30pm at The Broad Stage at SMC's Performing Arts Center.

This is Nakaguchi’s first student piece in an SMC dance concert, as well as her first time choreographing a contemporary piece with a large group of 13 dancers. While still a work in progress, she reveals that the movement is inspired by fashion models, but the piece itself is inspired by life and the ups and downs the journey holds.

No matter what happens, we have to keep going as long as there is a point in front you

She discloses, “What I heard from my high school teacher, he said, he’s a math teacher, the line is not just a line, it’s formed by so many points. I think the points are the things you have to go through in your life and how you connect those points [to] create your own line, and it doesn’t have to be straight.”

Taking that inspiration into her own choreographic style, Nakaguchi is creating the piece on a rehearsal by rehearsal basis with her casts feelings and personal styles in mind, rather than providing a set combination of choreography. She is constantly newly inspired by fellow dancers and the changing world around her.

Giving more insight to the process, she says, “I came to rehearsal without anything and workshopped with them, trying to find the natural way to move for them, not only for me, cause they’re the ones dancing.”

Nakaguchi will be performing in a total of 3 pieces in the Synapse Dance Concert. She admits it’s tiring, but it’s clear that she absolutely loves everything she is doing.

“No matter what happens, we have to keep going as long as there is a point in front you,” she says with a smile.