Dolphin Dance Project

When the Dolphin Dance Project begins, it is welcomed by a pod of more than 300 dolphins as one of their own. The boat is surrounded by dolphins, leaping, playing – they ride the bow wave of the boat, even turning on their side to see us better. Mothers and aunties bring their babies to have a look. Even our local boat captain and videographer were amazed.
– From the Dolphin Dance Project site.

Watching this video, what’s really amazing to me is the incredibly trusting nature of these dolphins. I wonder why they don’t consider the boat and the humans in it as potential predators? There’s something amazing and quite moving about this trust, but it is also quite sad when you think how easily and how often this trust is betrayed.

This image from Dolphin Dance Project.

One of the many arguments against the building of the Kyoto Aquarium is the issue of cruelty to animals, specifically dolphins. The building of a dolphinarium for “edutainment purposes” is a central aspect of the building plans and having seen those plans I can tell you that the space allotted for the dolphins is clearly both constrictive and cruel. Research has proven that dolphins are both intelligent animals capable of self-awareness, abstract thought, and creativity. They are also emotional animals that exhibit profound familial and social bonds. Some scientists have even suggested they should be considered “non-human persons” and afforded rights equivalent to our own. In other words, we ought to treat them better than taking them out of their natural habitat, confining them in pools and using them purely for our own entertainment.

Here's a screenshot from the architects plans(click to see it larger). Note the dolphin ふれあい pool on the left where children may touch the dolphins.

Many of the postcards designed by Kawagoe Yoshio-san for the anti-aquarium campaign, depict dolphins, and frequently with a message that reads “君とは海で会いたい!” – I want to meet you in the ocean! This message that we should encounter wild creatures such as dolphins in their natural habitat and not in an entirely artificial environment is a strong one. So it seemed serendipitous that Chisa Hidaka the director of the Dolphin Dance Project should offer to show her short movie “Together” at the “Voices for Umekoji” event on Friday. The message is essentially the same.

Chisa Hidaka

Dancer and choreographer, Chisa Hidaka, initiated the Dolphin Dance Project in order to promote inter-species understanding. Having encountered dolphins in the wild, Chisa became intrigued by the similarities between dolphin play and human dance and began a project of filming inter-species improvised dance as a means of profound communication. The debut film, ‘Together: Dancing with Spinner Dolphins,’ won ‘Best Experimental Film’ at its world premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival. This film shows a human dancer and a wild spinner dolphin dancing playfully together beneath the waves. Though short, it is beautiful to watch and leaves you wanting more. Happily ‘Together’ is but a pilot for a longer film to be shot in 2011. ‘Sharing the Dance’ will be a full-length documentary about the making of a group dance with several human dancers and a pod of wild dolphins.

We are very proud to be showing the movie “Together” at our event on Friday! Here’s the trailer!

Wild dolphins are incredibly precious! They are rare – maybe unique – in being creatures who are truly wild and yet who are willing to reach across the species divide to approach humans voluntarily, out of their own curiosity and interest to interact. What happens if we respond to this invitation by offering ourselves as their equal? The possibilities for paradigm-shifting experiences are profound. We are given the opportunity to experience ourselves not as the dominant species destined to rule the world, but a creature who shares likeness and equality with another species on the planet. Wouldn’t such an experience radically change our assumptions about how to treat the Earth, her creatures and her resources?
-Chisa Hidaka

Event details here:
Useful links:

3 responses to “Dolphin Dance Project

  1. Thank you for sharing. I swam with wild dolphins more than once when I was living in Perth, Western Australia, and each time, it was a very amazing and beautiful experience. The idea of an Aquarium holding these wonderful creatures in captivity here in Kyoto is both stupid and repulsive. See you at Urbanguild on Friday.

  2. Many thanks, Michael,

    This park is an even worse idea than the replication of Disneyland in Nara. That tacky theme park was built among ancient burial tombs of the first rulers of Nara. It never attracted tourists in the numbers it needed to survive — who visits Nara, Japan’s first capital, to see Disneyland? Now it’s a ruin of a theme park. If it is built, this would be the fate of this awful scheme.

    At a time when Japan is disrespected worldwide because of the few stubborn, mean, corrupt men who kill whales and dolphins, this is the last thing that is going to attract tourists to Kyoto and Japan. The Japanese government is trying to boost tourism to Japan. The tourist board needs to learn that this will turn off people to both Japan and Kyoto.

    Are the dolphin and park protection activists in touch with int. organizations, including the Humane Society as well as organizations that advocate for sea mammals, that can spread the word? I’ll send some emails.

    Many thanks again from someone who loves dolphins (and all animals), trees, the people of Kyoto, and Kyoto,


  3. Michael Lambe

    Thank YOU Jean! I appreciate your support!

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