Sometimes if I go to Japan, people would call me Otake Sensei, and I had to always correct it. Because one, I am not sensei. Two, I kind of resent to the fact that sensei is attached to everyone, like a teacher, right? And to me, I always said Ohno Sensei, the teacher Ohno is the only person I actually call under the title, because I still feel he was so fundamentally important, for both Koma and I want to get to know him as a person, and as an artist, and continue to feel such a strong respect, awe almost — we really feel awe. And he’s been an amazing, amazing influence and deliberation and inspiration.1
So, we kind of stayed in touch, not so well in the beginning, because we left him again early, I think, first we studied with him half year, we went to Europe, we came back from Europe, we studied with him again for one year, but only twice a week we just went to his studio. But luckily, when Koma and I started to perform more actively, he also became a very active international figure, and a very important person, and he went everywhere. So, he came to New York several times, and we had the fortune of either housing him or helping him, both in terms of like backstage and all that. I got to know him really, really well in a very different way. And because we live here, he often felt Eiko and Koma is my student, my older students who work in New York, who live in New York.
So, the relationship kind of became a little different, and every time he would come, he would bring me certain very important writing by him or by his relatives. Every time he comes, he prepares, like what to give me or what to give us in addition to his performance, of course. And so, we felt very strongly every time we almost were like done with our dancing, which never was supposed to be our career, we would see him. It just so happened, we would see him somewhere in Germany or in New York or in Tokyo or somewhere. And every time we see him, we just get so shocked, and like so contagious. His passion is so strong, it just burns you.
That’s another reason we couldn’t really stay around him too long, especially in Tokyo. We very much didn’t want to be disciples.2 That we don’t have, we just don’t have that DNA in us.