The Hobart

LOCAL PERSON: Eri Mullooli-Hill Konishi

by Peta Hen
LOCAL PERSON: Eri Mullooli-Hill Konishi

After a jam-packed last few years performing with Second Echo Ensemble, we found out what’s next for artist, performer and Dance Movement Psychotherapist Eri Mullooly-Hill Konishi.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I was born and brought up in Japan. Since childhood I became greatly fascinated by different cultures and places, which encouraged me to later travel around. I lived in Germany, the UK, and stayed long-term in India. I came to Australia in 2015 as a backpacker. I left once but came back in 2019. Since then, I’ve been living in Lutana.

Tell us a little about your work. I’m a dance/movement artist and a registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist. I work across diverse communities in nipaluna/ Hobart, such as people with special needs and migrant communities. Dance Movement Therapy stands on the premise that our body and mind are very closely connected to each other. It consciously brings our attention to our bodies and utilises natural and creative movement to express, reflect, and deepen our understandings towards our inner world as well as our relationships to the external world we live in. The practice helps us to be better in touch with our bodies, emotions, and our true-selves, and form healthier connections with others. Dance Movement Therapy approaches and thinking are at the heart of my practice in both working as a dance/movement artist and therapist. And I love my work! I work for Second Echo Ensemble with a collective of beautiful artists with diverse abilities and modalities and perform at FARO restaurant of MONA museum along with talented musicians, as well as at various events and festivals. I also offer classes and workshops, and individual therapy. Occasionally I work for Migrant Resource Centre as a bicultural worker too.

Eri performing at Mona Foma. Pic: Jesse Hunniford

Why did you first get into Dance Movement Psychotherapy? I wasn’t interested in becoming a psychotherapist at all. I always loved dancing so wanted to do something related. I danced so much more than studying while at university in Japan but stopped to focus on job-hunting in the final year at the uni. When you graduate, you have a secure job starting from Spring. It was very common in Japan. Fortunately, I got employed by an old company that runs department stores internationally, which gave me my second opportunity to live in Germany. I was happy to be back there but gradually started to question what really makes me feel fulfilled. One day when I was at work, an older Japanese couple came into the store, visiting Frankfurt that day. The husband was a little sick and the couple was worried in a foreign land. As I could converse in German, my boss asked me to accompany them to a nearby pharmacy. I translated the conversations, and the couple greatly appreciated what I did. It was a small incident but had a huge impact on me. I realised being able to form a heartfelt, authentic connection with others fulfills me.

You do a lot for the community through your classes and workshops. Why Hobart? My husband Rupert grew up in lutruwita. The family is one of the main reasons why I am here. Being a migrant, my contact used to be quite limited at the beginning, but it allowed me to develop a few significant friendships over time. Since I joined Second Echo Ensemble in 2020, my connection with local artists has grown massively. Now I feel great sense of belonging in Hobart, having built valuable friendships and rich connections across different communities.

You toured with Second Echo Ensemble and were a part of The Beauty Project. Why did you get involved? At Second Echo we worked as a collaborative team and support each project altogether in various ways. For The Beauty Project, I was so happy when Elise, the director, invited me to join as one of the model performers. Unfortunately, I got Covid and couldn’t perform for the Hobart shows but managed to watch their last performance. One of the performers, William, lives with diabetes and his device beeped during the show. Rodri, who was there to support Will, ran to help him out. Those humanistic, raw, real life situations were actually pretty powerful to witness as part of a performance.

What events and/or tours do you have lined up for the future? I run a regular class called “Creative Movement Gathering” on one Sunday a month at The Fourth Floor. If you are interested in experiencing what Dance Movement Therapy can be, it is a good platform. The next event I will be part of is Story Festival by Clarence City Council in May. Then, in June I will be involved in Dark Mofo.

What do you love doing outside work? I enjoy catching up with friends for good chat and food, going for bushwalks or stroll at Cornelian Bay with Rupert, going for shows and gigs especially when my friends are involved, and cuddling Apollo and Pudding, our cats (brothers who don’t fancy each other so much) at home.

Who do you admire? I admire my late grandparents, Yasuhiro and Kazuko Konishi. I was especially very close to my grandpa. He was a very handy man who did lots of things. His right hand lost three fingers when he was 19, but it never seemed to have bothered him at all. My grandma was the first person in my life to have told me the importance of condoms. She was warm, smart, and could say things others might find difficult to voice at times. They are my life-long great role models.

Favourite podcast or tv show? We have no TV at home. I don’t listen to podcasts very often.

Secret vice/Bad habit? I’m pretty friendly in general, but at times can be a bit moody and short tempered at home. Rupert knows. Also, I find it very hard to give up potato chips…I love Tyrrells! I really hope they bring Salt & Cider vinegar flavour back here.

What gets your goat? I feel sad when I see many rice grains left on a bowl or plate. In Japan, we were brought up being told not to leave any rice grain, because there is so much effort of the farmer condensed into one single grain, or there are seven gods living in one single grain of rice. I also get upset about animal abuse and deforestation.

What was your first job? I worked at a fancy Japanese restaurant near the university I studied in Japan. I was 18. We all had to wear Kimonos to work. One evening we were waiting for the guest to arrive at a foyer. I started dancing and got a warning from a supervisor. Of course, I didn’t last long in this job.

What are your daily news/social media habits? Not so great. Well, I’m trying to reduce the amount of time I spend on it. I forget about my phone when I’m with friends. But when I’m alone, it’s very easy to get dragged into scrolling to my amazement. A friend of mine recently told me that she started a new habit where she doesn’t touch her phone once she finishes her shower at night. I’ve started to follow this too and read instead. It actually feels so much better.

Your favourite place (in Hobart) for…

Breakfast: I don’t normally have brekkie out.

Lunch: Heart Food in Bank Arcade, and Straight Up on Liverpool Street.

Dinner: Danphe on Collins Street and Spice on Wheels in New Town

Favourite team? Hanshin Tigers – a baseball team based in Osaka. My dad, and now Rupert too, are big fans of the team. I don’t really follow baseball games, but because of my dad’s huge passion, I grew up sensing the Tigers’ spirit always around me.

Parting words? Otsukaresama! Matane! It’s very hard to translate Otsukaresama. It is an expression we use to acknowledge the person’s effort and commitment for whatever they were doing on the day. Matane means see you soon again, in Japanese.

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February 2024

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