Imagine a fashion show with Naomi Campbell doing backflips down the runway or where Gisele busts out her favorite Michael Jackson moves. Well, that is the kind of event that model Cecil Tanaka is keen on producing.
OK so she may have some difficulty convincing such high-profile names to take part, but she has already put together her own group of models known collectively as SpininGReen who add a bit of pizzazz to the catwalk with a variety of choreographed maneuvers.
The 5’11” multi-talented performer got the idea while modeling for a bike accessories brand a couple of years ago. Asked to go on stage and improvise for three minutes she decided to put her dancing and gymnastic skills to good use.
“During rehearsals I walked out as I always did on the catwalk then halfway down the runway I did a slow back-flip into a bridge position which the staff loved,” she tells Weekender.
“On the actual night I added some twists and dance moves that seemed to really surprise the audience. I was blown away by the positive reaction. It really made me want to do it again. As a model your main job is to show off the clothes, but why not also use that platform to entertain the guests?”
Of course it isn’t always possible. Sometimes the attire isn’t appropriate for back-flips and handstands. “I often have to wear dresses for fashion shows so in that situation it could be a bit dangerous,” she says laughing. “Occasionally, though, I get to wear short pants and the organizers give me freedom to come up with something innovative.”
Tanaka started doing gymnastics from the age of three at her parents’ gym. A sporty child, she played volleyball at elementary school and then joined the rhythmic gymnastics club at junior high school. After quitting that she then took up dancing at 16 because she felt she was putting on weight. Tanaka learned a mixture of jazz, rock and hip-hop moves that she initially found difficult.
“My teacher would get angry, telling me I looked too much like a gymnast,” she recalls. “My toes should have pointed out, but instinctively I would point them in like a ballerina. Preparing for my first ever show in Roppongi I just couldn’t get it right. I worked with some amazing professionals on that occasion who made me realize how far I had to go if I wanted to become a successful dancer.”
The 28 year old – who cites Koharu Sugawara as her favorite performer – has gone on to dance for a number of popular groups including AKB48. She also choreographs routines for acts such as Kanna Hashimoto while maintaining her career as a model, which is now in its tenth year.
Twelve months ago she took up her first acting/dancing role in the year-long stage production “One Piece Tower,” and in June appeared in the military play “Aphe Rebellion.” She has two shows coming up this month yet still manages to find time to run a green smoothie shop in Nakameguro with her mother.
“I like to keep busy,” she says. “The fact that my work is also my hobby certainly helps. Things have worked out really well for me so far, but I don’t think I’ve achieved anything yet. I’m an ambitious girl who believes these dance/model shows can be a big success. In the future I believe we can showcase them at major events like Tokyo Fashion Week and Tokyo Girls Collection.”
Cecil Tanaka’s next shows will be on October 8 for the Daikanyama Collection at White Room, Daikanyama, and on October 25 at TECHS at Super Deluxe, Roppongi.