The idea that flamenco and kabuki share the same sense of expression was the motivation for a pair of prominent Japanese dancers to base a flamenco performance on the kabuki play “Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku”(“The Lady-Killer and an Oil Hell”). That play was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725).
Mayumi Kagita, a flamenco dancer and the founder of the Arte Y Solera dance company based in Tokyo, will play the role of Kawachiya Yohei the villainous main character. Kagita realized after watching the kabuki piece that there were similarities with the flamenco tradition, says Arte Y Solera spokeswoman Kaori Sano.
“Kagita said, ‘The (kabuki) story is a tragedy, showing unhappy characters. But the audience applauded and even laughed,’ ” Sano explains. “Flamenco has its origin in Roma tradition and those people were ranked in the bottom rung of society. They sang songs of hard labor and sadness, but (like kabuki) the audience was always happy to hear those songs.”
The story centers on Yohei, the son of a shop owner in Osaka named Tokubei. Yohei spends a lot of money on prostitutes. He asks the wife of the owner of an oil shop for money, but she refuses and so he kills her and steals the cash. He almost gets away with the crime, but a month later some evidence is unexpectedly discovered.
Sano adds that although the role of Yohei is male, Kagita performs it because she has been described as having a masculine style of dancing.
The piece’s music is by Jose Galvez, a leading flamenco guitarist and singer from Jerez, Spain. Galvez will be joined by singer Ana de los Reyes, guitarists Malena Hijo and Makoto Saito, and percussionist Kenji Imafuku.
“Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku” will be performed at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, on Nov. 17-21 (7 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 18, 3 p.m. on Nov. 19-21). The theater is located near Hatsudai Station. Tickets cost ¥5,250 for A seats and ¥3,150 for B seats. For details, call (03) 5352-9999 or visit www.atre.jp/ticket/general.html.