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Traditional Okinawan dance visits Tokyo

by Sei Dickinson

Staff Writer

Japanese theater has gained a great deal of international recognition, so most people are likely familiar with kabuki or noh. Fewer, however, may have heard of Ryūkyū buyō — the traditional dance of Okinawa.

On July 29 at Kioi Hall in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, audiences have the opportunity to see a production of “The Art of Modern Okinawan Tradition: Dance of a New Generation and Ryukyu Dance,” which may serve as an interesting introduction to Okinawan dance.

In the first part of the performance, titled “Hana no Otokogei,” the audience is presented with the classical form of Ryūkyū buyō. Performed in brightly colored dresses with slow and restrained movements, this dance is accompanied by the sound of Japanese instruments including the koto, sanshin (precursor of the shamisen), flute, drum and Chinese fiddle. The production introduces ancient classics, works created after the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and even modern, literary pieces.

The second part is a performance of “Shi-no-kai,” a famous traditional kumiodori (ensemble dance) of the Okinawan Dojo-ji Temple. This will be the first time that such a dance is performed outside of Okinawa.

“The Art of Modern Okinawan Tradition: Dance of a New Generation and Ryukyu Dance” takes place at Kioi Hall in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, on July 29, at 7 p.m. Tickets are ¥2,000-¥6,000. For more information, visit www.mukeibunka.com/#okinawa.