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Ayako Takahashi
For Ayako Takahashi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Jul 30, 2014
Paris-based Oida still lives out his dreams
Yoshi Oida has appeared in many works by the famed Paris-based English director Peter Brook, and in 2013 the Japanese actor who has, like him, also lived in the City of Light for more than four decades, was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Jul 2, 2014
High-energy Ono conducts a rare 'Hoffmann' critique
He is known best for the rapturously hysterical "Infernal Gallop" (aka "The Can-can") from his 1858 operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld," but the German-born, naturalized-French composer Jacques Offenbach (1819-80) is credited with just one full-length, serious opera — "The Tales of Hoffmann" — which opens for a short Tokyo season this weekend.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Jun 4, 2014
Roberta Marquez: a Juliet to die for
The Royal Ballet, generally considered to be the best classical company in the world, numbers some 100 dancers from teens of countries who are based at its magnificent and newly refurbished Opera House home in London.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Apr 30, 2014
Fast lane awaits kabuki actor's bold lead debut
Some roles demand quick changes of clothes or character, but in the whole wide world of theater, "Haji Momiji Ase no Kaomise" ("A Blushing Maple Perspires in Public") — aka "Date no Juyaku" ("The 10 Roles of the Date House") — is probably the only play in which a single actor plays 10 roles, both male and female, and changes costumes more than 40 times.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Apr 16, 2014
Noh master Gensho appears to know no bounds on stage
Noh is a performing art originally developed by and for the samurai class that has continued without a break for 700 years — a mighty span through which Umewaka Rokuro Gensho, as the 56th-generation head of the Rokuro Umewaka family, can trace his lineage.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Apr 2, 2014
Opening-night thrills with the NNTB
Although ballet-goers in Japan tend to prefer narrative works, the trio of edgy and abstract pieces from the 20th century to the present showcased last week by the New National Theatre Ballet (NNTB) may well have some revising their preferences.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Jan 29, 2014
Olé! A 'Carmen' supreme
The heroine of French composer Georges Bizet's "Carmen" is one of the most famous roles in opera, but it's also one of the most difficult of all to carry off well.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Jan 22, 2014
Komanosuke Takemoto: a rare voice of tradition
The traditional performing art of bunraku (ningyō jōruri) involves three puppeteers together operating a cast of single puppets, with a gidayū bushi to the side comprising a story-teller (tayū) and a shamisen player (shamisen- hiki) seated on a round platform (yuka).
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Dec 4, 2013
Bunraku storyteller speaks out
During the early part of the Edo Period, when Japan was ruled by Tokugawa shoguns from 1603-1867, Osaka — the main city in the Kansai region of western Honshu — thrived as the country's cultural and economic center. It was during those heady days around 400 years ago that a kind of puppetry called ningyō jōruri was born — a performance art, now commonly known as bunraku, that was designated by UNESCO in 2003 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Stage
Nov 13, 2013
An audience with Sylvie Guillem
There are many wonderful ballet dancers the world over, but Sylvie Guillem is undoubtedly in a category of her own — and not only because of her famously self-willed ways.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on