Japanese Classical Dance / Mme. Hisami Wakayagi and her group “Hana no Kai” to celebrate 30th anniversary, June 23, 24

Hana no Kai Hisami Wakayagi

Mme. Hisami Wakayagi of Hana no Kai

Veteran Japanese classical dancer Mme. Hisami Wakayagi and her Los Angeles dance group “Hana no Kai” will celebrate their 30th anniversary with special guests from Japan at Armstrong Theatre in Torrance on Thursday, June 23, and Friday, June 24, at 6 pm on both days. Tickets are $30. For tickets, call Hana no Kai at  (323) 302-2845 or box office at (310) 781-7171.

The highlight of the 30th anniversary show is “Tsunayakata” performed by Hisami wakayagi, and three guest dancers from Tokyo, Hikosaemon Wakayagi, Kichiroku Wakayagi, and Kichisa Wakayagi. Professional narrator Kima Hotta from Tokyo will add her reading to the dance program.

This recital will also memorialize renowned shamisen player and singer, late Yajuro Kineya, who gave a name of “Hana no Kai.”

Hana no Kai Wakayagi Hikosaemon

Hikosaemon Wakayagi

Thursday, June 23, 6 pm

Armstrong Theater, Torrance

Box Office: (310) 781-7171

Kojyo Introducing new Natori (stage name) dancers: Haruka Wakayagi, Mitama Wakayagi, and Hisana Wakayagi

Nagauta Kikuzukushiperformed by Hannah Watanabe

The season is autumn.  A young girl in a long-sleeved kimono dances in a garden filled chrysanthemums.  It is as if countless red, white and yellow flowers are in celebration of the long life that lies ahead of her.

Kiyomoto “Yamato-Komori” performed by Ayami Tanabe

A young girl runs onto stage chasing after a bird that has stolen the abura-age (deep fried tofu) she just bought.  The girl is babysitting and begins to daydream as she tries to calm the crying baby strapped to her back.  Dancing to a tune based on what was popular at the time, she plays doll shop, sings of love and romance and finally describes what life was like in her hometown, Echigo, using ayadake bamboo sticks.

Nagauta Takaozangeperformed by Mitama Wakayagi

During the Edo Period, a well-known courtesan by the professional name, Takao, was said to live at the Miura-ya brothel in Yoshiwara (the pleasure quarters).  She was the top courtesan of Edo at the time.  It is night and with the sound of a bell at the Saihoji Temple, the ghost of Takao appears in front of her gravestone.  She dances of the four seasons she experienced while alive and speaks of the tormented existence she now leads in her afterlife.  She then disappears.

Nagauta “Fuji” performed by Hisami Wakayagi and Hisame Wakayagi

In 1966, the Second Wakayagi Kichisanji wrote the music for this dance, commemorating the anniversary of the first Kichisanji’s  performance at the Kabuki Theater. The lyrics were written by Osada Gokyo who had strong ties to the Wakauagi school.

They describe the beauty of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji, from daybreak to dusk as well as its appearance in each of the four seasons. As Japanese gaze on Mt. Fuji, emotions of hope and strength flow forth. The dance was created by the First Wakayagi Kichisanji.

Hana no kai Yashima Kanjo

Nagauta "Yashima Kanjo"

Nagauta “Yashima-Kanjoperformed by Tomoko Kimura : “The Tale of Heiki” reading by Kima Hotta

The Heike court ladies hid themselves under the guise of various professions after their defeat to the Genji clan.  Some women became fishmongers, carrying tubs atop their heads and leading a peaceful and oftentimes humorous existence.  In the latter part of the performance, the court lady wields her sword as her thoughts take her back to the fierce battle of the past.

Hana no Kai Nagauta Sagimusume

Nagauta "Sagimusume"

Nagauta Sagimusumeperformed by Haruka Wakayagi

A young girl stands in the snow by herself with an umbrella.  With her white head dress, white kimono and black obi, she looks fragile and hauntingly beautiful as if a heron is perched there.  The young city girl is heartbroken after a promise for marriage fall through and is a t the brink of devastation.  Changing kimonos multiple times to transform from a city girl to a sagi (heron) spirit, the girl flutters her wings as she slowly struggles to her death.

Hana no Kai Nagauta Tsunayakata

Nagauta "Tsunayakata"

Nagauta Tsunayakata performed by Hisami Wakayagi, Hikosasemon Wakayagi, Kichiroku Wakayagi, Kichisa Wakayagi: Reading by Kima Hotta

Samurai Watanabe no Tsuna (Tsuna of the Watanabe family) severed the left arm of Oni-demon when the demon disguised as a beautiful woman and fooled him. In order to recover his left arm, the demon now disguises as Mashiba who was Tsuna’s nanny in his home country, and tries to open the gate of Tsuna’s house. Mashiba convinces Tsuna to open the gate and let her into the room where the demon’s left arm is kept in a box. When the box is brought out and the arm is displayed, the demon sheds its disguise and escapes with the arm.

In the final moment of the dance, Tsuna performs the “Mie” move, holding a sword and opening his mouth wide. This is a type of dramatic ending that has perfected through the efforts of countless dancers throughout history.

Friday, June 24, 6 pm

Armstrong Theater, Torrance

Box Office: (310) 781-7171

Kojyo Introducing new Natori (stage name) dancers: Haruka Wakayagi, Mitama Wakayagi, and Hisana Wakayagi)

Nagauta Ayatsuri-Sanbasoperformed by Kei Ogawa

This piece was composed by the ancestor of Kawarazaki Chojuroh, who was well known in the region.  These dolls were much smaller than the Bunraku dolls and were manipulated with many strings.  This is a playful piece – the doll’s strings break mid-dance, the helper on stage fixes the tangled strings and ties the broken strings together to continue the dance.

Kiyomoto Tamausagiperformed by Josephine Sharpstone

In Japan, the rabbits said to live on the moon are called, “Tamausagi.”  The performer will dance in a dango (rice dumpling)-seller’s outfit; at first portraying the rabbits of the moon as they pound mochi.  As the piece progresses, the dancer will portray a variety of characters from the folk tale Kachi Kachi Yama, such as an old man, old woman, rabbit and a raccoon.

Hana no Kai Nagauta Asazumabune

Nagauta "Asazumabune"

Nagauta Asazumabuneperformed by Hisana Wakayagi

Asazumabune is a work by painter Hanabusa Itcho of the Kano School of Art.  It depicts a single small boat washed up next to a willow with a shirabyoshi dancer standing in it, holding a hand drum.  The shirabyoshi from the painting appears on stage and begins to dance.  She eventually steps off the boat, takes off her eboshi (hat) and suikan (gown) and performs a lively dance.

Nagauta Ame no Goroperformed by Mitsuyo Kuwahara

One spring evening in the drizzling rain, Goro heads for the brothels; in his hand is a love letter from a courtesan in Keshozaka.  This is actually an imitation of a famous scene in which Sukeroku heads for the brothels in a storm of cherry blossoms.  Instead, it is now Goro who heads for the brothels in the spring rain.  Instead of a young man, it is a young boy who has yet to shave his bangs.

Kiyomoto Tsuyama no Tsukiperformed by Hisaya Wakayagi, Sanjyuro Wakayagi

This piece was created when the Kabuki art form was first established.  It portrays the travels of Okuni and Sanza, a beautiful woman and handsome man.  The story begins as Okuni, who became a famous dancer in Kyoto goes to Tsu City in search of Sanza, who works for the local government.  Surrounded by mountains, they enjoy the beautiful moon from a hill in Tsu (present day Okayama Prefecture).  Sanza is an expert with the spear and was a great warrior in the famous Odawara battle.

Kiyomoto Kairaishiperformed by Nash Tomiko, Teruo Hino

Kairaishi were street doll performers that made their rounds in cities during the mid-Edo Period.  Ususally, they were men with a box hanging around their necks.  They used the box as a stage and performed plays with small dolls.  In this program, the Kairaishi is played by Nash Tomiko.  Her 3-year-old grandson will also be on stage with her.

Hana no Kai Nagauta Tsunayakata

Nagauta "Tsunayakata"

Nagauta “Tsunayakata” performed by Hisami Wakayagi, Hikosaemon Wakayagi, Kichiroku Wakayagi, and Kichisa Wakayagi: Reading by Kima Hotta

Samurai Watanabe no Tsuna (Tsuna of the Watanabe family) severed the left arm of Oni-demon when the demon disguised as a beautiful woman and fooled him. In order to recover his left arm, the demon now disguises as Mashiba who was Tsuna’s nanny in his home country, and tries to open the gate of Tsuna’s house. Mashiba convinces Tsuna to open the gate and let her into the room where the demon’s left arm is kept in a box. When the box is brought out and the arm is displayed, the demon sheds its disguise and escapes with the arm.

In the final moment of the dance, Tsuna performs the “Mie” move, holding a sword and opening his mouth wide. This is a type of dramatic ending that has perfected through the efforts of countless dancers throughout history.

Staff: Producer, Katsunori Watanabe; Director, Hikosaemon Wakayagi, Hisami Wakayagi; Assistant Director, Yutaka Takeuchi; Make-up, Mitsunaga Kanda; Kitsuke, Kimiyuki Matsuzawa, Satoko Kawasaki; Wig, Riichi Takagi; Japanese Hair, Koji Takagi; Koken, Kichiyusuke Wakayagi, Sanjuro Wakayagi

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