Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Twenty GW Students and Faculty Join Twenty Professional Performers from Japan Participating in a Spectacular Daidengaku Dance. (With Videos)

The dance was part of the festivities commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first gifts of cherry blossom trees by Japan to the US. On March 28, the GW community had a special treat to a taste of Japan at the Hand Chapel on the Mount Vernon campus through a memorable performance of Daidengaku—an ancient, lost art and dance tradition of Japan originating from rice-planting festivities, which was revived recently by a Kyogen master, Mannojo Nomura (1959-2004). Our Japanese faculty, Mitsuyo Sato and Rika Seya, and students of Japanese, Joseph CooperRachel CrawfordMarjory HaraguchiStewart Pagan,  Monica PerezEun Hye SinErika Videtto, and and other GW students, Mai Hayano, Kazu Koyama, danced together with professional performers led by Manzo Nomura, Mannojo’s grandson who has been designated as a bearer of an Intangible Cultural Heritage, and joined by a famous actress Keiko Matsuzaka. The exuberance and enthusiasm of the performers beautifully adorned in authentic costumes and makeup were contagious, and the audience was carried away in a joyful and colorful journey.  Hamano Shoko sensei, in an opening remark, observed the significance of rice in the Japanese culture, and briefly described the pre-performance workshop and practice the performers had gone through. Rachel Crawford, a student in the second-year Japanese, who participated in the performance, commented on her entire involvement as follows:

“The best thing about the workshop on Tuesday was hearing about the history of not only daidengaku but the other dances (such as kabuki) that developed out of it, and how they influenced each other. It was a story of a history of dances spanning hundreds of years.

The best thing about the performance on Wednesday was wearing the traditional garb for the dance. It brought us closer to the history of the dance and was an experience that most of us will not have the opportunity to do again. Dressing in traditional garb for the performance made us feel like we really accomplished something during the workshop.

I was surprised how much of the workshop we were able to accomplish while speaking only in Japanese. It was a great way for me to practice my language skills while learning something cultural and fun.

I told my family a little about the history and the type of dance it was, that it was an active dance that was supposed to be joyful and thankful. The mentality made the dance a lot of fun to perform."

Professor Hamano added, "the mentality" the student mentioned refers to the explanation offered by the staff that it is more important to bring out the spirit/energy than to focus on dance steps because the whole idea is to enjoy the experience.”

You can see the whole performance by looking at the five-part video taken by Professor Takae Tsujioka: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

News Channel 9 carried the event under the title, "Japanese Folk Dance Has Modern Appeal With Locals And Students."

Special thanks to the members of the Japanese Language and Literature Program and the Language Center staff for their leadership role in this significant event. Read more.

Source: GW Department of East Asian Language and Literature Newsletter

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