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Nihon Buyo Resources (Now started)

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Post  AnaIkimaru on Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:49 am

Excerpt from The Japanese Dance Assoc.

Nihon buyo is Japanese dance. However, unlike forms of Japanese art more closely associated with daily life (Shinto ritual kagura, local art transmitted across generations, bon folk dances, minyo folk songs, for example), nihon buyo is an independent performing art intended for the stage.
Embodying elements of performing arts which originated earlier, such as “bugaku” (ceremonial performance of the Imperial Court whose origins are traced to India and Central Asia) and “nohgaku” (noh theatre and its origins), and incorporating the refined essence of a range of folk arts, nihon buyo can be described as a “treasury” of Japanese art from ancient to modern times.

Over a history of nearly four centuries, nihon buyo acquired its many faces, represented today in kabuki buyo based in the kabuki theatre, kamigata mai and kyo mai traditionally performed in more compact, tatami-matted zashiki spaces, and sosaku buyo or creative, original dancing.


(1) Nihon buyo – a definition
The literal meaning of the term “nihon buyo” is “Japanese dance.” Expressed differently, it is an accumulation of four centuries of history. It has carried on the craft transmitted from noh and other performing arts that can be traced back three hundred years earlier, and it has incorporated techniques refined in later eras. In this sense, nihon buyo has been accomplished through a repeated process of polishing. To summarize, nihon buyo is an artistic dance based on the tradition of classical techniques transmitted from preceding forms of art, and expressed through the medium of the stage.


(2) The makings of nihon buyo
There are four main parts which might be described as the building blocks of nihon buyo.


1) First and foremost is kabuki buyo, which comprises a large part of nihon buyo ~ Kabuki buyo grew out of kabuki, originally a mélange of drama, dance, and music. As kabuki became established as a form of theatre in the late 17th century, dance was abstracted and developed as an art form. Consequently, kabuki buyo has grown and been handed down within the framework of the kabuki theatre, and the style of the kabuki theatre is reflected in elements of its choreography; for example, familiar scenes from daily life represented in abstract form, and an exaggerated, stylistic beauty in the movements.


2) Secondly, noh, which developed around the 15th century ~ The circular movements (mai) characteristic to noh dance, have been absorbed into the nihon buyo technique and style. Instruments used in noh have also become an integral part of the music of nihon buyo.


3) Thirdly, folk performing arts ~ Chronologically, these originate earlier than the noh theatre. Aspects of local, folk performing arts which were not incorporated into noh are embodied in nihon buyo. In contrast to the grounded, circular movements (mai) which are central to noh, motions which resemble springing and jumping (odori) are often used in nihon buyo.


4) Fourthly, a collection of creative, original works which appeared in the 20th century in the wake of the wide influence of Euro-American forms of culture in Japan. The original works emerged as part of a trend to break away from nihon buyo’s dependency on kabuki and to pioneer new ground as a dance form. In terms of technique, however, they do not differ substantially from kabuki buyo.


(3) Currents in nihon buyo history
Nihon buyo’s roots lie in kabuki buyo, as mentioned earlier. In addition, there are two currents to performances of nihon buyo today, which reflect geographic centers of cultural activity in Japan. One is the “Edo culture,” centered in Tokyo, and the other is the “Kamigata culture” based in Kyoto and Osaka. In the late 17th century, when kabuki buyo developed, the cultural center of Japan was located in Kyoto and Osaka. However, in the early 18th century, the center shifted to Edo, and by the 19th century Edo overpowered Kyoto and Osaka as the focal point of cultural activity. As a result, dance performances and audiences in Kyoto and Osaka shifted away from the stage, and it became popular to perform and to enjoy dances in Japanese-style drawing rooms (zashiki) in tea houses and in aristocrat’s homes, much smaller spaces compared to the kabuki stage. Different terms began to be used to distinguish between the two: Edo-centered kabuki buyo was called odori, whereas in Kyoto and Osaka, the term mai is used.


(4) Concluding remarks
Today, nihon buyo is broadly divided into Edo (Tokyo)’s kabuki buyo based odori, and Kamigata (Kyoto, Osaka)’s mai, also called jiuta mai. While the former is demonstrative and danced to a vivid rhythm, the latter is more introspective, and the rhythm is more gentle and imbued with emotion.

Last edited by AnaIkimaru on Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:34 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Updated!)

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Post  AnaIkimaru on Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:31 pm

The Origin of Nihon Buyo, as described by the Nihon Buyou Fondation:

The original form of "nihon buyo" is recorded in Japan's oldest history book "Kojiki" that was completed in 712. It describes how a goddess "Amenouzume-no-mikoto" devoted herself to dancing; she put grass on her dress and hair for decorations, clasped a bundle of bamboo leaves in her hand, and stamped her feet on a large pail. Similar stage props and style of beating rhythm with feet are still used in today's nihon buyo.
It verifies that nihon buyo has its origin in the ancient times. It was, however, only a starting point, and there has been a long process of development in nihon buyo in different rections.
The appearance of Izumo-no-Okuni early in the 17th century was an epoch-making event. She performed on stage what was called "nenbutsu odori” in local Kyoto (a primitive kind of dance in which dancers jumped about to the rhythm of the accompanying bell). Flutes and drums were used for the accompaniment, and the base of nihon buyo as performing arts was established in this era. Afterwards, different schools were founded, and since then, each of them has been training their students to nurture the talents. Major schools of Nishikawa, Fujima, Bando, Hanayagi, and Wakayagi have handed down and developed further their traditions as pioneers. Including new smaller schools added in modern times, they have created and performed various works of "classical buyo" and "suodori buyo (dance without wearing special costumes)." Since early in the 20th century, "sosaku (original work) buyo" gradually came to be performed.
Today approximately 5,000 professional dancers are actively working in nihon buyo circles, and giving their performances at nationwide venues.

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