Kabuki is a type of theatres created in Japan in the earl 1600s. Although now it is a all male profession, this type of entertainment was created by a woman. Izumo no Okuni was a miko (type of priestess) that began to develop a new type of dance. She enlisted new dancers from the outer reaches of society, especially the prostitutes. Women were banned from the stage around the 1630s, changing the face of kabuki. Adolescent males were enlisted to fill the women’s roles, but soon this too was banned as it was considered too erotic. Although both bans were lifted in the 1650s, Kabuki had metamorphosized into what we see today.  There are three main types of Kabuki plays. The first, jidaimono, generally focuses on a major historical even of Japan, and can be a lengthy performance, lasting an entire day. The second, sewamono, depicted the commoners side of life, an commonly featured a pair of star crossed lovers. The third type of play is shosagoto, in which the piece I have chosen is categorized. The music that accompanies the plays are heavily influenced by Noh theater, and gives a minimalistic quality that relates a sense of double meaning to the performer’s actions. The sets are bare except for a few objects, and lighting is brought together with color change to give off different moods.

The piece I have chosen is The Orochi Dance, an excerpt of a larger performance, preformed by a current famous dancer Tamasaburo. What draws me to kabuki is that sense of drama. Every aspect of the theater has been distilled to its bare elements. Lighting and scenery coalesce the create an incredibly intimate scene. Within the first moment the dancer comes onstage, you are drawn in, and feel as though you are watching something private. Although many of the movements are subtle, the sparse landscape and singing bring every twitch of the hand into view. It is hard to miss something when every movement could be a painting.

Kabuki is still popular today within the country of Japan, and I plan to see it myself one day. Below are a few informational links, the first is a brief explanation of the mythical creature Orochi.