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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Valuable Okinawan Dance Photo

A lady in the background of the tent is holding a US flag
Performance was held with live musician.

My Karate sensei gave me this old black-and-white Okinawan dance photo yesterday at his New Year's party. It is quite interesting to see this photo, which tells so much of Okinawan history itself.

A white paper written in Japanese attached to the back of this photo notes: the photo was supposedly taken shortly after the end of WWII, when a Lt. Hanna created three theater groups called Matsu, Take, and Ume Geki Dan (松劇団、竹劇団、梅劇団) in order to restore Okinawan traditional performing arts and activities at the U.S. Army camp. The Matsu (evergreen tree) theater group performed in the Northern region, the Take (Bamboo) Theater group performed in the Central region, and the Ume (Plum) theater group performed in Southern region of Okinawa.  The performance space (stage) was called "Kaba-ya" and was inside a plastic tent from the U.S. Army. Many similar tents were used all over the main island of Okinawa during this period.

I have not seen this kind of old dance photo in the past, and I conducted my own research this morning and found that the GrandMaster of Miyagi Ryu Ryukyu Dance School, who originated the Miyagi Ryu School in Okinawa after WWII, was a member of the Take Theater Group.

Finding this piece of Okinawan history.  I then found that the female character in this photo (in a dance piece called "Kanayo Amaka," a pair dance belonging to the Zo odori genre, created during Meiji era) is the late Grand Master of Miyagi Ryu, Nozo Miyagi, and the male character is Kosho Oyadomari.

It is very interesting me to have this kind of old photo, indeed.

Here is the Japanese document I found in Zoku Tokeshi No Ayumi (History of Tokeshi in Yomitan village): the following notes are copied from 沖縄県読谷村渡慶次字誌。

第3節 「知花※※メモ」に見る読谷沖映での上演演目


1 官営劇団の創設と解散

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