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KABUKI RETURNS TO HOUSTON FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO DECADES FOR RARE SHOWCASE OF JAPANESE DANCE MARKING YEAR OF JAPAN

NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century: From Kabuki Dance to Boléro

The Japan-America Society of Houston (JASH) is pleased to present NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century: From Kabuki Dance to Boléro at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, February 3, 2024, from 7:30 P.M.

The one-night-only Texas presentation will unite Japan’s most talented nihon buyo dancers to demonstrate the evolution of an artform with over 400 years of tradition.

Nihon buyo (which literally means “Japanese dance”) encompasses an animated style that draws from kabuki techniques.  Relying on gestural movements and set to live music, nihon buyo tells stories in a stylized form. Some works are descriptive, like a poem denoting changing seasons or the song of a nightingale, while others are intended to illicit laughter.

As noted by Gia Kourlas, dance critic for The New York Times, NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century “demonstrates the range of kabuki technique” by “showcasing a pair of dances more than 200 years apart.” The program begins with Toba-e (1819), a charming comedic work based on animal-centric Japanese caricatures of the same name. The second half of the program is a retelling of the heartbreaking and vengeful legend of Anchin and Kiyohime set to French composer Maurice Ravel’s famous score, Boléro. Expertly choreographed by esteemed Hanayagi Genkuro, the works will offer unique insight into Japanese culture and deliver indelible, ravishing images.

“For over half a century, Japan-America Society of Houston has been building connections between Texas and Japan through arts and culture,” said Laird Doran, JASH President.  “Kabuki — a United Nations-designated “masterpiece of heritage” – has long played an important role in the U.S.-Japan relationship, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to reaffirm U.S.-Japan friendship here in Houston through the presentation of NIHON BUYO.”

According to Patsy Brown, JASH Executive Director, “Nihon buyo blossomed in Japan during the Meiji era (1968-1912) in response to Westernization. In a year celebrating the 170th anniversary of the dawn of U.S.-Japan relations – a year that will bring see the MFAH host the groundbreaking exhibition Meiji Modern – JASH’s presentation of NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century is a fitting start to a ‘Year of Japan in Houston’ and a moving reminder of the link between past and present.”

NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century is produced and organized by Japan Society, New York.  Prior to making its Texas debut, NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century is being presented in New York at Japan Society, in Philadelphia at Fringe Arts, and in Washington, D.C. at The Kennedy Center.  The Houston presentation of NIHON BUYO in the 21st Century at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is sponsored by Houston Area Lexus Dealers and United Airlines.  Additional support comes from Miwa Sakashita and Dr. John Stroehlein as well as Yasuhiko and Akemi Saitoh.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.thehobbycenter.org/shows-tickets/.

For print-ready high-resolution images and to request press tickets, contact Japan-America Society of Houston Executive Director Patsy Brown at 713.963.0121 or by email at pybrown@jas-hou.org.

About Japan-America Society of Houston

Japan America Society of Houston (JASH) is the leading organization that connects Houston’s diverse community, local businesses, and individuals to advance the mutual interest of American and Japanese peoples. Our programs in language and education, arts and culture, and business initiatives and networking provide opportunities for collaboration and important people-to-people exchange. Visit jas-hou.org for more information, or follow JASH on Facebook (JapanAmericaHouston), Instagram (@JapanAmericaHouston), X (@JASHouston), and Threads (@JapanAmericaHouston).

About Japan Society

Japan Society (JS) is the premier organization connecting Japanese arts, culture, business, and society with audiences in NYC and around the world. In over 100 years of work, we’ve inspired generations by establishing ourselves as pioneers in supporting international exchanges in arts and culture, business and policy, as well as education between Japan and the U.S. This year, Japan Society is celebrating our heritage through the 50th anniversary of our landmark building, designed by the late architect Junzo Yoshimura, with the launch of a new distinct modern logo and visual identity. Visit japansociety.org for more information, or follow JS on Facebook (JapanSociety), Instagram (@japansociety) and Twitter (@japansociety).

About Hanayagi Genkuro

Hayanagi Genkuro (choreographer, dancer) was born in Nara Prefecture and began training in nihon buyo under his father Hanayagi Tomohito and subsequently under Grand Master Hanayagi Juo II. Genkuro made his stage debut in 1990 with Ayatsuri Sanbaso, and in 1998 received his stage name Hanayagi Genkuro. Genkuro received the Encouragement Award at the Nova Dance Competition for New Dancers for his performance of Ame no Goro in 2000 and became an Authorized Master of the Hanayagi School in 2002. Majoring in nihon buyo, he graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2003, where he was awarded both the Ataka and Jokan Scholarships.  In the same year, he received the Osaka Prefecture Governor’s Prize for his performance of Tomoyakko in 2003. In 2007, Genkuro received the Encouragement Award of the Minister of Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology at the Nihon Buyo Association’s annual New Year Dance Convention. In 2013, he received the Newcomer Award from the Japan Dance Critics Association for his performance of a new nihon buyo piece entitled Run Melos, Run. Genkuro performed at Japan Society in November 2014 as part of The Shamisen Sessions, Vol. 3—A Salute to Tradition to perform with the Living National Treasure shamisen player Takemoto Komanosuke, and again in March 2017 to lead the program entitled Nihon Buyo Dance & Music with Geimaruza. In 2018, he performed in Paris as part of the Japonismes 2018 festival, an extensive showcase of Japanese arts and culture organized by the Japanese government. In 2020, Genkuro performed with kabuki star Nakamura Ichitaro and Onoe Ukon in 2020 for ART Kabuki, a new production created during the pandemic featuring lavish Kabuki dance, made available via online streaming. In addition to being an active performer of traditional nihon buyo dance, Genkuro has choreographed for TV and other media platforms. In 2021, he choreographed Boléro ~The Legend of Anchin and Kiyohime, which premiered at the Edo-Tokyo Museum and was selected to be featured in the Stage Beyond Borders series, an international streaming platform operated by The Japan Foundation.  Genkuro’s other recent choreographic work includes: Utsuriyuku Toki for the dancer Onoe Ukon (2021); Puppeteer Hisa for the butoh dancer Akaji Maro (2022); and Galaxy Express 999 (2022), commissioned by the Japan NIHONBUYO Association.

 

 

 

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