The Kabuki Dance event was a first time introduction of bona fide kabuki
performers on an Israeli stage. The evening, which included two dance excerpts –
The Heron Maiden and The Stone Bridge – gave but a minuscule taste of this
400-yearold popular form of theater, which preserve the same stylized musical
dance dramas in traditional manner. All kabuki players are men, and some
specialize in female roles.
Unlike butoh, the Japanese mid- 20th century
avant-garde dance, which was highly acclaimed in the West before it was more
widely accepted in Japan, kabuki, as well as the more sophisticated Noh theater,
caters mostly to Japanese audiences of all classes.
The role of the heron
maiden was skillfully played by Nakamura Kyozo with all the right coy head
gestures, soft downcast eyes, delicate turned-in steps and perfect symmetry
control of the kimono rim on the floor, by invisible foot work. As the tradition
goes, the actor had several dress changes on stage, helped by a specialized
assistant, a wizard in his own right, who flipped kimonos to fit various moods
like disappearing cards and changed the actor’s props like a professional
The second piece, The Stone Bridge, was played by two actors
portraying a male and a female lion, dressed in elaborate colorful outfits and
stunning long manes – white for the male and flaming red for the female. Dancing
simultaneously, the difference between physical attitude and convention of both
genders became somewhat clearer.
We could well appreciate the moves,
expressions, the beauty of the exotic components and, of course, the authentic
music played live by eight musicians.
Like any traditional art form, one
needs to have access to the cultural codes and conventions to fully appreciate
the intricacy of the craft and the artistic nuances, since each choice, for
instance, of color, shape, width and ties of the obi – the sash that is wrapped
to hold the kimono – the outfit’s textile design or length of the sleeves, are
Even so, it was a pleasure to see this modest introduction
to kabuki through those two dance sections, short lecture and makeup
demonstration, giving us a glimpse into the exotic wealth of this enigmatic