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This page contains articles written by Greg about Noh, related performances, events, workshops and anything else he wants to share. Please enjoy.


Kabuki Workshop DAY TWO (2/11/12)


A shorter day (only five hours) and, thank goodness, really.  It is difficult to absorb so much information and for the body to take on so many new techniques.

It’s my “ballet muscles” that hurt the most:  My hips, knees and that joint between your thigh and pelvis. –All that turning out to play heroes and turning in to be the ladies.

I got to try on a courtesan outfit!  (not a real one, of course, but a fair facsimile that Larry invented.) 
Larry was full of helpful hints and effective “Do-fors” so one can construct a million-dollar Kabuki look at a fraction of the cost. 

Sadly, because of my brand new (and rather masculine) belly, I fear my courtesan days are over, but it was fun trying to do buyo (see earlier post) in a kimono with a giant train. 
I thought that the manipulation of the dress would be part of the choreography but—oh ho!—it is completely left up to the dancer.  So there you are, trying to dance with your knees tight together, remembering to look cute, turning around into the corkscrew S-twist, and elegantly kicking your silk train out of the way. 
It’s amazing I stayed vertical.

Then we did a little bit of a ‘samurai’ buyo.  There are so many moves in a buyo it is overwhelming written out, it would be seven or eight pages for a three-minute dance. We all wished we had a week to learn and practice these dances. 
It is always fun whipping a sword around, but a little nerve-wracking with eight of us is a small room.

The second part of the day was devoted to Kabuki fighting or te (literally, ‘hand.’)  (There are lots of these as more than half the plays deal with an historical battle, or revenge killing.)

Of course, kabuki fighting differs from western-style sword combat in strange ways. 
The swords never touch.  The theatrics is the exciting thing.
Everything is accompanied by the Hoshigi (wooden sticks that beat against each other or on the floor—real loud) and
Looking cool is the main point.
What fun! 
First we did some one-on-one
Since we where learning very basic moves, each combatant performed the same choreography while facing each other.  In this way a parry is also a strike and the whole thing seemed more like a dance.

Next, we worked on a ‘one against many’ kind of battle.  I got to be the superhero--which is a lot like “star dancing.”   I stood in the middle of stage and waved my arm a little bit while everyone else charged at me in pairs.  They were defeated with a flick on my hand or I magically grab their spear and they succumb to my awesomeness.  Then more chest beating and posing.

It was an entertain afternoon despite having to wrap and re-wrap my 50-year-old knee.  By that evening the magic of learning a new art form had worn down a little.  Now the limiting palate of the form and the large holes in our (well, my) ability seemed far more apparent and frustrating.  When we read and discuss my 4th cycle piece (“Lady Jingly”) it’ll be … interesting.

Tomorrow is review, kabuki make up, and reading.  Woo-hoo!



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