Chieko Toma is a master of Ryukyu dance. On Sunday I had the chance to photograph her performing in traditional dance costumes. The next black and white costume comes from Haebaru Town and I believe is worn for performance of the folk dances, rather than the court dances. The next outfit is the karate gi with a hakama-style piece over the lower half. This was worn to perform the go shin no mai dances of self defense. As well as a master of Ryukyu dance, Toma Sensei is a master of Goju-ryu karate, and a student under Tetsuhiro Hokama Sensei. If you look at the behind the scenes shot, and you’ve been following the Karate Masters Portrait Project since 2012, you’ll notice the change in the number of lights used to create the portrait. In all the above shots of Toma Sensei I used two lights. James is holding one Profoto B1 strobe with a white softlight reflector (AKA a beauty dish) while Toma Sensei’s granddaughter is holding a second Profoto B1 strobe with a …
I photographed dancer Kazue Higa performing at the National Theatre Okinawa last weekend. A wonderful opportunity to see such a spectacle, and to be allowed to take an enormous camera, tripod and telephoto lens into the theatre. After I have a chat with Higa-san I will update this post in the near future giving details of the costumes and dances performed in each of these pics. These were all photographed with the Pentax 645Z and the 300mm f4 ED lens at 1/100 sec ISO 400 at f4.5
Ryukyu Dancers wearing flower-shaped bamboo hats and Bingata kimono prepare for the Yotsutake dance as part of the performance of “a Cirque ~ Clown Macbeth” at the National Theatre Okinawa. I have just realized it’s the National Theatre Okinawa not the National Theater Okinawa. Usually in Japan, the American spelling of words is more common. Does the use of theatre rather than theater show that the Japanese performing arts see themselves closer to British rather than American traditions.
I’m starting a new project documenting the traditional dancers of Okinawa. The first group I have met with is Udui Haru and their teacher Keiko Miyagi. The group were part of a performance of Macbeth on Friday along with the theater group Ryukyu Cirque. The director of the production is Makoto Inoue, who also plays the role of Macbeth. Dancers Riko Sugama, Hitoshi Tamaki, and Chinatsu Higa play the roles of Lady Macbeth, the gatekeeper, and King Duncan. The performances are at the National Theater Okinawa, in Urasoe on Sept 19, Dec 17 and Feb 6. Curtain up at 7pm. Well worth checking out, a unique blend of Shakespeare and the traditional Okinawan arts.