Saturday, January 22, 2011
Went to a charity kagura event today and saw a dance I had never seen before, Momiji-gari.
The dance opens with three maidens dressed in gorgeous kimonos carrying sprigs of maple.
The dance is based on a Noh drama which itself was based on an older story set among the autumn leaves in what is now Nagano.
The group dancing was from northern Hiroshima, and one feature of Hiroshima kagura is that "human" dancers do not wear masks, rather make-up.
The dance was graceful and at times frenetic, and the blur of golds, yellows, and reds against the backdrop of autumn leaves was quite spectacular.
Next up we are introduced to Taira Koremochi, the great Heike warrior, who along with an aide has come to Nagano to destroy a demon that has been harassing the local people.
The heroes accept the invitation of the maidens to join their party and are repeatedly given sake until they fall into a drunken stupor.
Now the maidens reveal their true identity as the demons the heroes have come to slay and begin a dance in celebration of the inevitable doom of the heroes.
The transformation from maiden to demon is truly instantaneous.... one second the women are spinning around and in the next they have on the demon masks....... I certainly did not see it happen, and the audience erupts with applause at the slickness of the transformation....
As you can see in the photo, the masks are not held to the head by strings but are gripped between the teeth
to be continued