By Barbara Thornbury
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Additional resources for America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts: Cultural Mobility and Exchange in New York, 1952-2011
What eventually followed was a series of celebrated tours of the United States by kabuki performers from Japan, starting with the female-led Azuma Kabuki Dancers and Musicians in 1954 and continuing to this day—with the most recent one occurring in 2007. In labeling the discourse America’s kabuki- Japan, I have in mind Masao Miyoshi and H. D. Harootunian’s observation that following the war “Americans seized the initiative for constructing an image of Japan and portrayed the country as a model of peaceful modernization .
A traditional Japanese dancer has trained and practiced for decades and this material comes out of them as if it was nature. It really becomes natural to them. ” Yokoshi said in response, “I must remind you that I am as fake as you are. I have been familiar with this form for only seven years, and I don’t live in Japan. I only do periodical training with long absences. My familiarity with dance is closer to you rather than the Japanese dancers. If a well-trained dancer taught you, it would take triple the time.
American audiences also came to equate kabuki with Japanese culture as a whole. Especially before La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart brought Japan “downtown” with productions by the Tokyo Kid Brothers and Shuji Tera yama in the 1970s, this made it less likely that other performing arts from Japan, especially those that focus attention on issues of contemporary soci- 34 America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts ety and culture, would be given opportunities to be presented and attract serious critical attention in the United States.
America’s Japan and Japan’s Performing Arts: Cultural Mobility and Exchange in New York, 1952-2011 by Barbara Thornbury