It is said that the
history of Japanese dancing goes back to the mythical age. A famous
Japanese myth tells us that Amenouzume no Mikoto danced in front
of the Amano Iwato to open the cave entrance that Amaterasu Ohmikami
had concealed herself in. The 'kagura' dancing in its religous
and mystical influence is said to have came into existence from
'Bugaku' and 'Gagaku'
were brought over from China while 'Dengaku' and 'Sarugaku' sprang
up as the entertainment of Japaese farmers. From these, the uniquely
Japanese 'Nohgaku' came into being. 'Nogaku' came to have an influence
on Kabuki. It is thought that the current form of Japanese dancing
is the direct descendant of Iizumo Okuni's Nenbutsu Odori'. The
dance of Okuni is different from ' Nohgaku', but it was a dance
that has its origin in ethnic dancing. Izumo Okuni is also credited
as being the founder of Kabuki.
It can be said that
Kabuki and Janapese dancing used to be synonymous. Later, however,
the Okuni Kabuki was played by prostitutes and was passed down
from generation to generation. During the Edo period, it was prohibited
because it was thought to be might be immoral. Iregardless of
this suppression, kabuki passed down form generation to generation
while changing style.
Kabuki used to be
simple dancing (odori), but the element of performance was introduced
into it. The ryukyu (Okinawa snake-skin shamisen) was brought
to mainland and changed into a shamisen. From then the accompaniment
of music progressed. Gradually the element of story-telling performance
became the focus of the performance. Many performances based on
authentic news accounts were writtern.
Even though it has
changed to the dramatic performance of today, the posturing of
Japanese dancing, the vocalization of traditional Japanese music
and the stage presentation has been preserved carefully. Furthermore
the training and endowment of Japanese dancing has been essential
basis of Kabuki theater.
In Kabuki programs
there are many pantomime dances called 'shosagoto'. It was the
evidence of shosagoto in Kabuki that illustrated the use of Japanese
dancing by choreographers and directors of Kabuki.
In kabuki performance,
only men can appear on the stage, women are allowed in the exception
of a special case. Since Japanese dancing branched off from Kabuki,
many women became concerned with the inheritance of Japanese dancing.
And until today, many schools were organaized and concentrated
their efforts on inheritance and evolution of Japanese dancing
by making the best use of their unique, distictive features.