Artist Interview アーティストインタビュー
National Theatre Okinawa
A new Artistic Director and his Kumiodori spirit
Michihiko Kakazu (Ryukyu buyo performer and keeper of the traditions of Kumiodori)
The art of Kumiodori, now on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is a traditional form of dance theater that was originally created as entertainment for emissary missions called Sakuhoshi that came to the Ryukyu Kingdom (present day Okinawa) regularly on behalf of the Chinese emperor. In January of 2004, the “National Theatre Okinawa” was opened in the city of Urazoe, Okinawa with the mission of preserving the unique Okinawan arts of Kumiodori, traditional Ryukyu dance and Ryukyu music. Michihiko Kakazu is a young artist in his thirties assumed the post of the Theatre’s second artistic director in April 2013 just before the Theatre’s 10th anniversary. Having begun traditional Ryukyu dance at the age of four, he went on to study Kumiodori at Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, he is now an artist dedicated to the preservation of the Kumiodori tradition and active as a stage director. In this interview we speak with Kakazu, the young artistic director whose creative work has included a new Kumiodori piece for children based on the children’s book Swimmy and collaboration with Kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando, and learn about the spirit of Kumiodori and carrying on this traditional art.
Interviewer: Kazumi Narabe, journalist
Photos: courtesy of the National Theatre Okinawa Management Foundation