Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Day 2 (Aug. 11th) – Part I --

It is my philosophy that you have to see the parade, not the stage dance, to fully appreciate the essence of Yosakoi festival. From the audience’s point of view, the dancers' moves look more powerful and dynamic when they are “coming towards you,” I think. Also the audience has the advantage of seeing the dancers from all directions -- front, side and back – as they pass by. For the dancers, on the other hand, parade is a great setting for “interactions with the audience.” In the parade, dancers come very close to the audience, and there's always very responsive people among the bystanders. If the dancers appeal to them with big, passionate moves, they love it and instantly show it by cheering up the dancers, which make the dancers feel more and more excited.

Dancers #9

I also believe that summer is the best season for this festival. For me this is the opportunity to experience something extraordinary -- something crazy and ecstatic -- in the ordinary settings I see every day. In my opinion, the heat, the sweat and real loud music are essential for that craze to be intensified to the max.

Dancers # 10

When I saw the dance parade for the first time as an audience, I was surprised that the sweat and the costume with Japanese traditional design made such an unexpected, beautiful combination. I love the beauty of Japanese traditional clothes, kimono, but all the traditional customs and performing arts I associate with kimono were calm, elegant and sensitive ones -- nothing to do with a flood of sweat. Imagine a person doing tea ceremony being soaked wet by the sweat. It’s nothing but pitiful and certainly not a great picture, don't you think? But in the Yosakoi dance, I saw the bright red lipstick, the Japanese traditional patterns on the costume, the dancers’ smile and beads of sweat on their faces, arms and shoulders… and they all looked so beautiful and riveting altogether that I instantly fell in love.

Dancers #11

On the second day of the festival, I was more used to the dance, and I kept wondering if anyone in the audience was feeling the same way as I did and falling in love with this crazy event like I did a few years back. We danced at a few new venues that day. As I got more comfortable with dancing, I noticed a change in myself. To my surprise, I was getting more and more greedy, wanting a prize.

In Yosakoi festival, a judges’ booth is set up at every venue and a few judges stay there the whole day (maybe taking turns?) Their job is to find good dancers and reward them with medals. Of course, the judges are not professional dancers or anything. They are just some volunteers(?) from the neighborhood, and the criteria for the prize is pretty subjective and largely non-technical, like “Oh he looks very energetic” or “Mmm, her smile is fantastic!” or “Boy, that grandma is doing a great job for her age,” etc. So actually, getting a medal does not necessarily mean that you are a good dancer, and not getting any does not mean you are a bad one.

Dancers #12

Participants including myself knew that very well…but… you know, when you keep witnessing others getting rewarded one after another and you get none, you start feeling down. That happened to me, too. On the first day, I never ever thought about the medals. On the second day, in the beginning, I was still more worried about some team members from other prefectures having to go back empty handed without medals. Honestly I was really happy when such members got medals and jumped around with joy.

But… then what about me? Was my dance THAT dull that deserved no medal at all ???

Photos by Mr. K. Kawasaki.
* Photos are not quite related to the storyt.
posted by obachan, 8/16/2005 09:15:00 AM


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