It’s Hidden in the Dance

This weekend some of our karate students, my husband, and I were invited to a kanpai (celebration), where we had the pleasure of being entertained by Okinawan dancers. What I find fascinating about traditional Okinawan dance is that karate techniques are hidden within them, especially in the traditional young men’s dance. I’ve seen some of these dances before, and enjoy pointing out the techniques and stances we do in our katas (forms) as the dancers perform.

Below are pictures of the Sachiyo Ito & Company dancers (located in Manhattan) performing a traditional Okinawan court dance, a yotsudake dance. The performers wore beautiful, brightly colored bingata kimono and lotus flower headdresses. As they danced, they sounded the yotsudake, which are four bamboo pieces held in their hands and clapped together similar to castanets.  I tried to include video, but had trouble.  If I can get that working, I’ll put it up.

After doing a little internet research on this graceful and elegant dance, I learned that the dance is about welcoming the guest and showing the host’s gratitude, as well as joy of entertaining.

After their performance, they asked if anyone wanted to come up and dance. You bet I did! I downed the rest of my awamori (a distilled Okinawan liquor) and joined in along with most of the women there and a few men too. I had a great time! No video of me dancing. 🙂  But here is a picture of me from the back.

And another… (Am I dancing or making a dog shadow puppet?)

All this hidden meaning got me wondering. Are there dances from other cultures with secrets buried within them? Irish dancing maybe? Hmm…

~K.M. Fawcett

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