Asia, Japan

PARASOL DANCE – Japan: ‘The Umbrella dance’

Parasol, an asian dance form is performed on a song called ‘Mikado’. This umbrella dance is said to have originated from Japan. Apparently, this dance has its root deeply embedded within the theatre arts of Japan. In addition, this dance is mainly performed at spring festivals. Furthermore, it has essentially been derived from a dance tradition followed in Okinawa referred to as “Higasa Odori”.

a. History/origin of the Japanese Parasol Dance:

It was during the 18th and 19th centuries that a dance technique called “Higasa Odori” was developed by a man called Tamagusuku Seiju in the Ryukyuan court in Okinawa in Japan.

These dances were primarily performed to honour and amuse Chinese ambassadors. There were five distinct dance genres:

“Young people’s dance” is wakashu-odori.

Rojin-odori: “the dance of the elderly”

Dramatic dance, Uchikumi-odori

Nisei-odori: a dance for men

Onna-odori: a dance for women

This style of dancing persisted until Okinawa became a prefecture, at which point it was incorporated into the “outlaw” Kabuki theatre. The theatres were constructed far outside the city walls, sometimes even in the river bottoms, because the original Kabuki performances were considered immoral and unfit for polite Japanese society. Like many other “outlaw” theatre genres, Kabuki gained enormous popularity, and its Ryukyuan-style dance forms were passed down from performer to performer.

Furthermore, it was thus using “Higasa Odori” as a template that Japanese Parasol dance originated

b. Costumes used in the Parasol Dance:

The costumes worn in this dance style mainly includes a Kimono, a parasol (i.e. a Japanese umbrella), and Japanese wooden shoes.

c. Music involved in the Parasol Dance:

The music used in this dance style is a song called “Mikado”.

d. Training availability and technique involved in the Parasol Dance:

In terms of technique, this dance style basically involves performers arranging themselves in a group of four. In addition, the performer is supposed to hold the “parasol” i.e. umbrella in the hand while performing. Furthermore, the hand holding the parasol is positioned at the chest level while dancing to the count of one, two, three, four, and one using a “shuffling” dance step. As for training centres/schools, there are none available around the world since this “umbrella” dance is mainly performed in Japan.

Some of the best Parasol Dance Videos:

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Japanese Parasol Dance
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