Odori history
Ms. Lorna Arndt
(780) 492-7887
University of Alberta
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History of Odori Dance

The history of ODORI (dance) goes back many centuries. Odori shares the same origin as Kabuki, which started about 400 years ago. Nishikawa-ryu style of classical Japanese Odori was established over 220 years ago in Edo (now Tokyo) when Japan was still governed by a shogun whose lords served him as loyally as they were served by their samurai. About 60 years later, Koisaburo Nishikawa (1823-1900), a dancer who had studied the Japanese arts of Noh and Kyogen moved from Tokyo to Nagoya. There he combined techniques of classical Japanese theater to create a novel style of Japanese dance.

The Nishikawa School became more widely known after the second Koisaburo Nishikawa (1909-1983) became its director. Koisaburo used his training as a Kabuki actor to further refine the Nishikawa style of dance. During the course of his lifetime, he created over 3000 dances and established an annual dance festival, the Nagoya Odori. Through his efforts, the performances of the Nagoya Odori have become as familiar to Japanese audiences as popular stage musicals and Kabuki works.

On the death of the second Koisaburo, his eldest son Ukon Nishikawa (1939-) succeeded him as headmaster. Under his guidance, the school has broadened the scope of Odori by taking this unique Japanese art form to western audiences. The Nagoya Odori continues to delight viewers with new and original Japanese dance pieces as well as the great classical works.

The Nishikawa School - heart of traditional Japanese dance - is located in a quiet neighborhood near the Yamazaki river where it serves as a home base for more than 50,000 students throughout Japan.

Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research
c/o Department of East Asian Studies
400 Arts Building, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E6
Phone: (780) 492-2836
Fax: (780) 492-7440
E-mail: ptjc@ualberta.ca

Last updated: February 2, 2007
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