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ENDTHE LION DANCE
(Kagamijishi)
Kikugoro Onoe VI
Filmed in 1935
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
As you all know,
Kabuki actor Kikugoro Onoe VI
is the most talented
of the last few years.
He inherited his quick-wittedness
from his father Kikugoro V
while showing a brilliant inspiration
worthy of the children of Edo.
He was born in a great kabuki family
ruled by respect and tradition.
Thus he was inevitably spoiled.
But he also had a mischievous side,
being very quick-witted,
that allowed him to bear
his father's authority.
The father entrusted
his son's education
to Danjuro Ichikawa IX.
Kikugoro VI became the heir
of both the name and the art
of Kikugoro V.
He acquired strong basis
in kabuki dance
with master Danjuro IX
during his youth.
But he was only 19 years old
when is master died.
His full potential hadn't
revealed itself yet.
It was his innate talent and efforts
that allowed him to
develop his technique.
When he's dancing,
he doesn't neglect
any word or move.
He's always looking for perfection.
That's where the strength
of his dance lied
and it made it sublime.
Sometimes he had
bright and happy glorious feats.
Among his famous dances, we can mention
first his feminine roles in Dojoji,
Fujimusume and Kamuro.
His corpulence was a great help to
play young ingenuous girls
with generous curves.
When he played for the first time
the role of Kamuro,
who is 12-13 years old girl,
the scenery had to be extended.
All his moves and manners had
a look of a naive and
adorable young girl.
And in Yasuna's role,
he expressed a noble erotism
losing its reason in
the spring melancholy.
He played a funny and innocent boy
with the role of Kisen.
For Sanbaso's role,
requiring a naive and gay dance,
his performance was never lacking
nobility and rigour.
For No theatre roles,
like Tomomori and Tuchigumo that
he was interpreting with brilliance,
he wasn't just adapting them
to kabuki.
He succesfully showed humanity
and kabuki's special ,
different from No.
The Kagamijishi (Lion Dance ) is known
as the most difficult to perform.
On top of the complexity of the moves
and of the expression of the feelings,
this dance requires a lot of stamina.
Nobody else would have managed
to preform this dance so perfectly.
All the lion dances come from
No theatre's shakku.
Among the oldest ones,
there's the Makurajishi.
This dance includes a courtesan.
But Danjuro IX moved the scenery
to a big manor the evening
of a new year ceremony.
Yayoi, a peasant, is boiling
water to make some tea.
An old lady is coming to get her.
Shyly, the peasant shows her
her favorite dance.
Then, near the end of the dance,
when she's touching the lion's head,
the lion's spirit seizes her.
She vanishes then reappears as a lion,
She's dancing with a butterfly.
The script was written by a
revolutionary of this time,
Ouchi Fukuchi, in 1893.
Kikugoro VI played it
for the first time in 1914.
He was barely 30 years old.
This movie was made in 1935
when he was 51 years old,
with the help of the
Kokusai Bunka Shinko-kai
to promote the art of
Japanese dance abroad.
That's why it's missing
the first Yayoi dance
of which some parts have been modified.
At some point, it's not
the usual choreography.
But the heart and the highlight
of the show weren't changed.
Among the key scenes,
we can name
the description opening with
"In this time, the peonies...",
in which he's contemplating
the falling petals.
It's the famous scene
of the first act,
one of the hardest to perform.
We can admire his performance
when he's attracted by the lion's
spirit despite his fear,
then the scene where, once
he's become a lion,
he's shaking his long and heavy mane
with constancy and vigor
to incarnate an intrepid lion.
Those performances require
moral strength and technique.
The lion dance must express
strength and happiness.
And the curtain must fall
on a calm lion.
By watching this

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