Monday, August 13, 2012

Japanese Dance and Hibari Misora

Monday August 13, 10:15 a.m.

It was a pretty miserable day on Saturday when I went up to The Toronto Buddhist Church to catch my friend's dance recital there. It was actually my first time to the church in its new location and configuration. I'd used to go with my family to the old one on Bathurst St. deeper into downtown way back in the 70s, but not to pray but to watch Japanese drama videos on that newfangled contraption called a VCR. The old church had that traditional thatched-roof architecture, but this new one up north looks more Tadao Ando.

This buyokai was dedicated to the music of Hibari Misora, one of the singing legends of modern Japanese music. In terms of comparative status, I'd peg her with Elvis Presley and The Beatles in terms of how much an effect she had on the Japanese population. Her untimely death in 1989 at the age of 52 may have had Japan unofficially declaring a day or two of national mourning. Misora, through her music, led the people through the dark early days of the Postwar period all the way to the end of the Economic Bubble days of the late 80s. Her nom de genre was enka but she was known to have gone into jazz and even pop. I can't say, though, that I'm a huge fan of hers but since she released over 1,200 songs during her 40-year career, there are a number of them that I know just from hearing the opening notes.

These were the dancers...or at least, some of them...unfortunately, we were forbidden to take pictures during the performance itself. I was joined by The Dancer's family and so we all saw about 20 different performances all done to Misora's songs over the decades. The audience mostly consisted of folks older than me, so I was pretty sure that her music had an even more resonant effect on them. As for my friend, she performed a couple of in which she portrayed an old-fashioned Japanese thief in all-black, Her daughter also had a dance as well with two other young girls.

I would be rather intrigued if there were ever a similar buyokai done to the strains of Seiko Matsuda. Yes, I am being sarcastic here.