TOKYO DONTAKU

Japanese

 
PRONUNCIATION: TOH-kyoh dohn-TAH-koo
 
TRANSLATION: Bon Odori dance of Tokyo
 
SOURCE: Dick Oakes learned this dance from Madelynne Greene who learned it from Mary Scott in Honolulu, Hawaii, and taught it at the 1961 Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference.
 
BACKGROUND: This dance was learned in Honolulu where the Japanese community celebrates the Buddhist feast of the dead with week-end dance festivals on the ground in front of their temples. In Hawaii, O-Bon is celebrated with the festival being held at different temples each weekend. Temple courtyards are swept and surrounded with banners and prayer scrolls. Guiding lanterns are lit, food is prepared for the living and the departed. Dancers wear cotton yukata (kimonos), tabi (a covering for the foot, similar to a sock, having a separate pouchlike stall for the large toe), and chappal (Hawaiian for flip-flops or go-aheads). Cheerful Bon Odori (Bon dances) are performed by young and old alike. Musicians, usually including a gyrating O-Daiko (barrel-drum) drummer, occupy a raised wooden platform around which long lines of dancers circle. New dances are constantly being added by Japanese-trained dance masters, and old classics are performed, modified, or forgotten by participants through the folk process. Most temples conclude their ceremonies by blessing and launching down rivers or on the outgoing night tide, tiny wooden spirit boats carrying food and lanterns to accompany the departing spirits.
 
MUSIC:Express (45 rpm) E-212
Folk Dancer (45 rpm) MH-2050
Folkdance Underground (LP) 33 F.U. 3 A
Star (45 rpm) S-8414

Geisler, Richard. "Tokyo Dontaku" (sheet music), Village Dance Music from Around the World, The Village & Early Music Society, 15181 Ballantree Lane, Grass Valley, CA 95949-7633.

FORMATION:Cir of individual dancers facing CCW, hands at sides.
 
METER/RHYTHM: 4/4
 
STEPS/STYLE: Due to the restrictions of the kimono worn by the dancers, the steps are small. From long tradition, the steps are slightly pigeon-toed, and the knees are slightly bent and close together. The thumb is kept under the index finger, the fingers are kept together, and the hands and arms are moved gracefully. The men dance more virorously and they bind their foreheads with cotton towels given by each temple to those who dance there.
 

MEASMOVEMENT DESCRIPTION

 
 INTRODUCTION
 
1-8 No action.
 
 THE DANCE
 
1CEREMONIAL BOW: Facing and moving in LOD, step R fwd, lightly clapping hands in front of chest (ct 1); step L fwd, lightly clapping hands in front of chest (ct 3);
2Step R, bending knee, while leaving L in place as hands are crossed in front of chest, palms down (ct 1); step back onto L as hands are swept down and out to sides (ct 2); step R next to L, clapping hands in front of chest (ct 3).
 
3PADDLE BOAT: As if paddling a boat, step L moving both hands bwd along L side (ct 1); step R, moving both hands bwd along R side (ct 3).
 
4LOOK IN MIRROR: Step L, bringing L hand in front of L ear with palm bwd as if pulling back the hair while R hand is extended fwd with palm fwd and fingers up as if looking into a mirror (ct 1); repeat action of ct 1 with opp ftwk and handwk (ct 2); repeat action of ct 1 (ct 3).
 
5MAKE TREE: Step R with toe pointed outside, bending knees deeply, and with rounded arms, touch finger tips at knee level with palms up (ct 1); straightening knees, bring arms outward and up and, with rounded arms, and touch fingertips overhead with palms up as L heel is brought up behind to raise "kimono" off of floor, shin parallel to floor (ct 3);
6Repeat action of meas 5 to ctr with opp ftwk.
 
7HOLD SLEEVE: Stepping R,L,R, turn slowly to face out of cir while R hand is held at head level, palm bwd, and L hand is held under R elbow as if keeping "kimono sleeve" from swinging (cts 1,2,3);
8Repeat action of meas 7 to ctr with opp ftwk and handwk.
 
 Repeat entire dance from beg.
Copyright © 2012 by Dick Oakes