Bandō Tamasaburō V is a Kabuki actor and one of the most famous onnagata (actor specializing in female roles) currently. Watch his Sagi Musume (Heron Maiden) and one of his interviews.

Sagi Musume (Heron Maiden) Summary:

The set is a frozen pond in the middle of Winter. The music from the geza is the classic sound effect for falling snow. The spirit of the heron appears on a platform, dressed in white, solitary and silent. This dance is a series of transformations, done through costume changes using either the bukkaeri or the hikinuki techniques to switch the roles. The first change turns the dancer into a young maiden in love, dressed in a beautiful red kimono, who dances the joy of love in a lively atmosphere. Her love is a short one and the next section of the dance is no more about happiness but sadness and jealousy. The dance is getting darker and the final change brings back the spirit of the heron, who frantically dances, depicting the torments of hell and pleading for pity. The highlight of this section is an ebizori pose. Then the heron maiden collapses on stage, bringing the dance to a close. (Source)

Helpful commentary in English might ease the interpretation of the performance.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3 (Finale).

[via Kabuki: Sagi Musume (Japandit)]

This next video is from an anniversary of the famous taiko group Kodo.

This is the beginning of the first half of “Amaterasu“, filmed in May 2006 in Tokyo. Tamasaburo directed the performance and co-staged with the Taiko group Kodo. He plays Amaterasu (sun goddess) while Fujimoto Yoshikazu plays Amaterasu’s brother Susanoo (god of sea and storm).

The next clip is an excerpt of the 1995 film “The Written Face (書かれた顔)” by Daniel Schmid where Tamasaburo talks about being an onnagata.

Some quotes:

“I try to portray an ideal image of woman in the same way a male writer describes feminine feelings from a standpoint of a man. I do not represent a woman, but I suggest the essence of a woman. That is the nature of onnagata, isn’t it?”

“I have nothing to say, that is why I act and dance. Which is where everything I wish to express can be seen.”

6 thoughts on “Bandō Tamasaburō V Performance and Interview

  1. Indeed, you are on the right track, but Alto-hime is not quite a master of the art like Tamasaburo. Perhaps, a more accurate comparison would be to Taichi Saotome, a person Alto’s character was based on (both Alto and real life boy have the same last name 😛 ).

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