All-female Okinawa Song and Dance Theatre Ensemble, Chura, recently performed their Tale of the Southern Winds shows in Sydney and Melbourne. Tracy Pham visited to discover a love for all things Okinawa.
Known for its interestingly rich cultural heritage, delicious food and most notably the breathtakingly natural beauty of its islands, the Okinawa region of Japan is one of the country’s most beloved, both by locals and tourists.
On December 17, Tales of Southern Winds – an hour-long performance fronted by the all-female Okinawa Song and Dance Theatre Ensemble, Chura – beautifully captured the spirit of the region, amazing its audience with ten different themed performances including ‘Take no Mai’ (Dance of Bamboo), ‘Hojo’ (Good Fertility) and ‘Bi-daiko’ (Beautiful Drum).
Established in 1998, Chura was the first professional all-female music and dance group to hail from Okinawa. Since its establishment, their efforts have been to work towards preserving the essence of the traditional Ryuku Dance of the region by promoting it through original music, dance and theatre performances both in Japan and around the world.
Successfully blending a variety of performances such as Kumi-odori (a type of ensemble dance), martial arts, lion dancing and of course Ryuku dancing, Chura’s show encapsulated the life and passion of Okinawa and its people.
Creative director, Reiko Ota – an award-winning performer, choreographer and producer of Okinawan traditional dance – couldn’t have been more pleased with Chura’s efforts and of Tale of the Southern Winds.
“It has been a series of inspirational moments, hearing the cheers and applause from audiences around the world. I feel happy about performing while being proud of the wonderful traditional entertainment from Okinawa,” she said.
The performance that Chura put on that evening could be easily described as phenomenal. Personally speaking, I felt I learnt a lot more about Okinawa and its people who I always felt were cheerful, strong, gentle optimistic and constructive no matter how severe the situation. After the show and talking to some of the show’s staff, I went from considering Okinawa as a Japanese tourist destination to a culturally and politically fascinating community, one I would actually like to try living in someday.
Were you at the show? What did you think? Sound off in the comments box below!