Center to showcase Okinawan dance and music presentation

Dancers perform an Okinawan dance-drama called kumiwudui. -- Jimpu Kai USA photo

The community is invited to enjoy an afternoon of Okinawan music and dance from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center in Wailuku. Admission is free to the family-friendly event.

Three teachers received an Apprentice Mentoring Grant in 2019 from the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to support mentoring of an advanced student in their respective cultural practice. They will be completing a full year of intensive learning. Their final activity is a presentation to share their work with the public.

The three teams are:

• Cheryl Nakasone (teacher) and Wendy Tamashiro (apprentice). Tamashiro is learning more about the unique Okinawan dance-drama called kumiwudui. Nakasone points out that “in Okinawan, it is more common that dancers rather than musicians learn kumiwudui. Learning this art form involves learning the different styles of speaking, movement or dance, and learning the costumes and music (singing and playing the sanshin).”

• Allison Yanagi (teacher) and Kathleen Oshiro (apprentice). Oshiro is learning the kucho. Yanagi explains that “the Okinawan kucho (spike fiddle) has survived for hundreds of years. It is traditionally considered to be an accompanying instrument rather than a solo instrument.”

• Frances Nakachi Kuba (teacher) and Eric Kobayashi (apprentice). Kobayashi has also received dance certification in Okinawa. Kuba believes that “it is important to preserve and perpetuate our Okinawan culture. We learn about ourselves and others by understanding out roots, our history and our cultural traditions.”

The event is sponsored and presented by the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. It is hosted by Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai and the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center.

The Maui Okinawa Cultural Center is located at 688 Nukuwai Place.


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