The Dance of the Four Seasons

dance

花競四季寿

はなくらべしきのことぶき

Hanakurabe Shiki no Kotobuki

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This play, which illustrates the introduction of dance, was first performed in 1809 in the temple of Goryosha in Osaka. It is divided into four acts, each associated with one of the four seasons: "Manzai" (spring), "Ama" (summer), "Sekiderakomachi" (autumn) and "Sagimusume" (winter). It is believed that the music was composed by TSURUSAWA Tomojiro III and that NOZAWA Kichibei III adapted it at a later date. Excerpts from this play are occasionally performed separately.

This is a set of dances that was first performed in 1782 and the current version dates from 1809. Each section is connected to one of the seasons and features striking characters. It probably was first created in parallel with the craze in kabuki for sets of dances featuring one star performer. The pieces are very sophisticated musically and there are lengthy sections of pure music without the puppets.


The Manzai Entertainers

Manzai

At New Year's, pairs of entertainers would go from door to door doing auspicious songs listing all sorts of things bringing good fortune using word plays and images that are sometimes very earthy. In this case, the song includes a list of fish sold by female peddlers in Kyoto.

The scene takes place on the streets of Kyoto. The facades of the houses are decorated with the traditional shimenawa (a rope of twisting strands of rice straw) and large arrangements of pine branches, called hadomatsu, are placed in front of each house. To greet the god of the New Year, two street entertainers go from house to house extending greetings and best wishes for prosperity and longevity. They sing "May you remain young and enjoy a long and prosperous life. A joyous new year has begun..." and frolic about while singing a song whose lyrics are intended to bring good fortune, "The Yashome family of Kyoto sold big sea bream, small sea bream and yellowtail. What do I see on the shelves? Fabrics of brocade, damask and bright red silk crepe, bright red satin!"

The Fisher Girl

ama

A fisher girl dreams of love and the living things around the beach stand in for the object of her affections.

Komachi at Sekidera

Sekidera Komachi

The famous poet and beauty Ono no Komachi as a withered hag. She recalls the passion of the past and contemplates the difference with the present.

The Heron Maiden

Sagi Musume

A young girl in a white kimono in the snow looks like a heron. The snow on the trees look like blossoms and the dance ends on a colorful note.


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