Gankyo Nakamura


Japanese Kabuki theater

Photo of master Kabuki performer Gankyo Nakamura (left) with his 2010 apprentice Lea Sachiko YamaguchiJapanese Kabuki theater, known for its highly stylized dance-drama and the elaborate make-up worn by its performers, has been performed for over 400 years.  Originally an all-female form, under the Tokugawa Government, women were banned from performing Kabuki, and men were assigned roles of both male and female characters.  Kabuki theater has a rich tradition of singing, acting, and dancing, combining different techniques and aspects of various other traditional Japanese theaters such as Noh and Kyogen.  Kabuki dances incorporate strict training of both the mind and body, in order to achieve complete harmony with music and dance.

Gankyo Nakamura has been studing Japanese classical dance since the age of 3, under the instruction of Madam Bando Mitsuhiro of Los Angeles.  At the age of 23, he was apprenticed to National Living Treasure Sakata Tojuo IV (then Nakamura Ganjiro III), making him the first non-Japanese citizen to be accepted into the Kabuki theater in its over 400 year history.  He has received both his natori (Master's degree) and shihan (PhD) in Japanese classical dance.

Gankyo participated in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2010 with apprentice Lea Sachiko Yamaguchi.  During the apprenticeship, Sachiko underwent strict training in the secrets of the Kabuki dance Renjishi, or Lion Dance, a piece with origins in Noh and Kyogen theatre which demands distinct techniques, and cross-training in male and female character form distinctive of the Kansai lineage from which Gankyo comes.  Gankyo guided Sachiko through the movements, history, and legends that surround this piece, along with training her body to endure over seventy pounds of costume and wig.

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Master Kabuki performer Gankyo Nakamura (left) with his 2010 apprentice Lea Sachiko Yamaguchi (Marianne Yamaguchi, 2010)

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