Traditional Okinawan dance developed more than 300 years ago in the royal court. There are three main genres, kumidori (operatic), Ryukyu Buyo (traditional), and semi-traditional dance. Over forty years ago, at the age of 24, Noriyoshi Arakaki began studying this ancient art form. He was encouraged by his father, a dancer, singer, and actor in a community center in Okinawa. The young Noriyoshi studied kumidori with Grand Master Noho Miyagi, a National Human Treasure in Japan who teaches at the University of Arts in Okinawa. After Noriyoshi had excelled and passed the three required tests in Okinawan dance, Grand Master Miyagi asked him to leave Okinawa to teach at the Miyagi Ryu Ohtori no Kai USA. Noriyoshi has been teaching at Miyagi Ryu Ohtori no Kai USA in the Bay Area since 1989.
In 2000 and 2005, Noriyoshi was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with one of his most promising students, his daughter Yuka. Yuka has studied with her father and performed with him in events in the Okinawan community as well as for non-Okinawans for over twenty years. During the apprenticeships, Noriyoshi taught Yuka specific dance techniques and giving her advanced training in emotional expression. The training continued Yuka’s preparation for her second of three official dance tests in Okinawa.