Kikunosuke OnoeKikunosuke Onoe


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Onoe Kikunojo Diary ~Listen to good things~


Kabuki, Hanamachi, Takarazuka, OSK, and even the ice show "Hyoen"... What is the choreography that Kikunojo Onoe talks about?



Hello. This is Kikunosuke Onoe. The beginning of the year was marked by a series of painful events that made me hesitate to say New Year's greetings. In particular, we pray for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the earthquake, and we sincerely hope that generous support will be provided to those affected as soon as possible, and that their health and smiles will be restored.




As I reported last time, we have been living in a state of turmoil since the summer of 2023. In July, the new Kabuki "Touken Ranbu Getstoken Enkiri" will be performed at Takarazuka's "Oshidori Uta Gassen", and in September, the 7th anniversary of Nogi Shrine's enshrinement "Gabu Shinin" will be performed at the National Theater. ``Actors Festival'' in October, ``Shinhen Itozakura'' where I tried my first straight play with Shinpa fans, ``Suimeikai'' in Pontocho, and in November ``Gokutsuke'' at Kabukiza. Indian Legend Mahabharata War Chronicles'', ``Japanese Dance Caravan'', recitation ``Tenshu Monogatari'', December's ``Itseikai'', and after the new year, the poetic drama ``Sara no Hikari'' and ``New Year Song and Dance'' at the New National Theatre. ``Gi Performance''.



Looking back on it now, I think I got through it pretty well. I'm finally feeling a little relieved now.

Pursuing the optimal swing. Responsible for choreography of various genres



Today, I would like to talk about "choreography". When I say "choreography" in one word, it ranges from choreographing dances that you have created and performed yourself, to choreographing and instructing professional dancers, such as ``Higashi Odori'' and ``Kamogawa Odori'' to geisha and geisha dancers. In case, there are stages of various genres such as new kabuki choreography such as "Mahabharata War", reviews of opera such as Takarazuka and OSK, dance choreography in the play, and figure skating ice show, and depending on the situation. I have to think about the choreography.



``Choreography'' literally means ``putting on choreography,'' but this task is extremely difficult. In my case, I start by listening to the music repeatedly and thoroughly. At this stage, it's still sitting. Once the music has become familiar to your ears, you will eventually stand up, start moving, and try to express yourself with your body. When I'm in Tokyo, I usually practice in Ginza, and the hotel rooms in the countryside are also my main battlefields. It is a completely solitary task, starting at night and sometimes lasting until the morning.



Sometimes it takes two or three hours of trial and error for a short 10-second scene.

Kikunosuke Onoe Kikunosuke Onoe

Training for Pontocho geishas at the Pontocho Kaburenjo in Kyoto.

Some people who come up with choreography sit down the whole time, think about it in their heads, and then write it down to music. I use the same method for classical music, and think about the choreography to a certain extent, but when it comes to non-classical music, such as new Kabuki performances or figure skating, I especially start by moving my own body. Surrender your body to the melody and rhythm of music. Is that an image?




In any case, working on choreography late at night is the most difficult part of the job, and can truly be called the pain of birth. When I'm silently choreographing alone in the rehearsal room and things don't go as planned, I feel like throwing everything away and running away. But I can't escape because the deadline is always right in front of me, and in most cases I have to hand over the work tomorrow.

"Hand over." A tense moment for the choreographer



Once the choreography is almost finalized, it's time to pass the choreography to the performers. This stage of ``handing over the choreography'' is the most important time for choreographers, and it is also a stressful time. I have many concerns, such as whether or not the performers will be able to accept me, whether my choreography may not be the best, whether I have taken into account the physical differences and characteristics of the dancers... I feel a great sense of accomplishment when my choreography is accepted and successfully passed on to the performers. It's the moment when you can output what you've been working on inside yourself, and your body and mind become lighter, and all the hard work you put in at the rehearsal hall late at night is blown away.



Sometimes, when we pass the choreography, we share our opinions with each other and make improvements on the spot. In particular, when rehearsing for a new Kabuki play, there are only a few days left until the first day, and we are required to make improvements on the spot, and it is not uncommon for us to change the music and start from scratch even before the first day. The scene of creating new work is sometimes a battlefield.

Kikunosuke Onoe, Kikunosuke Onoe,

I performed ``Suehirokari'' with my son Yoshito at the ``Itseikai'' Tokyo performance. It was a good memory.

Kabuki actor, Takarazuka, OSK, athlete. Different ways of approaching “choreography”



Kabuki actors have learned the unique Kabuki technique of acting flexibly on the stage at times, while remaining faithful to the basics. Therefore, I try to think about the choreography with a certain amount of flexibility, and approach the scene of handing it over, rather than being too rigid.



In the case of choreography for operas such as Takarazuka and OSK, in most cases the choreography is handed over after the choreography is more complete. In scenes that require a large number of performers to move, such as group dances, one of the choreographers' abilities is to efficiently pass on the choreography in the rehearsal room. I also try to make the timing and nuances of the music as clear as possible. The brilliance that is unique to opera is created because everyone in the theater company prepares this through high-quality independent rehearsals and takes the time to fine-tune it.



Even though the choreography is the same, figure skating is completely different. I was surprised when I was given the opportunity to choreograph for ``Hyoen,'' starring figure skater Daisuke Takahashi. In figure skating, if your skating line shifts even slightly or your body becomes unbalanced, it can lead to an instant fall. For this reason, skaters practiced the choreography hundreds or thousands of times to get the choreography deeply ingrained in their bodies. I watched them practice their choreography over and over again on land before going on the rink, and I was able to understand the harshness of being a skater competing at the top of the world. Of course, I realized that the world of athletes is very different from our world of dance.

Kikunosuke Onoe Kikunosuke Onoe

When I was in charge of the choreography for "Hyoen" starring figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, I of course bought My Skate Shoes. Choreography on ice has also become an irreplaceable experience for me as a dancer.

Kikunosuke Onoe and Daisuke Takahashi Kikunosuke Onoe and Daisuke Takahashi

With Daisuke Takahashi. I was able to see the greatness of these athletes up close.

Last year, I appeared in Shinpa's "Shinhen Itozakura" and experienced my first straight play. The two-day performance was, to put it simply, an exhilarating time. Of course, I was physically tired, but it was a fun time. When you act and express yourself, you are releasing yourself. I think this ``divergence'' is exhilarating and the joy of acting.



Thinking about choreography puts a lot of mental pressure on me. However, the choreography is handed over to the performers, and their choreography on stage brings joy to the audience. When you see the actual stage like that, you realize that the pain has been rewarding, and it gives you the courage to try harder next time. For a choreographer, practicing the choreography is the real thing. I want the dancers receiving the choreography to feel that this dance is wonderful and interesting. The first thing you see (the customer) is the dancer.

new Year. Move on to the next challenge with a new mindset



I don't have any days off, but I feel relieved just by being freed from late-night choreography work. At times like these, we have to find as much new material as possible. I would like to experience various genres, not just dance and theater, and accumulate new knowledge. When I was young, I was told, ``Don't watch the bad things, only watch the good things.'' It means that if you watch bad things, you won't be influenced by them, and that you should be exposed to good and beautiful things, but now that I'm a little older and have more experience, it's different. There's nothing wrong with watching it. It depends on what you feel from it and how you make use of it. So please feel free to come to the theater!



In February, preparations begin for Pontocho's "Kamogawa Odori" and Shinbashi Enbujo's "Higashi Odori." The theme of this year's "Kamogawa Odori" is "The Tale of Genji." So, what kind of choreography should we use this year? The difficult but rewarding season where we have to think about things will be upon us again. Thank you for your continued support this year.

Kikunojo Onoe


Born in March 1976 as the eldest son of Kikunojo Onoe (currently Bokuyuki), the third generation head of Nihon Buyo Onoe and the second generation. He studied under his father from the age of 3, and made his stage debut in ``Pine Green'' at the National Theater in 1981 (at the age of 1990). In 14 (at the age of 2011) he was allowed the name Seikaede Onoe. In August 8 (age 34), he inherited the title of Onoue's fourth iemoto, and at the same time assumed the name Onoue Kikunojo, the third. In addition to presiding over the Onoe-kai and Kikuju-kai dance clubs, he also presides over the "Itsei-kai" (a two-person gathering with Kyogen master Ippei Shigeyama) and his own recitals, creating both classical and new works. He continues to put a lot of effort into releasing various works. He is also actively collaborating with artists of various genres, including Eitetsu Hayashi, one of Japan's leading Japanese drum players.


For inquiries to “Kikunojo FAN CLUB”, please contact:Onoue official website.


◆Please also see the interview with Kikunojo Onoe

Onoue Kikunojo Onoue's prologue to his challenge - to the production of the new Kabuki "Touken Ranbu" (Part 1)

Onoue Kikunojo Onoue's prologue to his challenge - to the production of the new Kabuki "Touken Ranbu" (Part 2)


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Onoe Kikunojo Diary ~Listen to good things~

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