Studio 1398

“OKUNI” – Mother of Kabuki

OKUNI – Mother of Kabuki is a 70-minute world premiere choreographed and performed by artistic director, Yayoi Hirano. Okuni, born in Izumo, Japan, was a former shrine dancer who started the Kabuki movement in the 1600’s. Okuni created numerous dramatic and elaborate Kabuki (‘avant-garde’ or ‘bizarre’) performances that were heavily influenced by western costume and jewelry. Okuni’s dance movements were initially like those of a shrine dancer (Miko-dance), but then she, in her avant-garde style, incorporated forms like Bugaku and Sarugaku (later called Noh-theatre). In this dance form, women played men in various comedic plays that garnered popularity and influenced other rival dance troupes. In 1615, Okuni mysteriously disappeared.
OKUNI – Mother of Kabuki focuses on Okuni’s transformation from using a shrine maiden dance style to performing Bugaku, while gradually taking on elements of Noh-theatre (Sarugaku), and finally Kabuki.
The performance begins with street scenes in Kyoto performed to the surreal Sara Davis Buchner piano interpretations of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Set designer Shizuka Kai’s hand-painted scenography and video designer Kyle Stooshnov’s projections integrate with Yayoi’s movement to show the hustle of the street life and how people lived and worked in Japan in the 1600’s.
Born and raised in Japan, Yayoi Hirano has lived in Vancouver since 2002. She is a graduate of Toho Gakuen College of drama (1972), and in 1975 co-founded Mime Theatre Pierrot-kan to popularize pantomime in Japan through modern works. Over the past 30 years she has continued her study of Japanese dance and movement such as Kagura, Noh, Kyogen, and Kabuki, as well as ballet and modern dance. Her mime studies have been in both Decroux and Lecoq systems.

Performances of  at Studio 1398: March. 1 (Wed) – March 10 (Fri): 8pm; Matinee on Saturday March 4th & Sunday March 5th: 3pm
Sunday March 5th, Matinee only at 3pm, Monday March 6th dark day (no show)

Concept/Director/Dancer/Choreographer: Yayoi Hirano
Musicians: Sara Davis Buechner (Piano) Minoru Yamamoto (Flute)
Lighting Designer: John Webber
Dramaturg: Catherine Lee
Stage Manager: Jessica Mary Keenan
Set Designer: Shizuka Kai
Costume: Fumiko Horan, Sachie Ono
Scenic Artist: Mariko Ando
Video Designer: Kyle Stooshnov
Noh Masks: Yayoi Hirano
Photographer: Yukiko Onley


“Yayoi Hirano is one of Vancouver’s hidden treasures – a living testament to the enduring evocative power of the kabuki and noh traditions of Japan ” Barbara Bourget – VIDF Co-producer

Box Office: 604.662.4966 Phone: 604.662.7441 info@vidf.ca

250 – 111 West Hastings St, 2nd Floor - #224, Vancouver BC V6B 1H4