2014-2015 Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Lecture on Japanese Culture

Noh theater performers

Hisa Uzawa and Hikaru Uzawa

Hisa Uzawa, one of the first women to act as a lead shite performer in a traditional Noh lineage, is a prominent member of the Tessenkai branch of the Kanze School of Noh theater. She has been designated as a cultural treasure by the Japanese government, and has trained under such masters of the Kanze School as her own father, the late Uzawa Masashi; the late Kanze Hisao, known for his productions of both Noh theater and Greek tragedies; and also the late Kanze Tetsunojō VIII, who was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal, a mark of distinction granted in the name of the Japanese emperor. At the age of three, Hisa Uzawa made her first stage appearance in the Noh play Shōjō, and since then has continued to promote this tradition as one of only a handful of female Noh actors.

Hikaru Uzawa is the eldest daughter of Hisa Uzawa, and likewise made her first stage appearance at the age of three in a play entitled Oimatsu (Elderly Pine). Her first experience performing as the lead shite role came at the age of thirteen in the play Shōjō. After training under Kanze Tetsunojō IX, Hisa eventually set out on her own as an independent Noh actor. Since then she has been involved in several performances both within and outside of Japan, as well as a number of workshops held in Phillips Academy Andover (2009), Pittsburg University (2013), and Ohio State University (2013).

In their New York debut, Hisa and Hikaru Uzawa introduced the dynamics and techniques of the six-hundred-fifty year tradition of dance that lies at the heart of the Noh theater. The Uzawas performed climactic dance sequences from four major plays and present behind-the-scenes details of costume and choreography.


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