Hanayagi Chiyo has dedicated her life to performing, creating and teaching Japanese Dance. Above all, her passion has been to analyze Nihonbuyō and make it understood and appreciated in Japan and abroad. By ceaseless creative work she has established a reputation as a magnificent dancer, and outstanding teacher and scholar of Japanese Dance. Her book, Fundamentals of Japanese Dance has been read by more than 90,000 people in Japan. The recent English version is the realization of Hanayagi Chiyofs dream to bring a deeper understanding of this art to a broad international audience.

Hanayagi Chiyo began her Japanese Dance training at age six, and received her professional name at age sixteen. Two years later she was performing Nihonbuyō professionally. Within a few years she won first prize in a major competition, and the next year opened her studio in Toshima-ku (ward) in Tokyo. At this time she began researching the fundamentals of Japanese Dance in preparation for writing her books and creating her fundamental exercises. Her purpose was to spread and share her joy and understanding of Japanese Dance.

In 1981 she published in Japanese the first edition of Fundamentals of Japanese Dance which has, since then, gone through sixteen editions in Japan and one in China. Hanayagi Chiyo also created a series of Fundamental Exercises in Japanese Dance, which have been used extensively. Since dance in Japan is traditionally taught by learning one dance after another, it seemed good pedagogy to create exercises focused on each aspect of dance movement, for example: menfs styles of walking, womenfs walks, head movements, hand movements, slide-steps techniques, stamping exercises, etc. Having mastered these exercises, the student can begin learning more effectively the great dance repertoire after becoming acquainted with the basic movement patterns. These exercises have been issued as videos and DVDs, and there are plans to issue them in English as well.

In 1976, Hanayagi Chiyo made her first visit to the United States, invited by the Los Angeles Japanese Dance Association. She conducted workshops and demonstrations of her Fundamental Exercises at UCLA, Pomona College, Rio Hondo, San Francisco State and the University of Hawaii. The following year she was invited to teach at UCLA where, for seven weeks, she conducted classes.
In 1981 she returned to UCLA with four other distinguished artists from traditional Japanese performing arts. The five masters of Noh, Kyogen, Japanese Dance, Shamisen and Drums, taught for the seven week summer session at UCLA, and later participated in a nation-wide satellite telecast connecting Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

In 1985 Hanayagi Chiyo continued her international gmissionh in China, where she was invited by the Chinese Art Research Institute. She traveled throughout China for forty-three days, meeting scholars and teachers, conducting workshops of her Fundamental Exercises, and presenting demonstrations. She was also taking in the rich old Chinese culture which inspired her subsequently to choreograph a dance piece, Kasei Kairō, for which she received a Japanese Dance Critics Prize. In 1994 she choreographed an entire dance drama, em>Dai Tonkō, inspired by her visit to the Buddhist caves of Dunhuang and incorporating Chinese and Japanese culture. In Japan she presented Dai Tonkō at the National Theatre, and later, in China, to celebrate the normalization of relations in 1997, she performed it in Beijing, where it was also televised. Several times, Hanayagi Chiyo has taken Japanese artists to China, most notably groups of distinguished traditional Japanese artists who performed in major cities in 1989 and 2001. Hanayagi Chiyo has been honored by a number of prizes and awards in China, including an honorary doctorate from the Chinese Drama Academy, and the prestigious Cultural Exchange Prize from the Chinese Government Cultural Division.

Another important pedagocial activity was Hanayagi Chiyofs organization, in 1984, of the Mejiro Sannin no Kai, or Mejiro Three Persons Group. With distinguished teachers of modern dance (Fuji Mieko) and ballet (Kobayashi Noriko), she formed a group to study the connections among the three dance forms and to present lecture demonstrations comparing them. All three women teach in the area of Mejiro in Tokyo, in the Toshima Ward (ku). The group, which has performed for more than a quarter century, received educational and cultural prizes from the city of Tokyo for popularizing dance and enhancing local culture. Their work was celebrated in a book published in 1987 entitled To Live in Dance: Three People, Three Dances.

In 1978 Hanayagi Chiyo was asked to teach classes in Nihonbuyō to students in the Opera School of the Ministry of Culture. She continues to teach this form of corporeal expression to the students of the School of Opera at the New National Theatre in Tokyo.

Hanayagi Chiyo has performed in Okinawa, Turkey, Greece, and Switzerland, often presenting workshops and her Fundamental Exercises. Although her life work has been to introduce Japanese Dance in Japan and abroad, she has also established a reputation as a dancer and choreographer. She has been awarded dozens of prizes in Japan. Since 1978 she has won the Creative Dance (Sōsaku Buyō) Prize in national competitions fifteen times. She has received Shidōshō, Teaching Prize, thirty-six times. She has received prizes for her development of new pedagocial methods, for her long devotion to Japanese Dance, and for her outstanding achievement in international cultural exchange. In 1995, she was decorated by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Sacred Crown, Fourth Degree.

  • HOME
  • ₢
go top