January 30, 2011

Virtual journey to Okinawa

What do you do when you have 2 weeks to come up with a really cool, Okinawan and Japanese-inspired costume for an upcoming performance? You do a lot of research and you create something over-the-top, dramatic, and theatrical. Accuracy is not an option with only 2 weeks lead time, so it's just about looking like some kind of Japanese-Okinawan performer.
Why all of this? I'm performing with my taiko group at Flam Chen's "Cannibal's Cabaret", a show on February 12th.
We are jamming to a modern Japanese-techno song "Koza Riot" by  Ryukyu Underground.  I'm going to be a "dancer" and I'm coming up with my own costume. Since I'm the only one playing this part, I have a huge amount of creative license. Since the music is inspired by the dance clubs on Okinawa, I'm going to base my costume very loosely on the gorgeous bingata kimono of the Eisa dancers as well as some traditional Japanese kimono elements. My main obstacle is the fantastic hats they wear, the hanagasa. Since this is a public performance at a club, most people there will know nothing of Japanese costumes or dance. I feel the hat is going to be the essence of the costume, the most important thing to distinguish me as something other than the typical Geiko or Maiko or Kabuki dancers, something the club-goers might already be familiar with. (I don't want to hear people keep asking "are you a geisha?") These hats look like a giant red lotus and are really beautiful. In the next few days, I'll be working on the structure of the hat and trying to create something similar in my art studio.
For the kimono, unfortunately I don't own a bingata-style kimono (I can't order one from Japan in time either!) nor anything in that rich yellow you see in the photos below except maybe an obi. But I do have a kimono that might work. My color scheme is going to be mostly red & white with some of the bright yellow and that brilliant blue-violet. The crew may be able to make the kimono look yellow with lighting, but I think as long as the colors are bright and high-contrast, and I have the hanagasa, I'll at least look good enough for a 7-minute performance.
I'll keep you updated on how this goes, including photos!
Here are some of the images I'm using for inspiration:

1 comment:

  1. These Okinawan costumes are so beautiful!They're brilliant coloring.
    Exquisite coloring contrast.Amazing photos.