Seminar: Takarazuka – A Hundred Years of Song and Dance


The Takarazuka Revue Company, one of the largest theatre groups in Japan, features an all-female cast that specialises in either a “male role” or a “female role” in the musicals, stage dramas and dance revues. Showcasing a wide range of genres, it has attracted a mass audience of mostly female followers, resulting in tickets sales reaching fever pitch levels. But what is the role of Takarazuka in the world of Japanese theatre and what does it signify?

This special event commemorating the 100th anniversary of Takarazuka provides an opportunity to cultivate a cross-cultural understanding of the theatre company through discussion. Beginning with a brief talk by Dr Nobuko Anan, a lecturer in Japanese studies at Birkbeck, University of London, regarding the history and characteristics of Takarazuka, she will be joined by Noriko Tosaka (aka Ai Otohara) and Machiko Nakano (aka Reo Kazami), two distinguished former Takarazuka performers, as well as Jano Williams, co-director of the documentary Dream Girls (1994). Tosaka and Nakano will reflect on their past experiences inside the exclusive, fiercely competitive company whose practices have remained largely unchanged for a century. As arguably one the first filmmakers outside of Japan to capture the elite world of Takarazuka, Williams, a British filmmaker, will speak about their motives for making their insightful film, and what they observed through the camera behind the scenes of the dazzling revue.

Following the discussion, the former Takarazuka performers will take part in a short demonstration illustrating the distinct form of male and female characterisations that the company is so well known for.

This event will extend beyond a simple overview of Takarazuka and together, the speakers, each with their own perspectives, will delve into the impact of Takarazuka, issues associated with Takarazuka, including gender, as well as the societal norms that have created this spectacular scene.

Date: 27 June 2014 from 6.30pm
Venue: The Japan Foundation, London

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