Dance is only one component in the multifaceted stage experience of the Grand Kabuki--but it is the focus of the Koryu Kabuki company, which made its American debut Sunday in Scottish Rite Auditorium.
This company of distinguished Japanese teachers (members of the Traditional Arts Exchange Society) did not neglect the theatrics of Kabuki dance: the spectacular scenery and sumptuous costumes. Indeed, the seven-part program stretched to nearly four hours largely due to the full set changes between selections.
Its major achievement, however, was allowing the public to appreciate Kabuki movement design--the traditional dance texts--without the extraordinary coloring that Grand Kabuki stars provide.
When Tamasaburo Bando V of the Grand Kabuki performs "Sagi Musume" (Heron Maiden), for instance, the stylization of man-into-woman-into-bird becomes so distilled in his overwhelming personal radiance, one is tempted to think of the piece solely as a vehicle. In contrast, the smaller scale but artful performance Sunday by Ms. Tokuya Azuma highlighted the structure and formal motifs of the solo: its refined choreographic craftsmanship.