Six Hokkaido Ainu groups perform at Upopoy to raise awareness about the uniqueness and tradition of ancient ceremonial dances
The Foundation for Ainu Culture manages the Ainu culture revival hub “Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park” (Shiraoi Town). In order to heighten awareness of ancient Ainu ceremonial dances that have been passed down through generations in various areas around Hokkaido, the Foundation has started inviting culture preservation societies from different areas to perform dances at Upopoy. Up through February of next year, culture preservation societies from various areas will teach about the characteristics and traditions of their areas through their dances.
Participation is slated from six groups belonging to the Hokkaido Ancient Ainu Ceremonial Dance Alliance Preservation Society, which are the Obihiro, Urakawa, Shiraoi, Sapporo, Chitose, and Akan (in Kushiro City) groups. They will explain the characteristics of the dances and the origins of the movements, and perform dances including Kurimse (the Bow Dance) and Sarorunchikaprimse (the Crane Dance).
The performances will run about two to four days per month. The performances started in July, and each group is performing two 30 minute sessions per day on Saturdays and Sundays.
In the past, Upopoy staff members have received instruction from tradition-keepers in each different area around Hokkaido, and have then gone on to introduce the various dances in a traditional performance art presentation program.
The Foundation for Ainu Culture commented, “We have never had tradition-keepers from the different areas come dance at one location. We want Upopoy to serve as a hub for people to attain a better understanding of the culture and differences of the different regions by experiencing the dances of each area firsthand.”
The Shiraoi Folk Performance Preservation Society performed on September 4 and 5, and the Society’s Chairperson Hasegawa commented, “It was an honor to have been able to perform a dance that has been passed down through the generations locally.”
“Fishery is prosperous in Shiraoi, and many Ainu people are fishers, so stronger calls and crisper dance movements compared to other regions are what define our dances. I want many people to know about these kinds of regional traditions,” Chairperson Hasegawa said enthusiastically.
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