I want to share my experience (til now limited to videos) with this wonderful "onnagata" performer, Tamasaburo, considered an artistic jewel in Japan, showing his dance performance of "Sago Musume" (坂東玉三郎), a Kabuki Theatre piece. These three videos are not mine, of course, they are part of one of Tamasaburo's admirer’s collection posted in Youtube (tiffenakou).
The first time I saw him (and every time afterwards) I had the same impression of beauty, perfection and quality I had when I first saw Kazuo Ono, one of the creators of Butoh dance, who has left a mark in my memory forever and who, now along with Tamasaburo, has become a reference point for what I consider the highest artistic level for a dramatic scene.
I’ve seen Kabuki on a few occasions, but I’ve never been as impressed as with Tamasaburo’s work on stage (yes, even having only seen his work on video); I can recognise the beauty and developed technique of the onnagata actors I’ve seen, but there is a latent difference between the idea of the sublime in art and the idea of a highly developed technique.
Kabuki itself, or Japanese theatre in general, may or may not be to your personal liking, but what I’m talking about is projection, capacity and talent, energy, presence and mastery.
In a couple of weeks I’ll get to see two Kabuki Theatre pieces in Beijing; the shows are advertised with the presence of an onnagata actor (whose name I don't know yet) who’s considered a living treasure of Japan. I’m impatiently waiting for the performance. It will be practically impossible to take video at the performance because of the theatre’s regulations, but I’ll share my experience through words.
Tamasaburo "Sagi Musume" 坂東玉三郎
Tamasaburo: video I "Sagi Musume" 坂東玉三郎
Tamasaburo: video II "Sagi Musume" 坂東玉三郎
Tamasaburo: video III "Sagi Musume" 坂東玉三郎
Tamasaburo’s official website is: http://tamasaburo.org