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Shosagoto

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  • Other Names: 振事 (furigoto)
  • Japanese: 所作事 (shosagoto)

Shosagoto, also known as furigoto, are a particularly type of kabuki dance-drama, performed either as a stand-alone piece or as a scene within a larger play. They include many of the most famous and climatic dance scenes in kabuki, and most often feature a single onnagata, though some dances are performed by a male character instead.

Emphasizing the aesthetic beauty of the dance, costumes, and set pieces, and on the actor's skill and technique, and stylized movement or gestures (shosa or furi), shosagoto contain minimal or no narrative dialogue. Shosagoto are also set apart from most types of kabuki scenes in that musicians are seated onstage, rather than being hidden behind a latticed screen (geza or kuromisu); off-stage musicians, or those behind the kuromisu, play as well during a shosagoto dance scene, adding to the music performed by those visible onstage.

Shosagoto first coalesced into a distinctive form in the Genroku period (1688-1704); it continued to evolve over the course of the 18th century, with nagauta music becoming the standard genre of music accompanying the dances. The form was pioneered by Segawa Kikunojô I, who specialized in Dôjôji and Shakkyô dances; Musume Dôjôji, one of the earliest extant nagauta dances, was debuted in 1753. The nearly one hour long dance piece was adapted from the Noh play Dôjôji. The shosagoto form was further developed by Nakamura Tomijûrô I, who combined all the previously-performed Dôjôji adaptations into a single dance piece, called Kyôganoko musume dôjôji.

Shosagoto were originally danced exclusively by onnagata playing female roles. However, by the 1780s, shosagoto danced by male characters began to emerge, in conjunction with the development of the tokiwazu and tomimoto musical genres, which were then applied to the dance pieces. Around that same time, actors such as Nakamura Utaemon III and Bandô Mitsugorô III pioneered a dance form called henge-buyô (lit. "transformation dance") in which a single actor transforms into a series of different roles as he moves through a series of consecutive dances of related themes, such as the four seasons or famous historical poets. These henge-buyô pieces often shift between multiple different musical genres as they move from one character to another. Shosagoto continued to grow and develop in the 19th century.

References

  • "Development of Shosagoto." Invitation to Kabuki. Japan Arts Council, 2007.
  • McQueen Tokita, Alison. "Music in kabuki: more than meets the eye." The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2008. pp237, 244.
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