This Japanese dance was created in Kōchi in 1954, and is a modern version of a traditional summer dance called “Awa-odori”. Many yosakoi teams create music, costume and choreography by themselves, resulting in a variety of individualistic and interesting performances. Parts of old Japanese songs are are often used when composing for yosakoi, the most important one being the official yosakoi dance song, “Yosakoi Naruko Dancing”, created by Takemasa Eisaku.
At bigger festivals and in competitions the dancers are obliged to use a wooden instrument called “Naruko” in order for the dance to be counted as yosakoi. Apart from these wooden clappers, many groups also use fans, flags and other props.
The size of Japanese Yosakoi groups differ largely; from smaller teams of around ten members to larger ones counting as many as 150 members or more. The number of members taking part in a certain performance might also vary greatly depending on the size of the stage, the location and, of course, each member’s own schedule.
The Sendai based team “Zaccu Baran” performing their 2011 team-performance “Kaishoki”
The creation process and the yosakoi style preferred vary from team to team. Some compose and choreograph everything themselves based on a theme chosen by the team, while others hire professionals to do the work. Most larger groups create a new performance every year, often presenting it for the first time on a festival in their home town.
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