Okinawan dance is the traditional dance that has developed in Okinawa prefecture, which includes the southernmost islands of Japan.
Okinawan dance is also called Ryukyu dance or Ryukyu Buyo, since it was originally developed during the Ryukyu Kingdom era, between the 15th and 19th centuries.
There are three basic genres of Ryukyu dance: Classical dance (or Court dance), Zo dance and Folk dance.
dance was developed at the Royal Court during the Ryukyu Kingdom era,
and was performed to entertain Chinese envoys and Japanese clans.
Classical dance movements are generally slow in tempo, with dancers
keeping their feet on or close to the floor at all times, and; wearing
colorful clothing called Ryukyu Bingata.
Zo dance developed in the
local theaters after the Ryukyu Kingdom era ended with the creation of
Okinawa Prefecture in the late 19th century. Zo dancers dress in casual
kimono like those worn by ordinarily people, but Zo dance movements are
much more energetic and fast in tempo.
In learning Okinawan dance,
students get to experience both formal classical and Zo dances, dancing
roles that express love and other aspects of the human condition.
The other type of Okinawan dance is called folk dance. It dates back
to the 600s, and has evolved ever since from the ceremonial arts used by
priestesses to express their appreciation to the gods in the spirit of
Folk dances often incorporate the use of an unusual
type of drum called Eisa [E-i-sa-] – Bon dance (or bon odori), which are
becoming very popular not only Okinawa but throughout Japan.