About Us . . .
IchiFuji-kai Dance Association was founded in 1961 by Fujima Nishiki (Miyoko Watanabe).
While starring with the Shojo Kabuki troupe on the West Coast, she was invited by Shochiku to study in Japan. Studying all aspects of Kabuki Theatre in Japan for 10 years, she earned several professional names, including the dance name Fujima Nishiki from the Grandmaster of the Soke Fujima style and National Living Treasure, Fujima Kanjuro VI. The word Nishiki means “to return home with honor” and that is exactly what she did. Fujima Nishiki returned to the US with the Grand Kabuki tour, and in 1961, decided to settle in New York City, where IchiFuji-kai was founded and is now based.
Fujima Nishiki opened her dance classes to everyone – Japanese and non-Japanese alike. Many of her first students were non-Japanese. Her aim was to make studying Japanese classical dance accessible and affordable for everyone, and it was from this openness that IchiFuji-kai grew to become a multi-cultural dance organization. In addition, she developed a way of presenting classical Japanese dance together with commentary, to make it understandable to everyone. This is a tradition IchiFuji-kai continues to the present day.
In Japanese classical dance, the dancer interprets the poetry being sung rather than dancing to musical melodies alone. For instance, if the song says, “It was a very hot day,” the dancer might fan herself to show how hot it is, or if the words refer to a gentle breeze, the dancer’s movements could illustrate the breeze itself. Dancers can also move or stamp rhythmically to the music, and most often use a fan to aid in interpreting the poetry by representing many things or illustrating many moods
Men and women who study Japanese classical dance, study both male and female styles. Male style is very open, with all the energy directed outward -- the feet are turned out, and the elbows are held out and away from the body for an impression of masculinity and strength. Female style is just the opposite -- the feet are turned slightly inward with the knees held close together, the arms carried closer to the body, and the movements are smaller and softer, creating an intensely feminine impression.
The elegant Soke Fujima style is a theatrical dance style and one of the major styles still being performed in the Kabuki theatre today. It is a classical art rather than a folk art. IchiFuji-kai is the only organization on the East coast presenting purely classical Japanese dance, both old favorites and new choreography, and the only organization capable of presenting programs featuring full costume.
In 2001, Fujima Nishiki, was honored with the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Award (Gaimudaijin-sho) for her great service, and she retired shortly thereafter. Since Fujima Nishiki’s retirement, the organization is now directly under the Grandmaster of the Soke Fujima style, Fujima Kanjuro VIIIth.
IchiFuji-kai Dance Association, Ltd. is a New York state not-for-profit corporation.