Spotlight on Azama Honryu Seifu Ichisen Kai USA Kinuko Mototake Okinawan Dance Academy

To the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival patron that introduced us to Azama Honryu Seifu Ichisen Kai USA Kinuko Mototake Okinawan Dance Academy: THANK YOU! Without you, we wouldn’t have connected with Artistic Director, Kinuko Mototake. When we asked Kinuko what inspired her group to join the Festival for the first time, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that a client who frequents her beauty salon showed her a program book from our 2013 Festival and encouraged her to audition. Now that they’re part of the family, let’s get acquainted!

Creating beauty is a skill that Kinuko (and her fellow dancers) know well, especially as a professional stylist and owner of Kinuko’s Beauty Creation salon in Alameda. Here’s what she had to say about getting ready for the stage:

“Make-up and hair takes over an hour per person. The intense white color in Okinawan make-up and the subtle reddish pinkness on the upper part of the face are achieved by layers and layers of make-up.  The layering of white, cream, red, and pink creates depth on our faces.  Eyebrows and eyes are also done the same way by layering red, gray, and black.”

Welcoming you with “Yotsudake”- “Yotsudake” is a classical Okinawan dance dating back to the 1400s in which Okinawan noblemen performed for Chinese envoys upon their arrival. Their movements mimic the swaying of flowers in the ocean breeze and signify how happy they are to see their guests.

These artists know what they’re doing. Since learning the choreography to “Yotsudake” fifteen years ago, Kinuko continues to teach her students the same moves, step-by-step. The steady, graceful tempo that characterizes “Yotsudake” takes A LOT of training and discipline. Dancers express joy with subtle micro-movements from head to toe, and even their fingertips. “We maintain our focus by synchronizing our movements with the music,” said Kinuko.

Feel the warm welcome of “Yotsudake” by Azama Honryu Seifu Ichisen Kai USA Kinuko Mototake Okinawan Dance Academy during Weekend 3 of the 2014 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival:

When: Saturday, June 21, 2pm & 8pm and Sunday, June 22, 2pm

Where: YBCA Theater

See the complete Festival line-up at

Grab your tickets today at

This post was written by Lauren Reyes, proud intern at World Arts West.

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