Pagoda kuse video

matsu_header(Editor’s note: below video is the kuse section from Jannette Cheong’s english-language noh Pagoda. This video was shot during the 2011 Asia Tour at the National Noh Theatre, Tokyo.)

Contributed by Tom O’Connor (Pagoda ji-utai member)

The dance, the music, the poetry. Why do I find this short selection so immensely absorbing…? I can’t point to anything that is there. Each element is somehow incomplete on its own. Even together, there remains a space, an emptiness. I step into that emptiness when I listen and watch.

The poetry. The music. And the knife-like precision of Kinue’s dance, cutting through the fog in my brain.


Pagoda is rooted in the story of the author’s grandmother who sent her son away to sea when he was a young boy to avoid the famine that ravaged China’s rural coastline areas in the 1920s. He never returned. After his death in London in the 1970s, Ms. Cheong herself made the journey to China to find her father’s birthplace. Her family’s experiences, at once both tragic and uplifting, are combined with an ancient Chinese legend about a pagoda to form the basis of this piece.

(Video and initial edit courtesy Oshima Nohgakudo, titling/subtitling courtesy Tom O’Connor. Text © 2011 Jannette Cheong, Music © 2011 Richard Emmert. Published 2011. All Rights Reserved.)

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About Theatre Nohgaku

Noh, one of the oldest continuing stage arts, combines highly stylized dance, chant, music, mask and costume with intense inner concentration and physical discipline, creating a uniquely powerful theatrical experience. Theatre Nohgaku’s mission is to share noh’s beauty and power with English speaking audiences and performers. We have found that this traditional form retains its dramatic effectiveness in languages other than Japanese. We believe noh techniques hold a powerful means of expression in the context of contemporary English language theatre.
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2 Responses to Pagoda kuse video

  1. Jean Garren says:

    Thanks, Tom … agreed.

  2. Pingback: When there is No Dog | Theatre Nohgaku Blog

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