Mizuekai 2011


This year's Mizuekai featured five dances in a ninety-five minute performance: "Full of Chrysanthemums," "Wisteria Girl," "Blue Waves," "An Insane Woman," "A Poor Young Apprentice," and "Miyagawa Kouta." My favorites were the second and third dances, "Wisteria Girl" and "Blue Waves."

I think that Miyagawa-cho dances put more of an emphasis on theatricality than tradition, so I find them the most enjoyable and entertaining of all the geisha dances I attend. I see something I have never seen before each year, and I always leave the theater pleasantly surprised.

The dances are also a good source of inspiration for me photographically. For instance, the first dance this year, "Full of Chrysanthemums," had seven maiko dancing with hanagasa (flower hats). Hanagasa are common props for maiko in dances, but these hanagasa were about half the size of traditional hanagasa and featured bright yellow chrysanthemums instead of cherry blossoms and maple leaves as they usually do.

I will be photographing the maiko Tanewaka from Miyagawa-cho in a few weeks, and I have already put in a request for her to bring these chrysanthemum hanagasa to the session. I have already photographed maiko with cherry blossom hanagasa on several occasions, so the bright yellow flowers will be a welcome new twist on an old theme for me.