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[ Dream of Takarazuka table of contents ]

Chapter 37 ~*~ Unexpectedly Crawling on My Belly

When I was a small child I had a delicate constitution, like in those paintings of poor health, but entering Takarazuka forged my body into something tougher and more robust, in a sort of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

However, in the end, this powerful Takarasienne Ōura got into an awkward situation which suspended me from performing.

For ten years I boasted that I never missed a day of rehearsal or performance, but then I got an "injured meniscus"--an occupational disease of athletes and dancers, a knee injury.

The main cause, it seems, was long years of overuse causing my knee to overheat.

Meaning that up until now when the dancer keeps dancing to the point of collapse it seemed cool, but the circumstances of my knee actually giving out were unattractive.

It was in Tokyo, in the middle of a two-show performance of a musical set in Russia and a revue show with tough dancing.¹

We often goofed around, pushing the back of someone's knee with our own knee, causing them to stumble.

And then, suddenly, in the middle of the dance I jerked and stumbled like that all on my own.

I suddenly must have seemed weak in the knees and must have presented a strange sight to those watching and wondering "What is Ōura-san up to?" as I constantly jerked around.

I thought it was strange, but nothing hurt or itched, so I let it be.

(Later I looked it up and this is a typical early warning sign of an injured meniscus, so beware!)

* * *

This strange jerky dancing continued for about a week, then one day I was on stage dancing a Cossack dance.

It was the point where we were doing a typical pattern of a Cossack dance where you are crouched on one foot, the other bending and spinning around it and both arms held still.

There in front of a full house, in the middle of the stage, right under the spotlight, I fell flat onto my face in an ungainly sprawl.

Before I knew what had happened, I was crawling on my belly on stage.

It's not like someone tells you: "Seems like you slipped!" when you generally fall over. Or, if you could predict it, it's not like someone would choose to throw themselves down onto the middle of the stage.

But, there must have been something that caused me to fall to the floor, something I slipped or stumbled over?

But in that moment there wasn't time to figure out what had happened to me, because I was lying on the stage and that state of affairs needed to be fixed.

A mistake on stage or a fall is not something to be embarrassed about.

From where we were crouched on the stage the audience likely wouldn't even have noticed, so it was nothing to be embarrassed about.

Usually I crossed the Silver Bridge after the dance, but instead I was pulled into the wings and beneath my thick stage makeup my face was bright red.

* * *

In the dressing room my stomach felt like water and I bowed to everyone I had been dancing with and apologized and vowed that it wouldn't happen again.

Despite all this, three days later the same thing was still happening.

* * *

Feeling remorseful, I decided this was a result of insufficient practice, and so I attempted to put on my practice clothes and rehearse some more.

I went to crouch and found that my knee wouldn't bend.

A glance at my knee showed that it was as blue and fat as sumo wrestler Konishiki.

Did I eat too much and get fat, I wondered? But as soon as I got that dumb thought out of my head and compared it to my other knee I could see that the outline of the other was plainly clear to see and slim.

I hadn't sprained it. I, who was so proud of never injuring myself, just couldn't comprehend this bloated knee.

"You've got water gathering in your knee," a friend told me, and I started to grasp the situation.

I was injured.

And my knee was so swollen that it wouldn't bend.

And although I had eaten the boards how many times over the past few days, it was someone else who first recognized the injury, even after three days! What an idiot.

(1) "The White Horizon" / "The Beat of Rhapsody" (1987)
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[ Dream of Takarazuka table of contents ]

36 ~*~ Takarasienne

There is valuable data about Takarasienne, that they lose three kilograms of weight and one centimeter of height over the course of a three-hour performance.

I can confirm this as true, as I gave myself a check-up in the morning and at the end of the performance and compared the results.

What I'm trying to say is that our job is hard and physically laborious.

* * *

If I were making a list of how hard it is, I'd start with the costumes.

The motto of Takarazuka theater is gorgeous and beautiful.

The higher an upperclassman you are, the higher the star, the more decorations you wear and the more splendid the costume.

But, it's heavy.

If you're unlucky, there may come a time when you have to wear a costume that's close to ten kilograms.

I'm happy to have a chance to wear pretty costumes, but the heavier they are the hotter they are to wear, and then of course it's really difficult to sing, act, and even dance in them. And I know now that as much as we all say we want to wear the splendid costumes, sometimes we just want to wear the plain, softly spinning costumes.

* * *

Next, the torture of feathers.

"I'm sorry, all you birds!" I can't help but think, with all that weight of feathers on my back.

I was so joyful and so glad the first time I wore the finale costume with gorgeous feathers, like a real star.

But I was shocked by the weight on my back.

I'm not sure how many, a hundred, two hundred or more, that heavy.

And it's not just the weight, but when you walk there's wind resistance, so that it feels like you're walking into a stiff breeze as you walk across the stage.

Just like Dorothy could walk in the twister using the magic of Oz, I guess I've gotten used to walking with the weight of the feathers on my back.

* * *

To continue, I'll explain a bit about quick changes.

You run off into the wing of the stage, change your costume, wipe off your sweat, fix your hair, and run back out onto stage.

When you have one, two minutes to do this, it's a quick change.

My fastest record right now is 25 seconds.

When you have a show with a succession of quick changes, being on stage is a bit of a breather.

And then when a bunch of people are doing a quick change at once, it's rough!

Suddenly you realize that the orchestra is moving on and there's no one on stage.

But that all happens during rehearsals so that when it's the real performance, this is not a sight that the audience sees.

Sometimes one person will come on stage without their hat, or someone is wearing the wrong color shoes, and the quick change location in the wing descends into mayhem.

When someone puts on the wrong costume by mistake, even if the fit isn't quite right that means they have to quickly change and get out on stage.

During a quick change there isn't time to fix a mistaken costume. Quick change, quick change, whoosh, whoosh, and then the show is over! ... is what it feels like. The battle isn't just on the stage. In a Takarazuka show, the stage and the wings are both the battlefield, fifty/fifty.

And the pièce de résistance, the origin of our hard labor, is the singing and dancing.

You might say, "Well, isn't that the job?" And that's true, but if you came out and performed in just half of one of the hour-long revue shows then you would learn the exhaustion for yourself.

It's different from an idol going on TV and dancing along to a dubbed tape of themselves singing.

It's not humming along while doing the housework.

It's singing live along with an orchestra, and dancing.

Singing while dancing, or singing just after you've been dancing is a really hard feat.

Fighting for breath, covered in sweat, and yet continuing to smile; you can't show how much you feel like crying.

* * *

If you can persist through all of this to the end, if you've digested all of this that makes up a performance, well, I'm sorry, but that's the world it is.

In the times before the curtain rises and after it falls, the magazine and newspaper articles, the radio and TV spots, our other appearances, the Bow Hall and tour rehearsals, all of it.... It's doing our job.

I comfort myself that I'm at my best on the job, and want to show myself not resting, but working.

It may seem redundant, but I think that complaining just leads to trouble and more complaints. In half a month I have a Bow Hall, then rehearsals for a Japanese dance performance, then ten days of rehearsals for a dinner show, the ten days after that rehearsals for a dance performance, and various other jobs so that dawn to dusk it continues, and I perform.

I'm busy enough that I wish there were three or four more of me.

And in spite of all of this, here I am heroically putting pen to paper....

I'm at my best on the job. Yes.

* * *

When jobs pile up, you get so busy there's no time to be ill. The powerful Takarasienne will go on, and the show will go on, no matter how the wheel turns, or the rain falls, or the spears fall.

And there isn't a single Takarasienne out there with merely average stamina.
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Round Table: Moon Troupe Bow Hall Performance "Anna Karenina"
(From January 2019 KAGEKI)

Members: (playwright/director) Ueda Keiko, (Moon Troupe) Miya Rurika, Umino Mitsuki, Tsukishiro Kanato

Ueda: "Anna Karenina" was a 2001 Bow Hall show written for Asami Hikaru, and was designed to be a classic Takarazuka love romance. The musical adaption of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" centers on forbidden love, and included plenty of showcases for dancing. In 2008 we had the opportunity to re-stage it as a Star Troupe Bow Hall workshop, for the 30th anniversary of Bow Hall. In that production Miya-chan played Karenin, and now that time has passed I'm sure everyone wants to see the vehicle for her to star as Vronsky! (laughs)

All: (laughs)

Ueda: I've long thought that the expressiveness of Miya-chan's dancing is magnetic. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Miya-chan as a dancer brings that magnetism to life at this point in her career. And moreover I'm anticipating how she'll make the story her own and how the show will carry away the audience's hearts.

Miya: I really loved that first production of "Anna." I saw it as a yokasei¹ and fell in deep, and after that I spent all my days off watching "Anna" on video (laughs). Then, when I was in Star Troupe and it was decided to put it on again I was overjoyed, and there were auditions. At the time I was still figuring out what it meant to be a Takarazuka otokoyaku, so I was happy for the opportunity to see each iteration.... Karenin was a turning point for me in my studies, since the role was so central to the story and so profound. I believe that the otokoyaku I am today is because of that role. This time I'm happy to face Karenin (and the show) as Vronsky, and I'm so moved and grateful!

Ueda: Rehearsals have only just started, but how are things going?

Miya: It's tougher than the time I played Karenin, and I can't believe how tortured Vronsky is! (laughs) His love for Anna characterizes everything he does, and it continues to take over the meaning of his life, for which he pays an enormous price. But to have that joy and that emptiness side by side...?

Ueda: To others, Vronsky seems like the man who has everything, but the truth and the love that he is really searching for elude him, and he is unsatisfied. He and Anna are alike in how they tempestuously press on in their search for true love.

Miya/Umino: Yes.

Miya: The new theme song that you wrote for this performance really conveys that love is what brings meaning to people's lives.

Ueda: Miya-chan, I feel that you are an actress who can portray your own love and thoughts very clearly. I can see that you are someone who creates a role carefully, to be true to the feelings that the role was born from, and I look forward to seeing the Vronsky that you bring to life in rehearsals.

Umino: The first Bow Hall show that I ever saw was Star Troupe's "Anna," and I saw Miya-san's Karenin from the first row.

Miya: What!?

Umino: Just hearing that Miya-san had the lead role this time was enough to get me excited. Anna's meeting with Vronsky is when she falls in love with him and the beginning of her downfall, but it's moving because to Anna this meeting is a truly happy moment. I'd like to create a deep role that holds true to Anna's roots.

Ueda: I think the role of Anna is a very straightforward woman who has to live true to her heart, and a part of whom just can't be sensible. Umi-chan, when you're acting you overflow with emotions, which is splendid in an actress. You also can look at things from different angles, and let things hit your heart, so I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of Anna you create.

Miya: In "Azure Moment,"² Umi-chan and I were friends more than lovers, so to speak such straightforward words of love to each other and to interact with each other in this way is very fresh and new. Right now I don't want us reasoning things through too much, but rather coming together with the feelings of those searching for love. I want us both looking together.

Umino: Yes.

Ueda: What do you think, Tsukishiro-san?

Tsukishiro: Lately I've been realizing over and over how hard re-stagings really are, and particularly this time when it's a role Miya-san has so much emotional attachment to, I know I have to be doing it right! (laughs)

All: (laughs)

Tsukishiro: But right from the start when we were shooting the poster, I could feel that Miya-san wanted me to make my own version of Karenin, and I felt a fresh sense that this would be a time to soar. At first glance Karenin seems someone to be pitied and little more, but then you see how awkward he is towards those he loves. And then when the things boiling in his heart escape, you see how much he keeps locked away. But I think it is those things that Karenin conceals that are precious to him, which is what I hope to convey. It's difficult....

Ueda: Karenin won't admit his feelings of jealousy towards Vronsky, but while he continues his married life with Anna I feel there is a lot that he doesn't notice. From Anna and Vronsky's meeting, what will that bring to each of their lives...? I hope to leave the audience with the impression that people live in order to feel love. Umi-chan, I also wonder how your relationship with Tsukishiro-san that started with "The Last Party"³ will influence this performance? It is something that reassures me.

Miya: I was also an underclassman when I played Karenin, so there was a part of me that thought to be just like Kashige-san (Takashiro Kei)4. But I feel that Reiko (Tsukishiro) is working to find her own version of Karenin.

Tsukishiro: Yes, I'm trying. I was paired with Umi-chan in "The Last," so luckily we could bump along easily as a married couple right from the start.

Umino: I think this work is a real turning point for me. I hope to have true sparks fly between Anna's straightforward heart and Karenin.

Ueda: The finale this time is similar to the Snow Troupe version, and the duet dance is a new one choreographed by Ōishi Haruka-san.

Miya: I'm really looking forward to it.

Ueda: For this re-staging I thought about how I could update the visual aspects. The visuals for the poster that you were just talking about too....

Miya: Yes. In Takarazuka there are a lot of gentlemen in uniform with a Regent hairstyle, so we added the rarer wavy-style hair to the front.

Ueda: I think it looks great.

Miya: It's a wig, but there are those who think it's my real hair (laughs).

All: (laugh)

Tsukishiro: Just by looking at the poster I can feel that this will be a new "Anna." The members want to portray the depths of the human heart.

Umino: I'm so happy to be in a production with such a focal love theme. I will try to portray the emotional struggles of such an honest heart.

Miya: I think it truly is a joy to portray love, this all-important human foundation. When I think on love, I reflect that my own life has been made richer from it. All kinds of love are what make the world work, and among them perhaps the most simple is love of another human being--This is what I feel this role portrays, and what I look forward to showing the audience.

Ueda: I think that as a Takarazuka work, the lovely visuals and magnetism of the love scenes will appeal to the audience. But, more than anything, it is Vronsky and Anna's love for each other, more than the consequences they must pay and the misery, the most important thing is their meeting and love for each other, and it is the wonder and light of that love that I want this work to leave in the hearts of the audience.

(1) yokasei = first year Takarazuka Music School student
(2) "Azure Moment" = 2017 Drama City show starring Miya Rurika, Umino Mitsuki, and Tsukishiro Kanato
(3) "The Last Party" = 2018 Drama City show starring Tsukishiro Kanato and Umino Mitsuki as the tempestuously married F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.
(4) Takashiro Kei played Karenin in the 2001 version

For Sale

Sep. 3rd, 2018 02:31 pm
ekusudei: (Masaki Jump!)
It's time. I need to clear out some space and I need some extra $. So... even if it's like killing myself slowly.... Time for someone else to love these darlings.

If you're interested in more than one, I can knock some off the total. Let me know and I'll give you a quote.

Shipping is not included in the cost, and will depend on how you'd like me to send them, etc. I can give you a total quote once you tell me where it's going and if you'd like a box or if an envelope is fine, etc.

You can drop a note in the comments below, or pm me here on dreamwidth or over on Tumblr @caithion.


Too Short a Time to Fall in Love / Heat on Beat! (Moon 2012) $70
Classic Takarazuka Dance / A Guide to the Future / Takarazuka Flower Poems 100 (Moon 2014) $85

Dragon Night!! (Moon 2015) $70
The Rose of Versailles -Oscar and Andre- (Sou Kazuho Andre) (Moon 2013) $50
The Rose of Versailles -Oscar and Andre- (Ranju Tomu Andre) (Moon 2013) $50 SOLD

Takarazuka Revue mooks

(These include the making of DVD)
Takarazuka Revue 2009 $12
Takarazuka Revue 2010 $12
Takarazuka Revue 2012 $15

Photo Books

Ozuki Tooma My Style $14 ON HOLD
Misuzu Aki My Style $14 ON HOLD

Daichi Mao $14
Mao Karei naru Sekai (Daichi Mao) $14

Amami Yuuki Sayonara Photo Book $14

Kuze Seika Sayonara Photo Book $14
Sanctuary (Kuze Seika) $14

Asaji Saki fanclub sayonara photo album $16
Asaji Saki Takarazuka Fantasy (magazine) $8

Asaji Saki On-Off sayonara photo book $16

A Good Fellow -Kozuki Wataru in N.Y.- $18 SOLD
Kouju Tatsuki Mani $16
ekusudei: (Default)
Hahaha, so I though: Y'know, it's been a few months since I typed out a chapter of Oura-san's book. ... Try three years. Oops.

[ Dream of Takarazuka table of contents ]

30 ~*~ The Windfall (?) of Nibante )
ekusudei: (Default)

As some of you may have heard, the actresses Mariho Erina, Shiho Nanami, Ayaka Rei, and Tama Mayura, as well as their manager, had some unexpected trouble when they came to the US to give a nonprofit performance of "World of Dreams" in Seattle last weekend. Because of a mix-up, they ended up each having to pay a hefty fine to be allowed in in time for the concert and were stuck in customs for a long time.

Despite that, they were unfailingly cheerful and polite to fans, and gave an amazing performance.

As fans, we really, really, REALLY don't want this experience to sour Takarazuka OG actresses on performing abroad! So after the performance we put our heads together and discussed what we could do, and we decided to raise some fan donations to at least help defer some of the cost of the fines they were forced to pay.

Every 3-4 years when I ask for donations to help keep the TakaWiki going, the fan generosity is always staggering. I am hoping that as fans we can be similarly generous for these OGs.

Donations collected here will go into the TakaWiki PayPal account, but I will earmark them and send them to Sakiko, the show's producer, who will make sure they get back to the actresses. This is an unofficial, fan crowdfunding event, and will only run from now until December 23rd, 2017. On that weekend I will take down the button and send the money on.

If you can't afford to donate, please pass on word through your various social media accounts. But please consider tossing in $2-5. Every bit will help!

Thank you, everyone, for your time and generosity!


ekusudei: (Default)
Could someone with the 100th Anniversary actress book please tell me what they list the reading of 23期 (23rd class) 嵯野 久子 name pronunciation as? I've always read it as "Sano," but Japanese Wikipedia has it listed as "Sono" with the source as the 100th anniversary book. I'm still wondering if it's a typo, because I can't find any examples of 嵯 being pronounced as "so."
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Oookay. Please read the summaries of "Xango" and "Pop News."

What do you think?

"Xango" I kind of expected, with the title being an African deity.

"Pop News," um, not what I was expecting when trying to do something to cheer myself up from the horror show that was "The Exterminating Angel." I wonder what Paddy Stone thought of it?
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Something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I’m just getting started, but I’m starting to go cross-eyed from editing all the photos, so I think I’m going to leave it be for a couple of weeks and focus on something else.

Sad to realize how much I had to sell before I left Japan. And starting to suspect I lost more than I knew from that one box that broke open on the way back over. T_T

Takarazuka Revue Book & Magazine Collection
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Could someone with the 100th anniversary actress book look up 小田野巻子 of the 21st class for me? Everywhere I look on the internet the reading for her name is written おのだ, but that can’t be right. I’m guessing everyone is propagating a mistake. It must be おだの……
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I found this English-language pamphlet on e-bay for $8, being sold by someone from Portland, OR, and it's awesome! No publishing date on it, but it mentions activities up to 1956, and includes photos of "The Tale of Genji" (1957), so my bet is that it was published around '59 to sell during the US Tour. It definitely looks like an official publication, with info on Hankyu and phone numbers if you're interested in booking a vacation to Japan.

The Story of Takarazuka (101 MB zip file)

Sorry they're not clean scans, but ye olde scanner doesn't work with my new operating system, so photos it is.


Jun. 30th, 2017 03:43 pm
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... I feel as though my IQ has shrunk just reading this summary.

First of all, oh my god.

Second of all, not even a bit subtle. Takarazuka otokoyaku, hide your sons and daughters.

Show Tent Takarazuka
BADDY -He Came from the Moon-
Script/Direction Ueda Kumiko

The setting is Earth metropolis TAKARAUKA-CITY. On a unified and peaceful planet called "Earth," where war and crime has been suppressed, a wanderer from the moon, a real "Baddy," arrives. Baddy is a too cool and elegant heavy smoker. However, all of the planet is a smoke-free zone. Hating restriction, Baddy leads a group of henchmen to do all kinds of evil things to make this boring planet more interesting. His ultimate goal is to steal the planetary savings from the Takarazuka Big Theater Bank. But the omnipotent female police investigator Goody is in pursuit, and in the end she'll track him down!

This is Ueda Kumiko's first revue show.


作・演出/上田 久美子


(Official Site)


Jun. 30th, 2017 02:40 pm
ekusudei: (Default)
Random thing that I learned today that I never connected the dots on: Koike Shuuichirou, Ishida Masaya, and Tani Masazumi all had their debut Bow Hall work in 1986. They must have been hired around the same time.
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Going to post this here because it's not official TIP stuff yet.

So, remember 5 or so years ago when I said I was going to subtitle the Back Stage series and then never did? Yes, well, I've decided this will be the summer that actually gets done. I'll be releasing one episode a week (if I can keep up the pace). They're going up online temporarily, mostly as a prod to remind myself to keep going. Once they're all done, they'll be gathered together into a TIP disc.

Much thanks to Sakiko for helping me with some. All mistakes are mine, and I'll be the first to admit these are pretty rough.

I kind of want to skip down to ep 4, which is the coolest. But, no. In order, in order....

The Back Stage was a short, 15 minute show which aired on Sky Stage in 2012. Each episode featured various aspects of stagecraft for Takarazuka shows in 2011-2012.

The Back Stage #1: Set / Large Props
The Back Stage #2: Stage Manager & Set
The Back Stage #3: Lighting & Electricity
The Back Stage #4: Stage Mechanisms
The Back Stage #5: Dinner Shows
The Back Stage #6: Costumes
The Back Stage #7: Music / Orchestra
The Back Stage #8: Props
The Back Stage #9: Takarazuka Bow Hall
The Back Stage #10: Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (part 1)
The Back Stage #11: Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (part 2)

The website for Takarazuka Stage (crew) has the episodes posted, without translation, for anyone too impatient to wait for subtitles [link].
ekusudei: (Default)
Wow, okay, weird to not be using semagic to post, but I guess I'll get used to it. Deleted my old lj account, so this is officially the home of my Takarazuka journal/archive of old reviews and translations and things. Image links may be broken.
ekusudei: (Default)
ETA: We did it! We raised $873! Thank you so much for your generosity, everyone!

Ahahahaha. So, not so funny story. Today I received an email from the TakaWiki webhost saying that my card had been declined to pay for this month’s hosting fees. Somehow I had lost track of time and two years had gone by since our last fundraiser. Yup, that’s right, we currently have $0.46 left in our TakaWiki hosting coffers. Sadly, we had to upgrade our hosting from $15-ish/mo to $30/mo because of how big the database has grown, so the money didn’t last as long as hoped.

SO! We need to raise some money. If we can raise $720, we’ll have the next two (2) years worth of fees all set to go. ($30/mo x 24 mo = $720)

So this is my urgent plea for everyone who uses the TakaWiki to please think about dropping a few dollars into the coffers. The English-language Takarazuka fandom has always been extremely generous; it’s the only way we’ve kept the TakaWiki up and running for 10+ years. Even if money is tight and there’s no way you can contribute, please pass on the word over various social media.

I’ll take down the page once we meet our goal.

Thank you all! -Jen (Feb. 14th, 2017)



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