Wakana Hanayagi

Japanese Nihon Buyo

Nihon Buyo, a form of Japanese classical dance that is performed in the Kabuki Theater, is an art form that has been passed on, refined, and cherished for generations.  It requires years of training and studying under a qualified master artist.  Wakana Hanayagi is a leading instructor of Japanese dance, with over 60 years experience as a professional dancer.

Says Wakana, “I was first introduced to Japanese classical dance as a child.  Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that I was born into it.  My mother was a teacher of Nagauta, a type of Japanese classical music which is oftentimes used as accompaniment for dance.  Dancers and msuicians alike would come in and out of our house daily, so it was only natural that my sister and I begin training in dance while we were in elementary school.”

In 2002, Wakana was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Erika Wada.  Their apprenticeship focused on preparing Erika for the Natori examination for professional dancer status, which is administered in Japan.  Erika passed the exam on July 3, 2002, when she performed for the Grand Master, Jusuke Hanayagi III, excerpts from two dances that she had been preparing as part of her apprenticeship with Wakana.

Of working with Wakana, Erika says, “The moment I saw Mme. Wakana Hanayagi perform, I knew that I wanted to study dance with her.  She is not just a dancer — she is an artist.  Each movement, each step serves a purpose.  There is no such thing as ‘excess’ in her dancing.”


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