New York: Hurok Attractions, c.1955. 10 silver gelatin black-and-white prints (8" x 10"), ink stamps to versos. Housed in photo sleeves and binder.
In the years following the post-WWII US occupation of Japan, prominent American cultural figures (James Michener, Joshua Logan, Faubion Bowers) joined with governmental agencies to promote US-Japanese cultural exchange as a means of cementing the alliance in the face of Cold War divisions. The Azuma Kabuki Dancers and Musicians toured the US from 1954-56 as part of that effort, in a series of limited engagements in New York, Washington, DC, and Chicago, and even met with President Eisenhower. Azuma Kabuki was not, strictly speaking, a kabuki company, as it featured female performers (despite kabuki's 17th-century origins as a vehicle primarily for female performers, many of them prostitutes, the form early on became male-only), and notably included no actual kabuki actors. The company's specialty, rather, was a sequence of classical dance performances, some drawn from the traditional kabuki repertory, others original, without any spoken historical or domestic drama – what one commentator has described as "one-third kabuki." Nevertheless, the tour was a major event, receiving national coverage, and comprised the first significant exposure of "kabuki style" dance to an American audience. The ten publicity photos show scenes from several pieces (three are titled on the verso: " ch ," or Ancient Court Days, "Tsuchigumo," or Spider Dance, and "Setsu-Getsu-Ka," or Snow, Moon, Flowers), the musicians of the troupe, and the two lead performers: Azuma Tokuho, a classical dancer from a prominent kabuki family who founded the company, as well as her own dance school, in reaction to the stricture against professional female kabuki performers, and her husband Masaya Fujima, the company's principal choreographer. Thornbury, Kabuki In New York, 1975. Company and publicity ink stamps to all versos, four photos with penciled titles to versos, one with typed slip cello-taped to verso, three others with cello-tape residue. Occasional edgewear, else fine. Item #508