The theater was a quaint basement room with a small stage and enough chairs for about 80-100 people. As the seats filled up, John and I squeezed our way into two seats left of the center. We sat for ten minutes, and then we saw her. A petite-framed woman with large angled eyes, a brilliant smile, in snow-white face powder and a floral patterned kimono.
“Thank you, everyone, for joining us tonight,” she said, “Please enjoy our performance -- The Geisha and The Samurai!”
The audience boomed with applause. All of us eager to see the show. The same woman walked back out onto the stage, this time with another actress wearing the same dress and similar make-up. They conversed with one another in what I assume was comedic banter due to the audience’s roar of laughter. John and I looked to one another awkwardly, not understanding the joke because it was in Japanese. Then, the first kimono-wearing actress spoke in English.
“Before the show, we will teach you a traditional dance.”
Cue the cherry-blossom pink lighting and the thunderous sound of everyone opening their hand-held fans.
The melodic harmony of a Japanese folk song began to play, and the beautiful actresses began to gently move their arms, delicately swaying their fans. John and I shot out our arms in front of us, fans in hand, and attempted to imitate the dancers. The spoken directions were in Japanese -- hence, John and I were struggling.
Upon noticing us, the English-speaking actress beamed at us, a little laugh in her smile. She repeated the instructions in English as the audience practiced the dance a second time. After the last practice round, it was time to show off what we learned. The lights shone bright on the audience.
“Do we have any volunteers?” she called. I knew it was coming. My anxiety crept in. I could feel my palms get slick with sweat. Stage fright.
The actress descended the stage stairs and ambled over to my seat.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi,” I replied with a nervous smile.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
“America,” I answered. She politely nodded.
“Where in Japan have you visited?” she asked.
“Fukuoka, and now Osaka.”
“Wow!” she exclaimed, “Well, will you like to join us on stage?” her bright red lips curled into a smile. I didn’t want to go out of the fear that I’ll mess up their traditional dance, but I didn’t want to ruin their show and say ‘no.’
“O-okay,” I said hesitantly.
Excitedly, the actress turned to the crowd, explaining in Japanese that I will join them on stage. I stood on the stage waiting as they found another audience member to participate. Once the four of us were on stage -- the two actresses, the other participant, and me -- the lights dimmed. The music played. We threw up our arms and danced.
How did I do? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. Click below to watch the video!