Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone receives the 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowship

Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone receives the 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowship

         Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone

June 22, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced that Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone has received the 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, which is the American equivalent to being designated as a living national treasure in Japan. Seventy-nine year-old Ryukyu dance performer, Nakasone, who is from Naha and currently lives in Hawaii, is the founder of the Hoge Ryu Hana Nizi no Kai Nakasone Dance Academy. Nakasone is the second recipient of the fellowship from Okinawa, following on from the late Seisho Harry Nakasone, the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the Nomura Ryu Ongaku Kyokai. She is the first Okinawan to receive the fellowship in 21 years. Nakasone is scheduled to receive her commendation certificate in Washington D.C. on October 4.

The fellowship recognizes folk and traditional artists both for their artistic excellence and for their efforts to conserve American culture for future generations. More than 360 individuals and organizations have received the award since 1982, and while about 200 individuals and organizations all over the United States were nominated this time, only nine received the award.

Nakasone has been honing the techniques of Ryukyuan dance that date back to Ukanshinudoi, which was developed to entertain Chinese envoys during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. She has been involved in Ryukyu dance in Hawaii for more than 50 years and has contributed to the local community by performing at charity shows, performing Ryukyu dance shows more than 1000 times. The NEA acknowledges these achievements by awarding her this fellowship.

Nakasone studied dance under Ryosho Kin, a preeminent figure in Okinawan performing arts. Born in Naha, she began studying dance at the age of six, and steadily refined her technique both before and after the war. After Nakasone got married in 1955, she and her husband moved to Hawaii, where she has worked performing and teaching since 1956.

Nakasone said, “I am really proud of receiving this fellowship.” Among the dances that she learned from Kin, Nakasone feels most attached to Akadafu, a dance created by Kin himself. Nakasone said, “I emphasized expressing the tenderness of women. It is difficult to manage this if you don’t put your heart and soul into the performance.” At the end of June, Nakasone will visit Okinawa and announce the receipt of this award in front of Kin’s tomb.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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