May 19, 2019 (Sunday)
James R. Armstrong Theatre (Map)
3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, California 90501
Program at 2 p.m., doors at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 each
General admission (first come, first served)
On Sunday, May 19th, 2:00 p.m., the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will bring the sights, sounds, and spirit of the Ryūkyū Islands to the James R. Armstrong Theatre in Torrance, CA. Titled “Utayabira, Wuduyabira” – which means “let’s sing, let’s dance” in Uchinaaguchi (the native Okinawan language) – this biennial concert is one of the only recurring events in Los Angeles that focuses on the performing arts of Okinawa.
This is also one of the rare opportunities in Los Angeles to see Ryūkyūan performing arts in a theatre setting. The opening numbers are set against a grand image of Shuri Castle – the central headquarters of the former Ryūkyū Kingdom – while other performances utilize the theatre’s beautiful lighting and backdrops. The dancers will be in full makeup and wardrobe and musicians will don their finest kimono (traditional garment).
The central instruments will be the sanshin, kutu, and deeku. The sanshin (“shamisen” in Japanese) is a 3-stringed lute that is commonly recognized for its snakeskin covering. The kutu (“koto” in Japanese) is a 13-stringed zither known for its harp-like sound. The deeku (“taiko” in Japanese) are drums used in various styles of music, from classical and folk performances to the dynamic modern dances of the Ryūkyūkoku Matsuri Daiko group. The rustic sounds of these ancient instruments along with the dancers’ resplendent costumes perfectly capture the essence of Okinawa’s scenery: its lush forests, vast farmlands, and gorgeous blue waters.
The majority of the songs are written and sung in the native Okinawan language, Uchinaaguchi. The six Ryūkyūan languages were designated as “definitely” and “severely” endangered by UNESCO. While the majority of native speakers in Okinawa are seniors, there are language revitalization efforts by young people in and outside of Okinawa.
“Utayabira, Wuduyabira” is organized by the OAA’s Geinō-bu (Performing Arts Committee), a group that was formed by Okinawan immigrants who wished to perpetuate the traditional performing arts for future generations. Even though Okinawan performances in Los Angeles date back to the early 1900s, the official group was formed in 1987 and united over 20 groups and schools at the time.
The James R. Armstrong Theatre is located at 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503. Doors open at 1:30. Tickets (general admission) are $20 each and can be purchased through performers or at OAA office (weekdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.): 16500 S. Western Ave., Ste. 203, Gardena, CA 90247. Payment can also be mailed to the OAA office; please include a self-addressed stamped envelope or indicate that you would like to pick up your ticket(s) at will call. Any remaining tickets will also be sold at the door from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, please contact the OAA office: email@example.com, (310) 532-1929.
The Okinawa Association of America, Inc. (OAA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Okinawan culture in the greater Los Angeles area. Formed by Okinawan immigrants (issei) 110 years ago, the OAA has grown into a multi-generational organization hosting numerous events throughout the year including cultural lectures, performances, social gatherings, and senior-focused activities. Join us as we celebrate OAA’s SuperCentennial! For updates about SuperCentennial events including the September 1st concert by the Okinawa’s renowned band, Begin (ビギン), please visit oaamensore.org or facebook.com/oaamensore.