‘Utayabira Wuduyabira’ at Armstrong Theatre

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Photo by Stuart Yamashiro

TORRANCE — On Sunday, May 7, at 2 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, 3330 Civic Center Dr. in Torrance.

Titled “Utayabira Wuduyabira” – which means “let’s sing, let’s dance” in Uchinaaguchi (the Okinawan language) – this biennial concert is one of the only recurring events in Los Angeles that focuses on the performing arts of Okinawa.

This event commemorates the 30th anniversary of the OAA’s Geinobu (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 Geinobu was officially formed in 1987 and united over 20 groups and schools.

In addition to traditional celebratory numbers, the concert explores the significance of land and sea in the daily lives of Okinawans. The rustic sounds of the traditional instruments and the dancer’s resplendent costumes perfectly capture the essence of Okinawa’s scenery — its lush forests, its vast farmlands, and of course its gorgeous blue waters.

A number of special performances have been planned for this celebration. Local instructors will debut original choreographies that reflect the concert’s theme and an original classical taiko piece composed by Mitsufumi Shimabukuro (1920-2006), a National Living Treasure of Japan, will be performed for the very first time in the U.S.

Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by contacting the OAA at [email protected] or (310) 532-1929. If available, tickets will also be sold at the door.

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