Okinawan Dance Artists Receive Title and Status Decided By Money

Shudun        It seems that the dance art of Okinawa (or those who want to be publicly and politically recognized in the Okinawa dance world at least), will be continued by only those who can afford the high price put on the teaching certificates and titles given as signs of advancement in the art.  This adopted system has made its way to Okinawa through Japan, and has literally ripped the heart out of this treasure that helped to raise Okinawans above their hard times and suffering.  Its become a kind of extortion.     This evening, I was left a message to call the parent dojo in Okinawa.  The call turned out to be an invitation to receive my “shihan” license to the grand tune of over $2000.  $1500 more than what it cost just 10 years ago.  The reason for this belated offering of elevation, was that another student in L.A., who started over 7 years after me, was going to receive his.  An option to delay my advancement even further was given, if I could not come up with the money.  I couldn’t believe it!  The only obstacle to receiving the “master’s teaching certificate” was $2000.   The guy in LA, who started way after me, would advance and be considered above me, just because he could pay the fee.       In the past, when the current teachers of power were learning and began teaching, their teachers taught from their hearts, and did not ask for such cash.  Instead, they did the opposite.  The teachers of old, hardly took money.  If  a student couldn’t afford tuition, it was ok.  Also, the teachers back then accepted whatever the student could afford.  The teachers even bought costumes and implements for those who couldn’t afford it.  The Okinawan dance world did not take on this kind of system until the introduction of the Iemoto system.  Can you believe that the inflating fees have gotten in the way of many great dancers advancing, and even end up with many never wanting to dance again.  Dance is an art that is learned and expressed from the heart.  It is not something that is created by money.  As for now, for those who can afford it, ….let it be to their advantage.  If this storm continues, a great art of Okinawa will become as rare as the I`iwi of Hawai`i’s rain forests.  As for myself, I did decline the offer of “shihan”, and will not succumb to filling the golden pocketbooks of teachers who have lost touch with what this art is really about.