Goodbye, Masami Okada
The flamenco community mourns the death of Japanese bailaora Masami Okada. It has been almost one hundred years since flamenco arrived in Japan, brought there by the great Antonia Mercé La Argentina in 1929. Such anniversary should be celebrated in style here in Andalusia, a land grateful for the beloved Japan.
David Lagos gave me the sad news: The great Japanese dancer and bailaora Masami Okada, who came to Spain in the 1970s to begin her flamenco training with masters such as Granero and others, and who was part of Ballet de María Rosa for many years, had died. I remember her in that dance company when Ballet de María Rosa was one of the few that performed at Seville’s Lope de Vega theater, before the Bienal de Sevilla was created in 1980. Back then, it was a novelty to see a Japanese dancing flamenco or Spanish classical dance, and Masami had a graceful style and astonishing agility. In fact, she was a soloist dancer. She and the great Yoko Komatsubara, honored in Spain, and also Yasuko Nagamine and Shoji Kijima, were the pioneers, and both will leave their mark as bailaoras and entrepreneurs.
Okada went back to Japan and opened her own dance studio in Tokyo. Her work on behalf of flamenco was very important for Andalusian bailaores and for all the Japanese people who discovered flamenco from her, from Yoko and from the great Spanish flamenco stars who often visited that country. Masami is dearly and gratefully remembered by all those artists invited every year for her recitals in Tokyo and other cities in Japan. Many are devastated by her death, occurred on December 7th as a result of lung cancer, and that is completely understandable, as it has been almost one hundred years since flamenco arrived in Japan, brought there by the great Antonia Mercé La Argentina in 1929. Such anniversary should be celebrated in style here in Andalusia, a land grateful for the beloved Japan.
Translated by P. Young