All About Japan

The 'Capital Dragon' of Dance & Theater

| Theater , Kyoto

Based in Kyoto, the KyoRyukan Theater Company has a long history of bilingual and multidisciplinary performance pieces, from dance and musicals to straight theater and films.

Capital Dragon

The first iteration of the KyoRyuKan was founded by dance and performance artist Peter Golightly in 1997. “I'd been looking for a small dance studio, and I stumbled over the top floor of the old American Culture Center,” Golightly explains. “It was huge, and even though I could also live there, it was not cheap. So the the joke was that I had a pet monster that ate all of my earnings.” The suffix kan (館) is often used for houses and public halls in Japan, while the word for dinosaur is kyoryu (恐竜, “terrible dragon”). With the popularity of the Jurassic Park movies in the ‘90s, it wasn’t long before the earnings-eating Monster House became the Dinosaur House—or KyoRyuKan.

The name has gone through one minor modification since: “I studied various forms of traditional Japanese dance over the years,” Golightly says, “and a kimono painter used to hold his exhibitions in our space. He asked that we change the characters from ‘terrible lizard’ to ‘capital dragon,’ since it’s the same kyo used in Kyoto. I think it works out fine!”

In 2001, Golightly and collaborator Manivannan Naidu decided to expand the KyoRyuKan project to include theater, transforming Golightly’s original performance project into The KyoRyuKan Theater Company.

The KyoRyuKan liven in the American Culture Center for 10 years before moving to a larger space that was lost just three years later, leaving the KyoRyuKan an itinerant entity. “I hope one day we'll have our own space again,” Golightly says. “Who knows what the future holds!”

Upcoming Events

The KyoRyuKan Theater Company (KRK) will be holding workshops and auditions for an upcoming performance of Peter Golightly’s mini-musical Caps For Sale! and his one-act comedy The Sacred Fire. A two-day workshop audition will be held on September 24 and 25, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kyoto Rokkaku Studio southeast of Karasuma Oike Station in Kyoto. The workshop/auditions will be bilingual and cost ¥2,000 each, or ¥3,500 for both. Performances are projected to take place over a weekend in late November.

The KRK will also be restarting the “Dance de Gozansu” (DDG) open stage for movement-based theater program. DDG is open to all forms of physical theater, having hosted ballet, Butoh, modern, hip-hop, traditional dances from all over the world, and pieces that incorporate text, video, experimental technology and of course, music.

Participants are offered five- to 20-minute spots, and are responsible for selling eight to 20 tickets according to the length of their piece and the size of their group. The space is not huge, but a group of up to six dancers is recommended. Auditions will be held at Rokkaku Studio and cost ¥1,000 per group. Tickets for the performance are ¥2,000. The first event is planned for early November 2016 at the Ohki Kaikan, just east of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. A second event is anticipated in early spring 2017.

Peter Golightly also offers modern dance, vocal and stretch classes, as well as classes for children at Rokkaku Studio and at his home in near Hankyu Saiin Station. Classes run from 60 to 90 minutes.

An upcoming musical theater class is planned as well, with chorus and basic dance. For more information, contact Peter at petergolightly@hotmail.com, or check out the group's Facebook page below!