In Mexico, a Japanese traditional dancer shows how body movement speaks beyond culture and religion

MEXICO CITY — When music requires her to cry, Japanese traditional dancer Naoko Kihara barely alters her expression. It’s her arms and torso that move like a slow-motion wave.
“Expression is minimal because we cry with our body,” said Kihara, wrapped in her white and navy kimono, on a recent day at her dancing studio in Mexico, where an estimated 76,000 Japanese descendants live.

“It is the dance that is speaking, interpreting, since we do not smile, shout or laugh.”

Kihara won’t reveal her age, but she’s been practicing Japanese traditional dance for almost 24 years. Born in Brazil from Japanese parents who later moved to Mexico City, she carries on the legacy of Tamiko Kawabe, her mentor and pioneer of Hanayagi-style dance in the country.
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