Jiutamai dance is among the most elegant of classical Japanese dances. Performed in castles and palaces in historic times, it was later introduced into middle-class and upper-class families. This dance has also been performed in the entertainment quarters by maiko of Kyoto and geiko of Osaka. Its history is said to be over 400 years old, originating with spiritual dances dedicated to the gods. Jiutamai dance did not develop for performance on a large stage; rather, this style evolved as dances performed in an intimate space where the audience was able to view the performance close at hand. As this mode of dance allows viewers and performers to share the spirit of the moment, the choreography is based on natural human movements, with subtler phrasing than the exaggerated gestures of the Kabuki dancing style. The basic movements Jiutamai are actually closer to those of Noh performances, which influenced the dance form. As Jiuta (classical chamber music) started with the Biwa (Japanese lute) played in the Muromachi Era (16th century) when the Shamisen had not yet come into vogue, it can be considered that Jiutamai dance also started at that time. Before the Meiji Era (latter 19th century), Jiutamai was simply called Mai, or dance.
As the second headmaster of the Furusawa School, Ufo Furusawa preserves the art of the Jiutamai dance and has also mastered the Gotenmai (ritual palace) dance. In her efforts to develop and disseminate the traditional arts, she creates a unique world of dance while engaging in experimental activities. She has been invited to give performances of dedication at The Grand Shrine of Ise, Kiyomizu Temple, and Tenryu Temple. She has performed overseas at Carnegie Hall in New York, Palazzo Vecchio in Italy, Malbork Castle in Poland, and the Skinnskatteberg Electronic Music Festival held in Sweden, in addition to events in Paris, Versailles, Shanghai, and England. She has received many honors at events such as the Osaka Arts Festival and Kyoto Arts Awards. Between 2000 and 2008 she choreographed The Dance of Genji, based on the 54 chapters of The Tale of Genji. Since 2009, she has also developed a series of dancing performances called One Hundred Views of Snow (Yuki Hyakkei) in which her motions representing snow are repeated one hundred times.
Born in Morioka City, northern Japan, in 1972, Hiroyuki Kurosawa started learning Shamisen when he was seven years old. At the age of 17, he listened to tape recordings of Tsugaru Shamisen played by Yumito Inoue, of the Shirakawa School. Having been given recordings of the renowned Tsugaru Shamisen master Chikuzan Takahashi, he melded Chikuzan's melancholy phrasing with the sumptuous sound and dynamic percussive technique of the Shirakawa School to create his own unique style. He started composing when he was 20 and formed a rock band. He won the NITABOH prize, the highest honor of the National Tsugaru Shamisen Kanagi Competition, three times in a row from 2002 to 2004. He continues to engage in a wide range of musical activities and collaborates with musicians representing diverse musical genres.