Udaka Michishige (Founder/President)
Master-Actor Udaka Michishige is both a professional Noh actor and a Noh mask carver. He studied as a live-in apprentice of Kongō Iwao II, the 25th Grand Master of the Kongō School. Since completing his studies in 1970 he has continued honing his skills, performing virtuoso pieces including Dōjō-ji koshiki, Tokusa, and Sotoba Komachi. He was designated a representative of a National Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government in 1991. Michishige founded his mask carving group, the Men-no-kai, in 1978, and the International Noh Institute in 1984. He currently teaches and performs extensively in Japan, and has performed Noh and exhibited Noh masks internationally. Read Udaka Michishige’s full profile here.
Rebecca Teele Ogamo (Senior Director)
Rebecca Teele Ogamo started training in Noh and mask carving with Udaka Michishige in 1972. She received her Kongō-ryū shihan (certified instructor) license in 1980 and became the first non-Japanese member of the Noh Performers’ Association in 1996. She has taken the shite role in eight Noh beginning with Hagoromo in 1976 and most recently Yuki in 2010. She has presented workshops, demonstrations, and lectures in the USA, Brazil, and New Zealand, assisting with the production there of The Dazzling Night, by Rachel McAlpine and directed by INI member John Davies. She is particularly committed to creating Noh masks for women performers. In 2003 she was awarded the Kyoto Prefecture Akebono Prize for contributions by women to the prefecture.
Diego Pellecchia (Junior Director)
Dr. Diego Pellecchia started studying Noh in Italy with Monique Arnaud in 2006. In 2012 he has moved to Kyoto where he continues his training with Udaka Michishige. In 2013 he took the shite role in the full Noh Kiyotsune, which he performed at the Kongō Nōgakudō in Kyoto, and is now on the track to obtain his shihan (instructor) license. Diego holds a PhD in Drama from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has published widely on Noh theatre and its reception outside Japan. He is currently conducting a research on amateur Noh practitioners as associate researcher of the Art Research Centre, Ritsumeikan University. Follow his personal blog on Noh here.
Monique Arnaud (European Coordinator)
Monique Arnaud has been studying Noh with Udaka Michishige since 1984. She received the Kongō-ryū shihan (certified instructor) license in 1991. She has taken the shite role in several full Noh plays: in 2010 she performed Makiginu, while in 2013 she took the tsure role in Kiyotsune. In 1998 she has opened the Italian Branch of the INI in Milan, teaching Noh chant and dance following the Kongō School tradition. Monique is associate professor at IUAV University of Venice, where she directs student productions under the influence of Noh principles since 2008. She also continues her work as opera director in Italy, Japan and Spain. Monique is the only licensed Noh instructor resident in Europe, and teaches Noh chant and dance in Milan.
Cristina Picelli (Branch representative – Italy)
Cristina Picelli started to train in Noh with Monique Arnaud in 1999. Since 2007 she visits Kyoto periodically in order to train with Udaka Michishige. In June 2013 she has been the first italian woman to perform a maibayashi (dance and music excerpt of a Noh play) on a Noh stage in Japan. She has mastered a number of shimai and has also served in the ji-utai chorus. In Italy, She organizes workshops, demonstrations, lectures and lessons for the Italian branch of the INI in Milan. Cristina graduated in Art History and Criticism with a thesis that analyses Udaka Michishige’s shinsaku-noh (new Noh) Genshigumo. Her dream is to build a full Noh stage in Italy.
Lee Stothers (Branch representative – Canada)
Dr. Lee Stothers began training in noh with Udaka Michishige in 1986. She received her Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia, where she also taught classical Japanese, and pre-modern Japanese literature. After graduation she received numerous grants to develop segments of her contemporary noh play, culminating in live performances of “Tama: Black & White Dragon,” “Blue Dragon” and “Equinox: A Video Noh.” Upon her return to Kyoto in 2007 for Udaka Michishige’s 60th birthday recital, Lee performed with INI members her noh play, The Fisherman’s Wife, one of a cycle of five noh-inspired screenplays, Bridges (still in progress). During the summer of 2012 she hosted the 1st INI Summer Intensive Course in Vancouver, a two-week series of workshops including mask-carving, shimai, and utai conducted by Udaka-sensei on an outdoor Noh stage in North Vancouver.
Angela Mayumi Nagai (Branch representative – Brazil)
Angela Mayumi Nagai, dancer and researcher, started her training in shimai and utai with Udaka Michishige as a Japan Foundation Fellow in 1997 and became instructor of basic Noh techniques with the INI in 2003. In 2012 she received her PhD in Arts from the State University of Campinas. She is a member of CEO (Center for Oriental Studies), Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). She is a regular teacher of body techniques for actors in Campinas as well as being an active member of the Brazilian Association of Nohgaku (BAN), since 2012. The BAN was started by 21 practitioners of Noh chant, dance and music who live in Brazil, including Japanese immigrants and Brazilians. BAN has been presenting performances since 2009 and promotes courses in Noh dance, chant and music for professionals and amateurs, since 2014, in the city of São Paulo.