Odoriko performances are intense, sometimes acrobatic choreographies, performed in sumptuous costumes—at least, until the costumes come off, because these dancers practice the Japanese form of striptease theater. The art was once popular, but is now seen only in a few clubs in the country.
The women travel from theater to theater, performing for ten days at a stretch for their ever-shrinking fan base. In their dressing rooms, we observe the performers eating, chatting, getting ready to go on stage, and then returning without their clothes—and without embarrassment in front of the camera.
Filming on mini-DV tape, as if he is not actually in the room, director Yoichiro Okutani observes the unusual, traditional profession of the odoriko and the contrast with the modern, everyday questions the women struggle with. Should you stop when you have children or get older? How do you combine this work with looking after your parents? “I hope you know that offstage we are shy and proper girls,” says one of the odoriko in a rare moment when she addresses the filmmaker. That is something he conveys cleverly, precisely by capturing their lack of inhibition.