About Frances Nakachi Sensei
Frances Nakachi Sensei, who was born and raised in Okinawa, began her instruction in the Ryukyuan dance under the dual tutelage of acclaimed sisters Yoshiko Tanita Sensei and Mieko Kinjo Sensei, co-directors of the Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai. With the support of her mother, she began her dance career at the tender age of 3, a career which continued throughout her high school years spent in Okinawa.
In 1986, her Hawaii dance career began when she came to the islands to attend college. Her cousin, the late Kiyoshi Kinjo Sensei, an Okinawan sanshin player, invited both Frances and her older sister Kathy to perform at various Okinawan functions. This opportunity that paved the path to meeting many special people in Hawaii. The warm, sincere and friendly Okinawan community that she found existing in Hawaii ignited her passion to share her dance here. In fact, she was so touched by the people's strong sense of commitment and responsibility to perpetuate the culture, that she felt instantaneously at home.
Throughout her studies, Frances Sensei traveled back and forth to and from Japan in order to continue her learning, completing all three certifications of testing administered by the Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper Company in Okinawa, known as the Geino Konkuru, performing Arts Contest. This prestigious contest is an annual event where students of all branches of Okinawan traditional performing arts are judged by a panel of distinguished artists from each respective art form. There are three levels of testing that each student must pass: Shinjin sho, Newcomers' Award, Yushusho, Award of Excellence, and Saikosho, Highest Award. Frances encourages and supports her students in taking the certification testing in Okinawa, so that they too can experience the same intensive training and learn the same valuable lessons that she was able to—a priceless opportunity which will be forever imprinted in their lives.
On January 9, 1999, Frances passed her certification exam in Okinawa, earning her Kyoshi license in dance from her instructors Yoshiko Tanita Sensei and Mieko Kinjo Sensei. To commemorate her accreditation, and to formally introduce the Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo to the community, Frances held her first recital at the Hawaii Theatre together with the centennial celebration of the Okinawan immigration to Hawaii, entitled “Chu Hisa Na, Fulfilling Dreams, One Step at a Time.”
On June 5, 2005, Frances passed the exam for the highest level of teaching certification in Okinawa, earning her a Shihan license, the Master Instructor license in dance. The certification deepene Frances’ sense of commitment to preserving the culture, as well as enriching her understanding that learning is a never ending life endeavor. In fact, it is a known motto of Frances’ that the dance is always evolving, and we must not stop learning.
Frances Sensei has achieved attaining all these certifications not only for the perpetuation of the Ryukyuan Arts, but for also in honor of her mother, who was her biggest fan. The Frances’ mother also used to perform Okinawan dance herself, and it was her dream to have both Frances and Frances’ older sister, Kathy, to become teachers just like their sensei, Yoshiko Sensei and Mieko Sensei.
With the support and blessings of the lemoto or Founding Directors, Tanita Sensei and Kinjo Sensei, Frances Sensei began teaching Okinawan dance classes in Hawaii in 1997.
In Okinawa, there is a phrase, “Yui Maaru,” meaning to "help one another". The spirit of Yui Maaru that Frances had experienced within the community had molded her to now become the teacher, and she wanted give back to these beautiful and caring people through her dance.
One way that Frances Nakachi is able to do this is by focusing on outreach programs that help and serve the local community. Both she and her academy volunteers perform at senior centers and hospitals. They participate in festivals as well, such as the Chinese Spring Festivals and Korean festivals, which help to promote cultural diversity.
Frances has also performed at a National Theatre of Japan in Okinawa, Fukuoka and Shizuoka and was also invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. More recently, she was even able to have the joy of bringing her academy to participate in the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. and in New York’s Japan Day celebration.
Today, it remains Frances’ mission to promote and perpetuate the Okinawan culture in Hawaii and to the world.