Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Mamako Yoneyama

1935-
From: France, Japan
Fields: Stage and Screen
 
Born in 1935, Mamako began dancing at a very early age. Her father, a schoolteacher, was a dancer by choice, performing for a local ballet company.

By the time she was a teenager, Mamako was the acclaimed best dancer in school. She attended Tokyo University where she studied physical education. She studied modern dance under the aegis of Egichi-Miya, the famous Japanese choreographers/dancers.

She attended the debut of Marcel Marceau in Tokyo and immediately made up her mind to follow in his footsteps. Studying and dancing, she was the first to become a star in Japan. More than that, because of her pantomime, she became a curiosity and people flocked to see her performances.

She subsequently entered into a "two-year marriage contract" which ended before the first year was over.

Because pantomime was so new in Japan, it offended her to read that her mime was regarded as "twisted dance." She came to the United States and did well in Hollywood, but she was lonely there. She performed at mime festivals around the U.S. where she received great accolades. After a long stay in Japan, she decided to settle in Paris, where she teaches mime and writes about the meaning of expression in pantomime.

Contributed by Florence Prusmack, author of Khan: a romantic historical novel based on the early life of Ghenghis Khan in 1998.


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