Bon odori is a Japanese folk dance most often performed outside and danced in concentric circles around a raised wooden platform called a yagura, where taiko drummers may keep the beat. The dance developed several hundred years ago from a Buddhist chant to welcome the spirits of the ancestors, and has long been a staple of Obon, a Japanese summertime festival which is a period for Japanese to appreciate their ancestors by returning to their hometowns and “visiting with” the spirits of those who have passed.
Bon odori is a public, participatory dance that is meant to attract young and old, both trained dancers and those who just want to celebrate. Each region of Japan has its own variety of bon odori that celebrates its own unique culture. Bon odori made its first known public appearance in the U.S. in 1910 and since 1931 has been a fixture of many Japanese-American communities.
In this class, we will learn several Bon odori (Bon dances) from instructor Noriko Kitada. Noriko will also teach us a bit about the origins of the dances as well what Obon means to the Japanese Community and here in the U.S.
Bon odori can be done by everyone – young and old, experienced dancers and those who have never even seen it before! It is meant to be a time to be un-self-conscious and join with others in a communal experience… but it never hurts to know a bit more about bon odori before you try it, so you’re ready to throw yourself into the dancing without having to learn it all on the spot!
Students will learn Japanese culture, songs, language, teamwork, rhythm, coordination and leadership skills! This class is open to ANYONE! No experience in dance or taiko required!