Obon Dance Workshop a Success!
students home for the summer, YBA high-schoolers (plus parents) out in
droves, adults who wanted to learn more, and 7 year olds who just love
to dance, 45 people converged on the Youth Obon Dance Workshop at the
Buddhist Church of Florin on July 22nd. Sponsored by the Florin JACL
Youth Project and the Florin Young Buddhist Association (YBA), the
workshop was a solid success.
Hanayagi dance experts Cheryl Miles and Michelle Takeda provided
valuable insights into Obon dance and dress. Michelle (with assistance
from models Leesa Kakutani, Leslie Okamoto, and young family members)
demonstrated the often-challenging obi (sash) tying. Reverend Ryo
Imamura of the Buddhist Church of Florin shared the Buddhist story
behind Obon to the gathered crowd, many new to this message.
the motivating workshop, the participants joined that evening’s
regular Florin Obon dance practice. With about 100 dancers learning the
steps, again led by Cheryl, Michelle, and other trained dancers, it must
have been a record crowd for a recent Florin practice. As Twila Tomita,
one of the workshop organizers, observed, it was a welcoming way for new
people to learn about Obon dance and join the practice. The Buddhist
Church of Florin’s July 26th Obon Festival also drew a record number
200 dancers, including many drawn out by the workshop.
Advisor Ginny Syphax and daughter YBA President Robyn Syphax got the
outreach and dessert refreshments going. Tadao Koyama and Miyako Abe,
home from U.C. Santa Cruz and S.F. State, made workshop attendee feel
comfortable with their personal introductions. Judie Miyao, also mother
of Cheryl and Michelle, provided her support for the project, in
addition to her usual Florin Obon coordinating efforts.
“Iron Chef” Kurasaki (our Florin JACL Youth Co-Advisor) whipped up
those dozens of amazing teriyaki chicken bentos. Mike Staley, prepared
as always, readied cool watermelons for after practice refreshments.
Twila and Andy marshaled the hot dog and chip brigade, plus workshop
coordination. The excellent Nichibei Times special Obon issue, courtesy
of editor Kenji Taguma, was an eagerly sought resource at the workshop.
major involvement by the Florin YBA was especially appreciated. The
outreach, delicious dessert, use of the church multi-purpose room, and
co-sponsorship were tremendous contributions to the workshop’s
Noguchi serves as the Florin JACL’s Youth Co-Advisor along with Karen