Dancer Mary Arii Mah Dies at 58

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SAN FRANCISCO – Japanese classical dancer Mary Arii Mah died on Jan. 6 surrounded by family in San Francisco after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was 58.

Her family said she displayed strength, courage and a positive attitude throughout her illness, and persevered despite losing both her husband, Melvin, and father, Mum, within the last three years.

Mary Arii Mah

Mary Arii Mah

Born on May 11, 1955, Mah grew up in Sunnyvale and graduated with a B.A. in Japanese language from UC Berkeley, where she met her husband. She was a lifelong student and later teacher of Japanese classical dance, attending Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo from 1977 to 1979 while studying to receive her natori (dance title).

Professionally she was known as Bando Misayasu and was a member of the Bando Mitsusa Kai.

When she was just a teenager, Mah became an assistant dance instructor for the annual San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Obon Odori. Until recently, she was a fixture on the main stage at the Obon Festival, showing a style and grace that came from countless hours of practice. She also loved teaching odori to her private dance students.

Mah worked as a legal secretary for 15 years at the law firm Murphy, Weir & Butler. She also enjoyed riding her Andalusian named Babieca, fishing with her father, and skiing with her family.

She is survived by her daughter, Melanie; son, Matthew, mother, Mas; brother, Rod; and numerous relatives.

Services were held on Feb. 23 at San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin.

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