This weekend, the Japan Foundation will bring daidengaku to the Nisei Week Festival.
This folk dance takes its name from dengaku, the rice-planting festivals of rural Japan. Dancers wear traditional costumes, which include brightly colored robes, streamers, and elaborate, outlandish hats.
From the 11th to 16th centuries, dengaku dances spread to Kyoto and other cities, where they became quite popular. Over time, though, they disappeared, until performer Monnojo Nomura (1959-2004) resurrected them, incorporating them with more contemporary styles of movement. Since then, daidengaku has been performed on many historical TV dramas and at events all over the world, including the 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
This weekend’s daidengaku troupe will hold both a performance and an interactive workshop. The workshop will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m at The Japan Foundation building, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100. No prior dance experience is necessary, and participants will have the opportunity to try on authentic costumes. To RSVP to this free event, visit jflalc.org/daidengaku-workshop.html.
The daidengaku performance will be held on Sunday in Little Tokyo at 2 p.m. (JACCC Plaza) and 4 p.m. (First Street between San Pedro Street and Central Avenue). No RSVP is necessary to attend either performance.
Dancers will be led by performer Manzo Nomura IX, who was trained by his father (Manzo Nomura) and grandfather (Manzo Nomura VI), both recognized by the Japanese government as Living National Treasures.
Nomura will also lead a kyogen performance and workshop at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. Kyogen is a kind of traditional Japanese comedic theater that was popular in the same era as the more serious noh. Literally translated, kyogen means mad, or crazy, words. Admission to this performance is $35, and tickets can be purchased through the JACCC. For more information, visit jaflc.org/kyogen.html.