Nisei Week Ondo Practice Begins This Week

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Dancers prepare for the Nisei Week Grand Parade. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Ever want to dance in the Nisei Week Ondo and Closing Ceremony or Grand Parade? Join in this year as the Nisei Week Japanese Festival celebrates its 78th anniversary Aug. 11-19.

To help the public prepare for the Grand Parade (Aug. 12) and Ondo and Closing Ceremony (Aug. 19), free public dance practices are being held from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The first practice will be on Thursday, July 19, at Centenary United Methodist Church, Third Street and Central Avenue. Then, on Tuesday, July 24; Thursday, July 26; Tuesday, July 31; and Thursday, Aug. 2, practices will be held on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza (JACCC), 244 S. San Pedro St. Bring a tenugui (towel) and uchiwa (round fan) to each practice. Questions should be directed to Miles Hamada at (323) 620-0662 or [email protected]

The 2018 Nisei Week choreographer is Madame Fujima Kansuma, who turned 100 years old in May. She has taught countless women how to dance; 46 of them have received their natori, meaning they have been granted their professional name.

Her work to educate and build bridges between two cultures and two nations has been recognized by both the Japanese and American governments. In 1985, the government of Japan awarded her the Order of the Precious Crown, Apricot in recognition for her work in enhancing the appreciation of Japanese culture in the U.S. The National Endowment for the Arts also deemed her a National Heritage Fellow for the Arts in 1987, honoring her as a master traditional artist and recognizing her lifetime achievements and contributions to the nation’s traditional arts heritage. In 2004, she was given the Japanese American National Museum’s Cultural Ambassador Award for her devotion and commitment to the art of Japanese classical dance.

Madame Kansuma continues to teach and choreograph. Her passion and devotion to her art has no bounds and it is her dream that her legacy be kept alive and continued for generations to come.

The 2018 Nisei Week Japanese Festival is a nine-day event first held in 1934, and is recognized today as one of the nation’s longest-running ethnic festivals. For a calendar of events, log on to NiseiWeek.org, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193 or email [email protected] The Nisei Week office is located in the JACCC at 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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