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Japanese Folk Dance Has Modern Appeal With Locals And Students

6:15 PM, Mar 29, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) --- Bodies hop and sway to a rhythmic beat. The dancers face each other in a line. They're dressed in colorful cloth robes and head garb from Japan.

The movements are part of an ancient Japanese dance originally performed by rural workers in the rice fields.

"Daidengaku," ancient Japanese folk dancing, now has modern appeal.

A mix of local District residents, area college students and Japanese students put on a show, Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at George Washington University (GWU). The dance is part of the event for the 100th National Cherry Blossom Festival.

This folk dance became popular from the 11th to the 16th centuries as they were spread to Kyoto and other major Japanese cities, according to the Japanese Information and Culture Center.

The dances were very popular about 1000 years ago. Then, there was a period of decline.

"For some time, this [dance] was forgotten," said Shoko Hamano, the Director of the Language Center and professor of Japanese, at GWU.

Then, Mannojo Nomura (1959-2004), a contemporary dance master, brought the dances back to popularity by infusing some modern dance styles.

"It is very popular because of the participatory nature of the dance," said Hamano.

Rural workers danced to forget about the fatigue while working in the rice paddies.

Today, the goal of the dancers is to create energy.

"They just learned how to dance, and the idea is just to enjoy their spirits more so than really to be skillful.  Just enjoy and show our energy! That's important part of this dance tradition," said Hamano.

Written & Reported by: Elizabeth Jia

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