This time of year the weather is hot in Japan, but it’s a family time of year celebrated by the O-Bon festival.
Street festivals which feature traditional dances seem to be everywhere.
So how did a Canadian ballet teacher end up teaching the elements of the traditional Obon odori to a group of youngsters in the middle of B.C.?
Thirty years ago, Helen Price, a graduate of the National Ballet of Canada School, had been an international dancer and choreographer before moving to Japan where she opened her own dance studio, which hosts world renowned dancers and instructors. As a natural part of living there, Price has also participated in the local Obon matsuri, or festival.
Her long-time friend Monica Kapelar invited her to participate in a series of ballet workshops in Smithers and in the course of planning these workshops, they decided on an introduction to the Obon odori.
Price explained what the various steps meant and how they developed in the various regions of the country, for example hand movements that were like shoveling from a coal mining region.
Price had the traditional music for the different dances and the students were able to practice their new skills in as close conditions as possible.