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Nisei Week Offers Free Public Dance Practice

Ever want to dance in the Nisei Week Ondo and Closing Ceremony or Grand Parade? Join the fun this year as the Nisei Week Japanese Festival celebrates its 77th anniversary Aug. 19-27.

Learning the steps for the Nisei Week Ondo at JACCC Plaza in Little Tokyo. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

To help the public prepare for the Grand Parade (Aug. 20) and Ondo and Closing Ceremony (Aug. 27), free public dance practices are being held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25; Thursday, July 27; Tuesday, Aug. 1; and Tuesday, Aug. 8, on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza (JACCC), 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. Bring two sets of naruko (wood clapper) and two sticks to each practice. Questions should be directed to Miles Hamada at (323) 620-0662 or

The 2017 Nisei Week choreographer is Madame Bando Hidesomi. Born in Torrance, she started her training under Madame Bando Mitsuhiro in 1976 at the age of three. In 1985, she also started training under Madame Bando Hideko, daughter of Grand Master Bando Mitsugoro IX (9th). She trained in Japan for five years under his care while attending Keio University. During this time, she received the title of shin (master’s degree). She also participated in the Bando School’s Charity Recital in Tokyo and Bando-Kai’s 75th Anniversary Recital at the National Theater of Japan.

After returning to the U.S. in 1996, she began to build her career as a professional dancer and started the Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo class. While pursuing her own studies as a professional dancer, she has dedicated herself to the upbringing of her students in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years. She presently teaches at the Pasadena and Gardena Japanese cultural institutes, with students ranging from 5-year-old children to seniors in their 60s. For the past 18 years, she has also been a part of the after-school program at El Marino Elementary School.

Bando Hidesomi and one of her students at the West Covina Cherry Blossom Festival. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Bando Hidesomi and her students have performed at many different venues throughout the years, including Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival, Thunder and Silk (a multicultural event) and other events held at Mt. San Antonio College, Summer Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos, Iris Festival at the Arboretum, Awaya-Kai koto concerts, and Warner Grand Theater. They were also invited to the Arizona Matsuri Festival 2002, held in Phoenix. They participate annually in the Nisei Week Festival, Obon festivals held at Zenshuji and Sozenji temples, Gardena Valley JCI Matsuri, and other local events.

Through Nihon buyo (Japanese classical dance), Bando Hidesomi wishes to express the feeling of appreciation and respect for all cultures, and wishes her passion for this art form will bring love, joy, peace and hope to everyone, creating a bridge of unity.

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