Japanese, Mexican and African American Artists in Los Angeles Bring Together Their Communities through the Participatory Music and Dance of Obon, Fandango, and Egungun Traditions
Great Leap and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) invite L.A.’s diverse communities to the Noguchi Plaza to be part of FANDANGO OBON 2014 on Sunday, October 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Los Angeles based artists QUETZAL, NOBUKO and Nigerian drum master NAJITE, bring together popular participatory music and dances of Fandango from Veracruz, Mexico; Obon from the Japanese Buddhist tradition and Egungun from Nigeria’s Yoruba tradition.
The event opens with the Mottainai EcoFest, offering hands-on workshops and exhibits that focus on the important topic of cultural and environmental sustainability within communities of color.
At 1:00 p.m., the FANDANGO OBON begins with the call of taiko drums, to bring everyone into a circle with their instruments or their feet to engage in the music and dance that traditionally have helped bind and build community for Mexican, Japanese and African Americans.
This year, the public can be part of a new dance titled, “Omiye,” a ritual of appreciation for the sacred sustainer of life and water—a “rain dance.”
FANDANGO OBON was conceived by local artists, Nobuko Miyamoto, Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez, each with extensive experience in engaging the public in participatory arts.
Nobuko has written several songs with circle dances in the Japanese Obon tradition. Her “Mottainai” has stimulated interest in the Japanese tradition of “no waste,” and is danced by thousands during yearly Obon Festivals.
She is the Director of Great Leap, a multicultural arts organization which uses art as both performance and creative practice to deepen relations among people of diverse cultures and faiths.
Quetzal and Martha of GRAMMY® winning band, QUETZAL, have helped spread the flourishing participatory music and dance of the Fandango, a synthesis of Mexican, African, and Native music and dance, rooted in Veracruz, Mexico.
Now they collaborate with Najite Agindotan, master Nigerian drummer and founder of Festival of the Masks in Leimert Park.
In 2013, the first FANDANGO OBON gathering produced a music and dance conversation between two cultures, in the form of a song and dance that was titled, “Bambutsu,” meaning all things connected.
Over this summer, over 10,000 people danced “Bambutsu” at eighteen Buddhist temples throughout Southern California in their yearly Obon Festivals. A brief video about last year’s event is available at: http://youtu.be/bPwaYvXH_gw.