fandangobonGreat Leap and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center present “FandangObon” on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. at JACCC’s Noguchi Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

The cross-cultural event will feature Quetzal Flores with Luis Sarmiento, Nobuko Miyamoto and the Mottainai Band, and special guests Valera Miranda of Cuba.

Fandango is a participatory music and dance tradition from Veracruz, Mexico. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition of music and circle dances in remembrance of ancestors. Both of these flourishing cultural expressions create community.

Flores, Miyamoto and Martha Gonzalez created “FandangObon” in the hope that a musical dialogue can open cultural borders between diverse Angeleno communities, and that a ritual circle dance can help everyone imagine a new vision for Los Angeles.

“The idea for ‘FandangObon’ came to me after Quetzal invited me to come to a fandango class at Plaza de la Raza last year,” said Miyamoto, founder and artistic director of Great Leap. “I walked into the theater space and saw a circle of people playing what looked like ukeleles. They were jaranas, same family. There was a platform in the middle and some people stomping out rhythms, others singing verses. Everyone was participating.

“Immediately, Quetzal puts a jarana in my hands and says, ‘Play!’ Who, me? After a half-hour or so, I was actually kind of getting it! And it was so much fun. I reminded me of how taiko and Obon are such participatory art forms. A rare thing in this world when we are mostly observers and listeners of music and dance. Not so in the old days. Our grandparents entertained themselves by playing and singing.

“As I was leaving the class, I casually said to Quetzal, ‘Hmmm, what would happen if we brought fandango and Obon together? He said, ‘Let’s do it!’ That’s how it all began.”

The final workshop to learn the dance will be held on Sunday, Oct. 27, at 12 p.m. at Senshin Buddhist Temple, 1311 W. 37th St., Los Angeles.

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