July 18—To help the public prepare for this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival Grand Parade (Aug. 14) and onto street dancing and closing ceremony (Aug. 21), free ondo classes are being held each Monday and Thursday starting July 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

The practices will be split into two sessions: the first hour for parade dances and the second hour for the ondo dances. Bring two sensu (folding fan), two bachi (16-inch-long, one-inch-diameter wood dowel) and uchiwa (round fan) to practices. (See NiseiWeek.org for practice dates and link to dance practice videos on YouTube.)

The 2011 Nisei Week choreographer is Madame Madame Bando Mitsuhiro, who has choreographed two dances for the parade, “Ai wa Katsu” by Kan and “Omikoshi.” The seven onto dances are “Kyushu Tanko Bushi,” “Kagoshima Ohara Bushi,” “Aizu Bandai San,” “Ichi Tatsu Ichi,” “Shiawase Samba,” “Sho Tokyo Ondo,” and “Asadoya Yunta.” This year, Minyo Station will perform live dance music.

For more information, contact Miles Hamada, onto and closing ceremony chairman, at mileshamada@yahoo.com or (323) 620-0662.