From Toyama to Montreal: Sharing Culture Through Dance

The Individual

My name is Melody, and I am from London, Ontario. I moved to Montreal less than a year ago to experience a new part of Canada and improve my French. Before Montreal, I lived in Toyama, Japan for three years.

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“Things like music and dance touch us in a way that words can’t, and that is so important to building a diverse community.”

The Craft

I started Yosakoi two years ago when I was living in Toyama. Yosakoi is a creative outlet and a way for me to stay connected to Japan. I love being part of a team and the fun that we have together. There are less than 20 Yosakoi teams outside of Japan, and it feels wonderful being able to represent this dance form internationally. I love dancing, and joining a Yosakoi team in Japan allowed me to connect with members of my community and to feel like I was participating in something meaningful. It was also a way for me to practice my Japanese and get outside of my comfort zone I competed with my team in Japan at a few festivals and the positive experience really resonated with me.

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“Art forms like theatre, music, and dance are transient and require you to be open to the world around you.”

I think I express myself most easily through visual art, but that tends to keep me trapped in my own head. Art forms like theatre, music, and dance are transient and require you to be open to the world around you. If you’re painting, you can continue to fix any mistakes you want but when a performance is done it’s done. This makes performing thrilling and terrifying in a good way.

The Event

It feels really good to have events like Matsuri Japon. I’m half-Japanese, but I could count the number of Japanese people I met growing up on two hands. Being able to participate in events like Matsuri allow me to feel connected to the Japanese community and culture. Art is a powerful way to create cross-cultural connections because it allows us to express and understand each other’s experiences. Things like music and dance touch us in a way that words can’t, and that is so important to building a diverse community.

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“Yosakoi is a creative outlet and a way for me to stay connected to Japan.”

Staying connected to Japan is possible when you find the right groups and communities. For me, my Yosakoi group is an important part of staying connected to Japanese culture. It’s amazing to see so many Japanese restaurants and bars in Montreal and Toronto (it seems like a lot more than when I left Canada 4 years ago!).

The Performance

My group is performing 6 dances, all of which are high energy fun. They give a taste of what makes Yosakoi such a unique style of dance!

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See Melody and the rest of Sakuramai perform today at Matsuri Japon!

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