On September 7-10, 2006, the town of La Junta and the Koshare Indian Dancers were privileged to host an incredible group from Japan. Dance Space of Yamagata, Japan selected the Koshare Indian Dancers to spend time with while they attended the 2006 Grassroots Summit held in Colorado Springs.
Many of our dancers were nervous about this home stay experience before our guests from Japan got here. We knew that there could be language barriers that might prevent us from bonding with this group. However, through the course of three days both groups made a remarkable life-long connection. Perhaps it was the music and dance we shared with each other that helped. On the final day, the members of Dance Space were no longer our guests, but members of our families.
Tears filled the eyes of many members from both groups as we each had to say good-bye to our new family. "It's amazing how in the course of three days we could become so close," one Koshare stated. He went on to say that if everyone could share similar experiences with other people around the world, then maybe this world would be a better place. It was a keen observation that Koshare made that day.
Through this connection with Dance Space, the Koshare were invited to attend and perform in Yamagata, Japan in 2007 at the 4th International Children's Music Festival. This was a tremendous opportunity for the Koshare Indian Dancers, La Junta and the surrounding areas. Our Koshares were able to continue their relationship with our new family, while sharing in the traditions and customs of another culture. Every kid that makde this trip will have a richer life because of it. The Arkansas Valley was able to advertise this area by sending the best walking advertisements we have - The Koshare Indian Dancers.
International Children's Music Festival
The purpose of the International Children's Music Festival is to bring children together who have a love of music, and to provide a unique opportunity for them to learn about other cultures, perform multi-cultural music from various regions of the United States, Japan and other countries, and to foster national and international friendships. All children who are members of children's choirs, youth symphony orchestra, and other music groups are eligible to participate. A main feature of the Festival is the home stay exerience. Visiting musicians from other countires will be welcomed into the Japanese homes. Through the home stay program, children will be able to truly experience and share each others' lives and cultures, so that all children participating can come to fully apreciate and understand one another.
About the former Festivals:
The 1st - in Colorado Springs, USA (2004), was attended by Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, Kimitsu Junior Chorus, Yamagata Broadcasting Co., Bambino Bambina Chorus, Yotsukaido Children's Chorus, Chokai Hope Wings, The Trailriders, Pikes Peak Performance Company and the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.
The 2nd - In Aichi, Japan as a part of the World Expo in 2005, was attended by Chicago Children's Choir, Boston Children's Chorus, San Francisco Boys Chorus, Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, Toyota City Boys & Girls Choir, Ogaki Boys & Girls Choir, Inuyama Kinder Choir, Sakuragaoka Children's Choir, Takayama Children's Chorale and Tajimi Choir.
The 3rd - In Chicago, USA in 2006, was attended by Chicago Children's Choir, Boston Children's Chorus, Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, Hiroshima Central Children's Choir, Tsuruoka Youth Choir and Yotsukaido Children's Chorus.
THE FESTIVAL IS HOSTED BY
The 4th International Children's Music Festival Executive Volunteer Committee consisting of Yamagata Prefectural Office, City of Tsuruoka, City of Sakata, Town of Shonai, Town of Yuza, Tsuruoka Youth Choir and NPO Starting Place.
About Dance Space
The Yumi Dance Company is made up of youth between the ages of 12 and 18. The program blends traditional Japanese dance with jazz and is suitable for all ages. Dance Space incorporates Western culture dance (such as ballet and jazz) with the Eastern style expression of the body. Their dance focuses heavily on the Western style, but it is adapted to the Japanese environment - specifically the Yamagata environment. Yamagata is surrounded by the mountains and is physically and spiritually "isolated." In this climate their hears are deepened spiritually from the presence of the ancient divines. Dance has an amazing way of portraying deep meanings and connecting cultures, while at the same time it is the language of the body common all over the world - that needs no words.