Fabulous Festival : Street Dancing in Sapporo, Japan

Last weekend, the entire city of Sapporo had mad dancing fever for the annual Yosakoi Soran Festival. Yosakoi consists of hardcore, dynamic dancing, and Soran is the traditional, rhythmical Hokkaido fisherman's song to which the performers dance. The song has been varied and modified to become extremely fast-paced and energetic.

Teams of 30-150 begin practicing (some everyday!!) back in March and April. The basic rules of the Yosakoi dance is that it must include Soran music, use of the traditional clappers, and have 100 meter advance dancing for the parade. The rest is up to the creativity of the dancers, and includes everything from elaborate costumes that can be transformed up to 3 times during a performance, taiko drummers, flags, props, banners, and the like. It's an amazing display of color, energy, tradition, and stamina (the performers can perform their dance constantly for up to two hours during the parade!!):


The best part about Yosakoi is the merging of traditional music, dance moves, and costumes, with modern beats and hip-hop steps! Also, as there were more than 300 dance teams, so there was really no limit to the variety of dances performed over the four-day festival!
At night, each team gets to perform another version of their Yosakoi dance on the main stage in Odori Park. During the event, the performers are judged, and on the last night, the finalists all have their turn wowing the audience with their sweet moves! It's really incredible to watch, and to think about all of the time that goes into a Yosakoi performance!

Watching the dancers, its incredibly hard not to get pumped up enough to join a team for next year...the drawback being the sacrifice of three months of your life to the endeavor! These people, for the most part, are SERIOUS (as my blonde friend, Callie, found out when the team she tried to join said she could on the condition that she dyed her hair black! )! I have to say that all of that hard work makes for an AMAZING festival and I absolutely cannot wait for next year's Yosakoi to roll back around!