Bön-​​Odori, New Paltz Dance Festival.

by Mary Kapusinsky

Dance Together for Peace. Sunday August 4, 2013, 12-​​9pm.
Hasbrouck Park, New Paltz, NY — Dance, Music, Taiko Drumming, Food, games, exhibitions, Japanese martial arts, and more

August bears deep significance for the Japanese, and for many peoples of the world. It is a month for reflection and insight. The Japanese festival of Obon celebrates the sacrifices made by one’s ancestors for the health and happiness of future generations.  In New Paltz, the BON-​​ODORI Dance Festival brings the Hudson Valley community together for a day of cultural food, dance and entertainment. It is a time to rejuvenate the community by remembering the past, honoring it, finding joy in it and taking the time to understand its lessons. It is also a time to look to the future and see what sacrifices this generation must make for those who will follow.

In 2013 the countries and peoples of the world are dealing with very interesting times. Change is happening, expedited by the disasters caused by a world struggling to survive progress. If ever a festival of peace and understanding were needed, it is now. Bön-​​Odori is a traditional festival, celebrated in Japan for over 500 years. In New Paltz, this is the third year the festival will take place, and it promises to continue along the example of that ancient culture in which its roots lie. Beyond an emphasis of deep cultural understanding and diversity, this exciting event also tackles some of the trickiest  issues facing the world today.

On August 6th, 1945 at 8:15 AM the United States and Japan were saddled with a terrible responsibility, that of directly understanding the consequences of using nuclear energy. Nuclear energy in all of its guises, is deadly, from the bomb that killed a third of Hiroshima’s population in six months, and continues to kill today, to the reactor melt-​​downs of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. There is no known way of dealing with the 30 tons of nuclear waste produced annually by every single nuclear power plant, besides to let it decay naturally. Such decay can take 240,000 years.

The other major forms of energy production currently utilized by the human population, are no less deadly. Most of their consequences are even easier to see and understand than the immensity of a nuclear disaster. Coal is said to significantly reduce the lifespan of more than a million people per year. Its airborne particulates and drastic mining procedures are going to be visible reminders of its impact on the environment for generations. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been shown to cause earthquakes and poison ground water, the same water most people use for drinking. In a place like New York where there is a nuclear power-​​plant (Indian Point) situated above the Ramapo Fault line, fracking could be the key component in causing the next great nuclear disaster. Oil is difficult to obtain, difficult to transport and highly destructive when spills occur, which happens regularly. Then it’s burned, giving it the dubious honor of being one of the largest greenhouse gas producers.

What are the consequences of the alternative energies of Solar, Wind and Water?

August is a time for remembrance, for reflection and to prepare for the transitions that must occur. So, come to Bön-​​Odori to remember why we must move away from these archaic methods of energy production and war. Come honor your ancestors and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to bring our generations the lessons we must now hold dear. Come celebrate with the global community and dance with us, for peace and a sustainable world. And come have fun.


12:00 PM: Native American Women’s Drumming
by Spirit of Thunderheart

12:30 PM: Martial Arts Demonstration 1
by New Paltz Karate Academy

1:15 PM: Local Rock Music
by The Tess Express

2:00 PM: “Rethink Energy — Stop Fracking” Speech
by Dan Guenther

2:30 PM: Greetings from New Paltz
Rebecca Rotzler & Youko Yamamoto

3:00 PM:  “An Important Message, Remembering the Past“
Peace Ceremony by Monshin & Shumon Abbot of Tendai-​​shu NY
Betsuin /​ Tendai Buddhist Institute

Heart Sutra Chant in Japanese & English

4:00 PM:  Local Music
by The Slurp

4:30 PM: Martial Arts Demonstration 2
Aikido of New Paltz 

5:00 PM:  Japanese Traditional Folk Dance
Hanagasa-​​kai, NYC

6:00 PM: Taiko Drumming Performance 1
Stuart Paton from Burlington Taiko

6:30 PM: Dances from around the world
Vanaver Caravan

7:00 PM: Taiko Drumming Performance 2
Stuart Paton from Burlington Taiko

7:30 PM: Bön-​​Odori Instruction
Hanagasa-​​kai, NYC

8:00 PM: Bön-​​Odori Dance
All the people

Edited by Jerusha Jaeger
Featured photograph by Lauren Thomas


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