Momiji Dancers

photograph of large group of women in multi-coloured kimonos in front of curtain and signs with Japanese symbols
Momiji Dancers celebrating their 30th Anniversary, Lethbridge, Alberta, 2008. Back left to right: Pat Sassa, Kaz Sugimoto, Nancy Setoguchi, Toshi Miyanaga, Gaye Takao, Lily Oishi, Jean Tatebe, Lily Yamashita, Jennifer Hashizumi, Miyo Sunada, Sally Kanegawa, Louise Nishiyama, Mae Kanomata, Amy Nakamura, Deanna Oye, Afra Foroud, Lisa Doolittle. Seated in front: left to right: Karen Tamami Hirano Sato, Tatsumi Yoshikiyo (Chiyoko Hirano) of Tatsumi Kai (Dance Society), Aya Hironaka (coach for 33 years). Courtesy of the Momiji Dance Society

The Momiji Dancers Society was formed in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1978 a year after the Japanese Canadian Centennial Celebration. Their original mandate was to preserve and promote the Japanese culture through activities and dance performances for the people of southern Alberta.

Initially 31 students formed the Momiji Dancers with a traditional dance teacher or Sensei. They came from the communities of Vauxhall, Stirling, Taber, Raymond and Lethbridge.

Since its founding, the Momiji Dancers surpassed their original goals. Locally they have performed at Alberta Summer and Winter Games, at Heritage Day and Canada Day annually, senior citizen lodges, public schools, the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, many Japanese‐Canadian events, and at various conferences. They also performed by invitation in Nisei Week festivities in Los Angeles California, at the Tatsumi Ryu School of Dancing in Vancouver, Folklorama in Winnipeg, Klondike Days in Edmonton, and the Gala Charity Ball in Yellowknife, North West Territories.

2008 marked the 30th anniversary of the Momiji Dancers Society, and on May 3 that year, 18 local performers marked the anniversary with a dance demonstration and dinner. The society was officially dissolved in the fall of 2010 due to a decline in performance opportunities and a diminishing number of dancers.