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North American Members Offer Artistic Presentations for the 50th Anniversary Ceremony

On November 3, North American members joined members from around the world in a unified choir for the 50th Anniversary Ceremony at Suza. On November 5, North American members put on a stunning music and dance performance as an artistic offering for the 50th Anniversary Ceremony at Suza. About 100 members from our region sang, danced, played music, and arranged props for these fantastic performances.
It all started about two years ago when World Headquarters, starting to prepare for the 50th Anniversary Ceremony, invited North America to develop a performance concept that would represent America. Fortunately, in Los Angeles, an orchestra had just been formed among youth group members with the wish to perform at Suza for the 40th anniversary of the Sukyo Mahikari Youth Group in 2010. In consultation with staff, a member who is an accomplished
musician and musicologist submitted the music of Rodeo by Aaron Copland, which was originally written as a ballet score. She presented the concept of doing a dance to this music with a live orchestra. The person in charge of the artistic offerings to God for the 50th anniversary was very excited about our choice and decided to place North America's presentation as the grand finale for the artistic presentation, which included cultural performances by members representing six continents. It was the first time all of the regions ever joined in an artistic presentation. There were performers of indigenous music and dance from Australia, cultural dances from India, Africa and Latin America, and soaring operatic voices from Europe.
The music specialist who originated the idea served as artistic director, and together with a member who is a professional dancer and choreographer, and who has choreographed shows for Disney theme parks and the closing ceremony of the Nagano Olympics, they organized and trained the more than 100 NAR members who participated. Parts that were suitable for everyone's interest and skills were determined, and rehearsal DVDs were sent to members outside California so they could
practice. Some members took up dance or took up musical instruments for the first time and practiced hard for to join this historic event. Other members took the lead as art director, stage manager, makeup, costumes, librarians, and prop manager. All the members worked long and hard, and even when they traveled to Japan, they did not join the other tours on their Light-seeing pilgrimages; they stayed in a hotel an hour from Takayama with the other regions' performing members and they rehearsed and rehearsed with great discipline.
Sitting in the audience on November 5th, the ceremony guests were treated to highly trained, joyous performances that were a joy to behold. When North America took the stage, the music of Rodeo opened with great fanfare to welcome the performers on-stage carrying props that evoked a covered wagon, with moving wheels. The audience cheered and applauded as the music continued, the sound images reminiscent of the joy inherent in being
pioneers overcoming hardships by uniting together and looking forward to the bright future ahead.
Directly following the presentation, the performers went outside to the stairs in front of Suza to have their picture taken. Then, unexpectedly and to everyone's great joy, it was announced that Oshienushisama would shake the hand of each one of the more than 600 performers from six continents. One member remarked that he felt this was a sign of how much Oshienushisama wants to encourage the overseas members, and he was
filled with awe and deep appreciation, and the desire to meet Oshienushisama's expectations.
That night, it was very moving for the members from all regions who performed artistic presentations to celebrate in a big party of unification at the hotel.
What every participant remembers most is the feeling of great joy, not just in the performance but in the unity that was forged, a unity and harmony they realize is at the core of the joy of service in everything we do. Many of the participants say that they learned so much about themselves throughout the entire process.
We are very proud of our members for their great devotion and their great beauty as children of God who poured their hearts and souls into representing the North American Region in the artistic performances for the historic 50th Anniversary Ceremony of Sukyo Mahikari at Suza!

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