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SHO-JO-JI DANCERS

The SHO-JO-JI DANCERS are a JAPANESE dance group consisting of young 2nd- through 4th-generation American girls of Japanese ancestry. The group was organized in 1955 under the sponsorship of the Japanese American Citizens League, Cleveland Branch, in order to preserve the traditional dances of Japan. Its first performance was on 27 Oct. 1956 at the Children's Festival of the Chrysanthemum in Rm. 36 of the Cleveland Public Library's main branch. The library's director contacted Mrs. Vi Takahashi, a professional dancer from Japan then residing in Cleveland, and asked her to organize a children's dance group for the festival. Takahashi assembled 7 young girls, aged 7 to 9, and instructed them in the delicate Japanese dances. The Sho-Jo-Jis' first performance was such a success that they received many invitations to perform at other city functions. They performed regularly at the festival of the CLEVELAND FOLK ARTS ASSN. as well as in a large number of civic, educational, service, and veterans' organization functions. Vi Takahashi stepped down as the group's director and instructor after only 1 year of service, to be succeeded by Mrs. Peggy Tangi and then by Mrs. Sally Taketa. Although the group remained in existence in 1993, recruiting had become increasingly difficult because of the decrease in Japanese families living in Cleveland. As a result, the group's membership was opened to children of mixed, as well as all-Japanese ancestry.