START THE FESTIVAL SEASON WITH US!
CO-PRESENTED WITH THE JAPAN FOUNDATION
The National Cherry Blossom Festival’s signature Opening Ceremony is an artistic celebration of the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC, and an annual tribute to the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States. This unique, one-time-only performance will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries.
In 2024, acclaimed New York-based composer and instrumentalist Kaoru Watanabe will bring his signature skill of infusing Japanese culture with disparate styles to create an engrossing performance of music that is melodic, authentic, and engaging.
Choreographer and dancer Jo Kanamori, general artistic director of Noism Company Niigata, will bring his abundant oversees experience to direct and choreograph a piece that will debut at the Opening Ceremony, and feature dancers from DC’s own The Washington Ballet Company.
And lastly, fresh off his nationwide tour of one hundred different venues in Japan, celebrating his 20th anniversary as a performer, Naotaro Moriyama will take to the Warner Theatre stage with his unique vocalization that has been praised by all generations of music lovers.
A Look Back at the 2023 Opening Ceremony
2024 Opening CeremoNY pERFORMERS
Choreographer, Dancer. General Artistic director of Noism Company Niigata. Moved to Europe when he was 17 years old, he studied under Maurice Béjart and others. He began creating while studying at Rudra Béjart School Lausanne and made his debut as choreographer at the age of 20 while enrolled in NDT2. After ten years of playing an active part as dancer and choreographer for several dance companies in Europe, he returned to Japan. In April 2004, he was appointed as artistic director of the Dance Division of RYUTOPIA, and established Noism, Japan’s first residential dance company of a public theater. He has won many awards, including the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award for Artistic Encouragement, and the Niigata Nippo Culture Award both in 2008, and the 60th Mainichi Art Award. He received the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2021. www.jokanamori.com
The Washington Ballet
Discover The Washington Ballet (TWB), where a rich history of artistic excellence meets a steadfast commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. TWB supports a mission to bring the joy and artistry of dance to the heart of the nation’s capital and into the streets of the DC community. As ambassadors of classical and contemporary ballet, TWB not only present performances of the highest caliber but also nurture the next generation of dancers through its distinguished school (The Washington School of Ballet). Beyond the stage and studio, the organizations extend its embrace to the entire community, fostering a love for dance through extensive education programs and meaningful community engagement initiatives. Follow The Washington Ballet on a journey where passion, precision, and purpose converge to create a dance experience that transcends boundaries and captivates the soul.
Acclaimed New York-based composer and instrumentalist Kaoru Watanabe’s melodic, authentic, and engaging music focuses on points of connection: the joints between Western jazz and Eastern traditional, Japanese theater and political action, the ancient and the all-too-contemporary. Born into a musical family, Watanabe began training at a young age, eventually studying jazz at the Manhattan School of Music, before devoting a decade overseas as the first American performer and artistic director of the world-renowned taiko drum performance group KODO. While in Japan, Watanabe worked with elite Japanese artists, such as National Living Treasures Bando Tamasaburo and Tosha Meisho, and calligrapher Kakinuma Koji, and studied, performed, and practiced traditional folk dance and song, tea-ceremony, Kyogen opera, and agriculture. These experiences profoundly influence Watanabe’s practice to this day. Since returning to New York, his signature skill of infusing Japanese culture with disparate styles has made him a much-in-demand collaborator. Watanabe’s impressive list of creative works across different media reflects his ever-curious ear and wandering eye. He has collaborated with iconic, groundbreaking artists such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Laurie Anderson, Jason Moran, Rhiannon Giddens, flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena, and Alicia Hall Moran. He was an advisor and featured musician on Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated soundtrack for Isle of Dogs and a guest on Silkroad’s Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home. He has been commissioned to compose and arrange for such ensembles as Sydney Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Silkroad. His works have been performed in Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Kabukiza, Théâtre du Châtelet, the Sydney Opera House, and venues across five continents.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Parking is limited in the District, especially during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s highly recommended that visitors use DC’s alternative transportation modes like Capital Bikeshare, DC Streetcar, Scooters, DC Circulator, Metrobus, and Metrorail to make the most of their experience.
The show will be live-streamed on the Festival YouTube Channel.
Trigger Warning: Please be advised that this production may contain strobe lighting effects, sudden loud noises, and the use of a confetti cannon
Bag Policy: The venue will only allow clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC tote bags no larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ and/or small clutch bags (4.5″x 6.5″)
Additional venue details are available on the Warner Theatre website.
a SNEAK PEEK OF PAST PERFORMANCES!
Parking is limited in the District, especially during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s highly recommended that visitors use DC’s alternative transportation modes like Capital Bikeshare, DC Streetcar, Scooters, DC Circulator, Metrobus, and Metrorail to make the most of their experience. Skip the traffic and parking by planning your trip with goDCgo’s Getting to the Blossoms Guide.
We recommend booking convenient and affordable parking in advance through SpotHero, the nation's leading parking reservations app.
To reserve your parking spot, visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony SpotHero Parking Page and book a spot with rates up to 50% off drive-up.