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Where in the World is EDE?

Japan! We’ve been back from Japan now for a few weeks and it’s time to put some thoughts down about this monumental trip for Eastside Dream Elite. Even now I still occasionally have to pinch myself and make sure it was all real. It was a dream of many years that finally came true.


The number one question I’ve gotten is “how did this all come about?” So let’s start at the beginning, back in 2017. I had a cheer mom in the fall of 2017, who had a friend, who had a friend, who was the assistant to the director/sponsor of the cheer squad for the Levanga Hokkaido cheer squad, Mr. Kazuto Hatakeyama. It was several times removed, but somehow Mr. Hatakeyama heard about our team. He was going to be in Bellevue on business and wanted to come see our team practice. I was happy to have him come, and he visited along with a small entourage and watched a Power Squad practice. Afterwards we chatted for a while and he showed me videos of his amazing Japanese squad. They didn’t do stunting and tumbling; only cheers and dance, so watching Power Squad was quite the experience for Mr. Hatakeyama. But the Levanga team (named the Passista Spirits) were incredible dancers and very highly trained.


He asked me if I was interested in coming to Japan with one of my cheerleaders and have her perform with their team. I said of course I would be interested, but never in a million years did I think it was a serious offer. A couple weeks later I got an email from one of his assistants asking about what dates would work to come to Japan. I ended up taking one of my coaches, Ariana Mafi, with me, and we headed to Sapporo in April 2018. Ariana performed with the Passista Spirits and I taught workshops. We had a wonderful time on that trip.

Mr. Hatakeyama told us we were welcome to bring the team over to perform, and we initially had that planned for April 2020. We all know what happened there…the world blew up with COVID-19 and we had to cancel the trip (we were very lucky to get all of our money back). It took us four years, but we were able to make the trip a reality once again!We participated in two Levanga professional basketball games. We did our own routine the first day for halftime (our Red Squad competition routine set to Japanese music—required because of music copyright issues). The fans just about lost their minds—they aren’t used to seeing stunting so every time we put someone in the air, the crowd did a huge collective gasp. The crowd reaction was really fun to hear.


The second day we performed a dance routine that we had choreographed. We had sent videos of the choreography to our Japanese counterparts and both the Passista Spirits and the Passista Fairies (their junior squad) performed the dance with us. The performance went incredibly well, especially considering we only had a few hours of practice time together.


On our first full day in Sapporo we practiced under the Sapporo TV Tower in the main Odori Park. We had a group of preschoolers and their teachers sit and watch us for quite a while along with several park goers. It was fun to provide them some unconventional entertainment.Having experienced our first international trip for EDE, we’re looking forward to doing more in the future. It’s a whole new world for Eastside Dream Elite!


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