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July 2005

Dance Exercise

The Ai-da Aida dance exercise (NHK)

More and more Japanese kids are moving their bodies to a swinging tempo while singing feel-good melodies. Singing Ai-da Aida Ai-da Aida in unison, they jump, dodge, and twist to the rhythm. "My body just starts to move whenever I hear the music," says one. "It's fun because we all get to dance together," says another. Dance-like exercise is growing in popularity.

At Kanna Public Elementary School in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, 23 members of a dance club formed in April danced over and over again to Ai-da Aida. According to club advisor Takahashi Hiroyuki, "The song is easy to remember, so the students take to it right away." The fifth graders in the club are planning on performing at the school's sports festival on October 1.

Dancer and choreographer Kondo Ryohei created the Ai-da Aida dance moves. Every week from Monday through Friday in the morning and late afternoon, a group of children dance away cheerfully on the TV program Karada de Asobo (Let's Move Our Bodies), which is shown on the NHK Education channel.

Choreographer Kondo also appears on the show with his family in a unique segment called "Kondo-san-chi no Taiso" (Exercise with the Kondo Family), in which he, his wife, and 2-year-old daughter (and sometimes even his parents and pet dog Duke) perform original exercises in the living room of their home.

Another similar TV program is called Kenko Kinniku Taiso (Healthy Muscle Training). On this popular show, Sato Hiromichi sings and exercises together with children. Up to March 2005 Sato presented an exercise slot for 12 years on the children's program Okaa-san to Issho (Together with Mom).

The programs Ai-da Aida, Kondo-san-chi no Taiso, and Kenko Kinniku Taiso all began in April 2005. Many schools have since incorporated the exercises from the programs into gym classes and sports festivals. It looks like the shows will continue to gain more fans among children in Japan.

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