This weekend’s sixth annual Celebration of Cultural Diversity will bring different cultures together to celebrate in song and dance. By the end of Saturday’s festivities, it should be clear that Powell River’s arts and culture scene is quickly becoming a global affair.
The one-day event at Powell River Recreation Complex includes performances of Indian Bollywood dancing, Hungarian folk singing, Tla’amin Nation singing, Irish-themed dancing, a Chinese wedding celebration, a performance by One Voices Choir and much more.
Desi Dance member Coco Kao, also immigrant services coordinator at Powell River Immigrant Services, said the Bollywood dance group has performed at the event every year it has been held and has seen it grow since its humble beginnings.
“We saw maybe 200 or 300 people the first year and now we have thousands,” said Kao. “Last year was the first year we encouraged the audience to join us and we had a stage full of people. Everybody liked to try dancing.”
Featuring members from Japan, China and other provinces in Canada, Desi Dance was started by doctor Vidushi Mittra Melrose and has been a great way for Kao, who moved here from Taiwan in 2009, and the rest of the group to find a social circle through dance.
“Some of us were new to town and didn’t really have a social group to meet people, so when the group was started it brought us out of the house,” says Kao. “Most of us are busy moms and we don’t really have social time, so this brought people together and engaged us with the community.”
Kao said the group has learned a lot about Indian culture while practicing the Bollywood style of dance and performed in its own dance production last November, which was very well received.
In addition to a number of musical performances from different cultures, a new feature for this year’s Celebration of Cultural Diversity is a series of workshops where residents can participate in activities such as tai chi, a drumming circle, playing the ukulele and singing bowls, among others.
“People can come and try something new,” said Celebration of Cultural Diversity organizer Carma Sacree, “they don’t have to sign up in advance.”
One of the workshops is a multicultural event in of itself. Crystal Music, Art and Books owner Cindy Babyn, who moved from Ottawa to Texada Island in April, will present a musical display around three frosted quartz-crystal singing bowls.
Each pitched to different notes, the bowls are among 28 of Babyn’s instruments from different countries, including metal singing bowls from Nepal and Tibet, a Chinese wind gong and chimes from France.
Babyn said she will talk about the theory of sound healing and provide some information about the different instruments during her workshop, followed by a sound-healing demonstration that attendees of the festival can participate in.
“People will be invited to relax and listen to these beautiful instruments,” said Babyn. “They can decompress, de-stress and just enjoy the music.”
In addition to the workshops and musical performances, the event will feature different food vendors who will present cuisine from their home countries of Austria, China, Korea, Thailand, Syria, Hungary, Mexico, El Salvador and Vietnam.
Celebration of Cultural Diversity is presented by Powell River Employment Program Society, which administers the city’s immigrant services and diversity iniatitive, and sponsored by Powell Council for Arts, Culture and Heritage and City of Powell River.
Sacree said the annual event is a way to celebrate Powell River’s many different cultures.
“It’s so important,” said Sacree. “Multiculturalism is a way to really show the health of a community.”
Celebration of Cultural Diversity takes place at Powell River Recreation Complex on Saturday, November 26, from 10 am-3 pm. For more information, call 604.414.3630.