Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A World of Dance

AE_dance_crystalThe second annual Ethnic Dance Festival brings rhythms from around the globe to Santa Cruz
Other than American Indians, the United States really doesn’t have much of a history in the world of ethnic dancing. Immigrants from abroad brought the rhythm and music from their native lands to our shores and created myriad hybrids that Americans claim as their own—but truth be told, they are merely the coalescence of ethnic dances from across the globe. For this reason, many people choose to adopt the dance of an ethnicity other than their own in a fervid attempt to gain connection to a movement larger than themselves.

The topic of why dancers choose a dance that is not the same origin as themselves so intrigued UC Santa Cruz student and Project Manager of Santa Cruz Dance Hana Campbell-Cyr that it became the AE_dance_balinesetopic of her Community Studies senior project. “I focused on Santa Cruz and why people here are attracted to ethnic arts other than their own,” Campbell-Cyr says. “What I set out to do with this paper was look at Santa Cruz, because for its size it has a pretty eclectic community of ethnic dancers.” Her goal was to find out the various reasons that people adopt dances from other cultures and determine what benefits they get from it and what draws them to it. Her research found that it was more than simply exercise or a penchant for the particular dance style. “It’s about fostering cultural connections and spirituality,” she explains. “It’s a way for people to connect to a different culture. You may not even speak the same language as someone, but you can connect through dance. People are craving a spiritual connection and they can find it through ethnic dance.” A common theme that Campbell-Cyr discovered is that many dancers feel that American culture is restricting. “People are looking for connections and dance is an amazing communal activity. It can form new sub communities and connections. I am so excited that I am involved in the local dance community,” she says.

Ready to explore ethnic dance for yourself? This year’s Ethnic Dance Festival brings together scores of performers showcasing the dances of more than 12 countries as diverse as Japan, Brazil, AE_dance_odissiArgentina, India and Mexico. The free event—which includes performances, dance lessons, music and ethnic food—extends over two days. Last year the festival drew hundreds of eager participants, and is expected to create quite a stir once again. “People really loved it,” says Abra Allan, founder and director of Santa Cruz Dance. “It’s a great experience and free to the public.”

An interesting aspect of the festival is that many of the dancers participating do not necessarily hail from the countries their dance represents. “We live in a society and culture that doesn’t have a lot of history,” says Crystal Silmi, a local belly dancer who teaches at Motion Pacific in Santa Cruz and at Dance Synergy in Aptos. “In general, people from the U.S. are looking for a sense of belonging, and a sense of something to belong to. By nature we tend to congregate toward being in a group or tribe where we are trying to find identity. People want to find an identity, even if it’s not their own,” she explains. Silmi, whose heritage is Middle Eastern, lived in India for a year and did her senior thesis on temple dancers there. “I had an almost kinesthetic cultural type of connection with the music and the movement, and now I’ve been doing belly dance for 10 years,” she shares.

AE_dance_tamarIf you have ever pondered learning a new dance for yourself, the Ethnic Dance Festival is the perfect time to tap into your own connection to another culture. The festivities include a full day of dance performances on Saturday, followed by dance lessons on Sunday which will allow participants to choose the style or country they are drawn to and go from there. “As a liberal minded place, it’s important to get an idea of these different arts and societies from around the world,” Silmi says. “It can make us think in different ways and enrich our perspective.”

Campbell-Cyr hopes that the Ethnic Dance Festival will be a boon to the local dance community by giving exposure to local dancers. “The festival helps them promote themselves and show the value of their work,” she says. “I hope the event will really open people’s eyes to the variety of ethnic dance in our community. I think that the ethnic dance festival can really break down cultural barriers and strengthen our community as a whole.”


The Ethnic Dance Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26. Saturday will feature free performances from 2 to 5 p.m. in Mission Plaza Park, 144 School Rd., Santa Cruz. Sunday will feature free dance classes from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the 418 Project. 418 Front St., Santa Cruz. For more information visit santacruzdance.com.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Crop Circles

How the confusion over GMOs is undermining the organic movement

 

Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of March 6

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Water Street Grill

YOLO gets reincarnated

 

What would make Santa Cruz better?

A lot more outdoor activities such as outdoor movies and concerts, food and art festivals, and more multicultural activites. Emmanuel Cole, Santa Cruz, Bicycle Industry Product Developer

 

Thomas Fogarty Winery

When looking for a bottle of something to have with dinner, Gewürztraminer 2012 is not the first wine to come to mind. Given the popularity of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir—to name but a few—Gewürztraminer sits low on the totem pole.

 

So Long, Louie’s

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour