Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Feb 08th
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

 

On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

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

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits