Sunday, June 21, 2015

Festival in the City - Ethnic Dance Festival

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Sign by roland luistro, on FlickrIt is summer time in the City and like many people, this season tend to be something I look forward to. Not because of the weather but because of the fairs and festivals that get celebrated in the city.

One of these festivals is the Ethnic Dance Festival. Mijo went to the Weekend 1 event and we went around the world for the entire two hours of live dancing and music.

The Ethnic Dance Festival is a dance festival held in June for a four-weekend series of dances at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Each weekend showcases different dance groups from different cultures and regions from around the world. The line up of dances changes each weekend so the dances are not the same each weekend.

Mijo and I have missed a couple of years of seeing the Ethnic Dance Festival. This year, Mijo made sure we get tickets to the Weekend 1 performances. If we had the budget and time, I would see all the four-weekend performances.

The location is picturesque because it is next to the Palace of Fine Arts. 
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Location 1 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Location 2

Mijo got three tickets - for me, for Bernadette and one for himself. We went to the Weekend 1 Saturday performance. We skipped lunch so we decided to get a snack of fruits, breads, cheese, smoked salmon and California Merlot.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Food 

The theatre was still closed so we stayed around the lobby.  The lobby was beautifully decorated with posters of solo dancers in their beautiful costumes. There was a small stage and a couple of booths selling festival souvenirs. While we were snacking, the a group called The Academy of Danse Libre started performing a series of period dancing. I could tell from their outfit that the dance was from the early 20th century. The knowledge I gained from watching Downtown Abbey. The dancing and the music made me imagine what life was like in America during that period.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Sign

The lineup for the Weekend 1 consisted of Hiyas Philippine Folk Dance Company (rural Philippines), Chinese Performing Arts of America (China), Harsanari (West Java, Indonesia), Starchild Dance (Harlem, US),  Ensambles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco (Mexico), Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers (Scotland), Jikelele Dance Theatre (South Africa), Shabnam Shirvani (Middle East and US),
Academy of Hawaiian Arts (Hawai'i). They all performed impeccably and each performance took me places. All the performances were super high quality. Since we were sitting near the front, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the costumes were.

My favorite in that weekend, of course, were the Hiyas Philippine Folk Dance Company not only because the dance is from the Philippines but also brought me back home. They performed a medley dance depicting the Philippine countryside. They danced using coconut shells as part of the costume. The coconuts also doubled as a musical instruments. There was a dance on top of a bench, a dance with  candles and glass placed on the women's heads to display great balancing skills, and lastly, the Tinikling or the bamboo dance. In a lot of ways, the dances were suspenseful. I was afraid one of the dancers might miss the jump while dancing on the bench, or one of the glasses fall from their heads, or a dancer trip and fall because of the moving bamboo poles. Thank God it was uneventful. They also had live accompaniment which gave something extra special.

The Jikelele Dance Theatre gave a very energetic performance. The Academy of Hawaiian Arts was also a favorite. The live accompaniment and singing was superb. Taking pictures was prohibited so I took a shot during the end when all the group were on stage and no longer performing.
  San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Finale

After the festival, we met a few of the performers at the theatre lobby. There was a party atmosphere where the performers were saying hello to both the visitors and their co-performers.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Chinese soldier dancers San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - Chinese dancers 
  San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival - After party

All the performances took us to different parts of the world. Sometimes, I get lost in each performance I forget that the groups are from the Bay Area. 

Thank you Wold Arts West and the Ethnic Dance Festival performers, sponsors and volunteers for another weekend of magical and entertaining performances.


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