Unity through the expressive art form of dance is drawing performers to Nanaimo for the Infringing Dance Festival.
The festival, Dancing in the Belly of the Dragon, is being held in conjunction with the 2013 Dragon Boat Festival and runs Thursday to Sunday (July 4-7) in Maffeo Sutton Park.
Paul Wyse-Seward, a member of the Snuneymuxw Dance Group, said the festival is about different cultures uniting under one roof, which is important in Nanaimo and in places around the world.
“This is seeing different cultures coming together and the unity of people coming together,” he said. “It is huge especially in this day and age because racism is still going on.”
The Snuneymuxw Dance Group has members ranging in ages from three to 63 years old. During the festival opening ceremonies the group will perform a welcome song, sometimes referred to as a paddle song. Wyse-Seward said the song was created by a Snuneymuxw First Nation man for his daughter who was marrying outside of the nation before colonization. When she or any other member of the nation returned they sang the song to let everyone know it was one of their own people coming back to the village.
The group will also perform a prayer and celebration song.
Anusha Fernando, of the Shakti Dance Company, said she is ‘thrilled’ to be part of the event.
Fernando will perform two pieces of south Indian classical dance: Bhumi Shloka and Tungtarangini. Bhumi Shloka is about the Earth – a woman draped in oceans who nourishes all life. Tungtarangini is the story of the birth of Ganga.
“This form is very old,” she said, adding she still tries to ensure it speaks to today’s generations. “I want to dance from my own place and not be stuck in a box that isn’t relevant to people today.”
The event features traditional dances from various cultures including Spain, Brazil and more. The opening night celebration, 6-7 p.m., features Snuneymuxw First Nations dancers and Le La La Dancers from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation. Tickets are $10.
Drum ’n Dance: VooDoo Dave’s Tribal Rhythms is Friday at 7:30 p.m. and costs $10. Tickets for the closing ceremony, which includes a performance by Zogma, a francophone dance company, and dinner, are $25. For tickets and schedule please go to www.crimsoncoastdance.org.