To compliment the articles in this issue that pay tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival we put a call out to the community in the hope of capturing memories and perspectives from previous participants in the Festival. Thanks to all who sent in their stories. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room to print all the wonderful responses. We know you’ll enjoy these reflections on the Festival as much as we do.
Nitya V., Soloist with the Shri Krupa Dance Company
Fondest Memory: As a performer, the Festival truly manifests what it seeks to attempt, a celebration of cultures and people. The energy and support from all the dancers, musicians, stage crew, backstage helpers, etc. made it a soul brimming experience with genuine appreciation of our offerings to the dance world.
Patricia Kennelly, Teacher and Director of the Kennelly School of Irish Dancing
(Years Participated: about 5)
Funny Story: At the first festival they brought all of the performers back on stage at the end of the show to “zig zag” in one line across the stage. The Irish dancers were so reserved in comparison to the other ethnic dance forms, and we were so out of our comfort zone that we laughed all the way through the end (mostly at ourselves). I have a video reminding me of it! It’s a lovely memory and brings back fond reminders of the other dancers in the show as well.
Alicia Adame, Flamenco Dancer
(Years Participated: 3)
Fondest Memory: What I liked best about performing in the Ethnic Dance Festival was the camaraderie backstage with the other performers. It was exciting to see the others in their costumes, talk to them about their dance forms, share our perspectives, and realize how alike we really all are, in spite of the different languages, costumes, and movement styles.
Martin A. David, Judge
(Years Participated: More than 15)
Fondest Memory: The camaraderie among the judges and the lively discussions of the groups and their presentations were always exciting. I was a dance critic in Los Angeles the first time I was invited to be a judge. I was highly impressed by the way the director (at that time it was Bruce Davis) had everything organized and how well the performers and judges were treated. I was invited back year after year and saw how it all grew under Bruce’s and later Bob Allen’s direction. It is all a fond memory.
Funny Story: An image that never leaves me is a lead dancer suddenly igniting a small fire pot in the middle of the stage during an audition…..and the stage manager walking out, almost as if she were part of the act, with a fire extinguisher and snuffing the flames. It all happened so smoothly that it seemed choreographed.
Sally, Dancer with Ballet Afsaneh
(Years Participated: 1)
Fondest Memory: The opportunity to practice Greek and Flamenco in an Afghan wedding dress. To write a note in English to an indigenous dancer from Siberia and have it put it in her leather pouch around her neck right before she performed. Having an Uzbek woman translate Russian to English and vice versa so I could talk to the Siberian dancers.
Denise Pate Pearson, Dancer, Audition panelist, Staff member, and consultant for the festival over the past 25 years.
Fondest Memory: I had the pleasure of seeing Malonga Casquelourd’s company Fua Dia Congo, present an incredible performance in the 2003 25th Anniversary SF Ethnic Dance Festival. Malonga was tragically killed in a car accident a few days before their scheduled performance. The company chose to go forward with their performance, despite their incredible grief. The performance was sold out! The Bay Area community came out to support the company during this very difficult time. The company’s performances for the entire weekend were electrifying! All of Malonga’s children performed, and truly showed their amazing skill and training. I felt so proud to see such a cohesive and beautiful African dance and music ensemble. It was a spiritual experience!