S.F. Ethnic Dance Festival Makes Its Opera House Debut

Paul Kotapish on July 5, 2017
Glenisha Alexander and Metzi Henriquez with the Fogo Na Roupa Performing Company | Credit: RJ Muna

World Arts West presents the 39th annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival the weekends of July 8–9 and July 15–16. This year the event moves to the War Memorial Opera House, where the plush new digs will set off the lively spectacle of ethnic costumes and dance traditions on stage — and in the aisles.

Zakir Hussein | Credit: Jim McGuire

The beloved celebration of cultural diversity through dance and music is one of the largest events of its kind anywhere, and this year’s festival includes outstanding performances by Bay Area troupes representing Brazil, Central Europe, China, Congo, Cuba, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Tahiti, West Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Several notable musicians will be joining the festivities this year, including percussionist John Santos with the Alayo Dance Company  and tabla master Zakir Hussain with Antonia Minnecola. Soprano Maya Kherani and countertenor Cortez Mitchell will accompany Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu.

Performers on Saturday, July 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 9 at 2 p.m. include:

  • The Academy of Danse Libre (European Social Dances)
  • De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association (Afro-Peruvian)
  • Fogo Na Roupa Performing Company (Brazilian Folkloric)
  • John Santos Sextet and the Alayo Dance Company (Cuban Contemporary Folkloric)
  • Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble (Filipino Folkloric)
  • Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu (Hawaiian Hula)
  • San Francisco Awakko Ren (Japanese Traditional)
  • Zakir Hussain with Antonia Minnecola (Indian Kathak).

Preshow performances by Leung’s White Crane Lion & Dragon Dance Association (Chinese Lion Dance) and Vinic-Kay (La Gente y El Canto) (Mexican Folkloric) begin an hour before each concert.

San Francisco Awakko Ren’s Genki Watanabe and Kristu Tsukida | Credit: RJ Muna

Performers on Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m. include:

  • Ballet Afsaneh (Persian-Iranian Contemporary)
  • Ballet Folklórico México Danza (Mexican Folkloric)
  • Bitezo Bia Kongo (Congolese Traditional)
  • Gurus of Dance, an Aditya Patel Company (Indian Bollywood)
  • Māhealani Uchiyama (Zimbabwean Mbira)
  • Natya at Berkeley (Indian Bharatanatyam)
  • Te Mana O Te Ra (Tahitian Oteʻa)
  • Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco and La Tania (Spanish Flamenco)
  • YaoYong Dance (Chinese Folkloric)
  • Zena Carlota (West African Kora)

Preshow performances by Gamelan Sekar Jaya (Balinese Jegog) and Zena Carlota (West African Kora) begin one hour before each concert.

Tickets range from $25 to $45, with a discount for children at the Sunday matinee performances. More details and tickets available at City Box Office.

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