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Around the world through folk dance, including Julia De Burgos dance troupe

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Music, drums, and colorful costumes filled Wade Oval as the 21st International Folk Festival made its debut in open air on July 18, 2010. The annual celebration of cultures and their musical heritage usually takes place at Playhouse Square to raise funds for the International Service Center located at 1859 Prospect Ave., Cleveland.

Indian Folk Stick Dance

Our goal is to represent the diversity of cultures in the Cleveland area, said ISC Board President Ken Kovach. He said the shift to Wade Oval was to attract larger crowds and give more exposure to the festival and organization.

Sixteen groups from around the world paid homage to their heritage. Julia De Burgos folkloric dance troupe represented Puerto Rico and performed bomba and piena.

Other performances included: Croatian Tamburitzans, Japanese Taiko Drumming, Indian Stick Dancing, and Nepali folk dance. Local restaurants like Mi Pueblo and CAF TANDOOR and MIDDLE EAST CAF and PIAST catered to the international tastes.

Rashed Whatley enjoys the cultural festivals Cleveland summer presents and the Folk Festival is his favorite. He said while the temperature controlled Playhouse offers a relaxed place to sit he preferred the outside venue more. This provides for better socialization; you can walk around, talk to people, he said, adding the increase in performances is also a bonus.

Kovach said many groups were not present but is considering inclusion of the folk festival with Wade Oval Wednesday performances for more exposure.

Asim Datta, ISC Board member said the Center provides essential relocation for refugees in the region. One program includes urban gardening, allowing refugees to grow and sell produce. The center also provides immigration services, translators, ESL courses, and employment counseling.

This is a very valuable non-profit that is doing things for people who need help, said Datta.

Christina Terrell, ISC Board member, said with limited funding available for non-profits the organization is increasingly relying on sponsors. While the Folk Festival is free it generates some of the organizations funding.  She said the Board wanted a new direction for the festival, which would also give the organization more exposure.

Julia De Burgos Dance Troupe

An estimated 500 people attended, and Kovach said next years festival may start later in the evening to avoid the afternoon heat.

The 22nd International Folk Festival will be here in some form or another, he said. He encouraged the crowd to spread the word, Make sure you tell a friend and bring them with you next year, he said.

For more information on the center please visit: www.internationalservicescenter.org

Asim Datta, Dora Harper and Hugo Urizar

Japanese Taiko Drumming Cleveland Chapter JACL Mame Daiko Taiko Drumming Ensemble

Julia De Burgos: Bianca Flores

Members of the Croatian Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans

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