The Sini Balkani Bulgarian dance group is among many to be performing over two days in the second annual Folktoria festival in Victoria’s Centennial Square, June 8 and 9. Facebook

Folk Festival Society promotes value of sharing international cultures with others

Second annual Folktoria brings ethnic dance, foods to Centennial Square, June 8 and 9

Nada Dosenovic remembers vividly the day she walked into Willows elementary 18 years ago and heard familiar music coming from the other side of the gymnasium doors.

Inside, members of the Saanich International Folk Dancers club were practising. They were not only singing in Serbian, one of Dosenovic’s native languages, they were dancing the traditional setnja (Shet-nyah), also a cultural staple in her life in the former Yugoslavia.

“After everything that had been happening in my homeland, it was very emotional for me,” she says. “The tears came down my face and my daughter, who was with me and was attending Willows school, asked, ‘what’s wrong mom?’”

Being instantly reconnected to her ethnic roots through singing and dancing went a long way toward making this relatively recent immigrant to Canada, at the time, feel at home. She went on to become president of the dance club and is a founding member of the Greater Victoria Folk Festival Society, which is staging its second annual Folktoria, June 8 and 9 in Centennial Square.

The sharing of folk culture through dance, music and food, and the promotion of multicultural understanding in the community is what this festival is all about, says Docenovic, the society’s vice-president. It’s essentially a reimagining of the former Folkfest – but in its simpler days back in the Square when it was solely about celebrating Victoria’s ethnic diversity.

“Folktoria is something we are working on to bring [that feeling] back,” she says. “And doing it in kind, sharing your culture and sharing your traditions – giving without thought of getting something back other than the joy that comes with the sharing.”

RELATED: Rebirth of downtown cultural festival coming to Victoria in July

Saanich International Folk Dancers, which mostly performs traditional Baltic folk material, is one of 30 organizations participating in the festival, from dance groups to cultural associations and ethnic food vendors.

With free admission to the Square and the shows, it’s a similar format to the old Folkfest, says Sonia Grewal, society president and the founder/president of the Shan-e-Punjab Indian dance company, which is also performing.

“It’s important to bring forward inclusivity and diversity in the festival,” she says. “I remember Folkfest and how I loved it and looked forward to going to it and later, to dancing in it. We’re trying to revive that original spirit, but also to bring in some new people on the committee with different perspectives. It’s a new beginning, and a way to honour multiculturalism.”

WATCH: GVFFS International Dance Party

The festival opens at noon on the Saturday with blessings from Lekwungen elders and a performance by the Songhees Lekwungen Dancers. The regular schedule that day opens with the Tradewinds Hawaiian dance group and ends with the Folclore Alegre de Victoria Portuguese group. A deejayed International Dance Party winds up the night from 8:40 to 9 p.m.

Representatives from the Greater Victoria Public Library will be on hand from noon to 5 p.m. June 8, while the Royal BC Museum will participate from noon to 4 p.m. that day.

Sunday’s schedule runs from noon to 8 p.m. and sees a similarly wide range of dance and musical performance groups, from Scottish to Polynesian, First Nations to Polish.

Ethnic food vendors signed on include Sizzling Tandoor Restaurant (Indian), Cook N Pan Deli (Polish), Victoria Italian Assistance Centre (Da Vinci Centre), Kabab Me Crazy (Syrian) and the Songhees Seafood & Steam food truck (First Nations).

*****

Volunteers are also still needed for Folktoria. To indicate your interest, email folkfestivalinfo@gmail.com. You can also follow Folktoria on Facebook.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Tradewinds dance group performs at last year’s inaugural Folktoria festival.

Just Posted

Retooled Oak Bay hoops team starts strong

‘Not the tallest,’ but Oak Bay are off to big start

Saanich seeks contractors for Shelbourne Street upgrade project

The three-phase project is expected to begin in 2020

UPDATED: Royal Jubilee gets 15 more patient beds for Greater Victoria end-of-life care

New patient beds in hospice and acute palliative care to be in place by spring 2020

Cannabis cultivation: Former North Saanich chicken farm goes into pot

North Saanich would join a small, growing number of communities with marijuana growing

Sidney has highest walk-in clinic wait times in the country: report

Several Vancouver Island facilities wait times notably poor

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

One man dead after car crash in Nanaimo

One person died, another was injured in the accident which happened Wednesday on Nanaimo Lakes Road

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Most Read