Saturday, 13 August 2016

Folklorama Pavilion Reviews: Week One (Part Two)

This is part two of my 2016 Folklorama tour diary, in which I review the various pavilions I've visited during the two-week festival. You can check out part one, covering the week one Irish, Punjab, Serbian "Kolo", and Brazilian Pavilions here

Thursday, August 11th: Mexican, Chinese, Greek Pavilions

Our second day of Folklorama began with a visit to the Mexican Pavilion (375 York Avenue), consistently regarded as one of the best pavilions of the entire festival, and with good reason: not only did the pavilion organizers make a spacious ballroom in the RBC Convention Centre feel as intimate as a small gathering, they primarily featured international performers to create a truly world-class experience, and the dance numbers change from show to show and night to night.

The 6:45 pm show began with a performance by the U.S. group Mariachi Continental, whose trumpets, guitars, and violins immediately commanded the audience’s attention, soon joined by the lead singer of local band Mariachi Ghost. However, this was only a prelude to the phenomenal Ballet Folkl√≥rico Et Mazatleco del CETIS 127, which performed one showstopping number after another to the audience’s delight, culminating in a traditional wedding dance in which the bride was lifted into midair while standing on machete blades. Dazzling and unforgettable.

Afterwards, we headed further downtown to the Chinese Pavilion, housed on the second floor of the Dynasty Building, accessible by elevator and stairs. We were fortunate to attend the pavilion on the final night of shows by the Chengdu Art Theater ensemble based in Chengdu, located the provincial capital of the Sichuan province -- and which happens to be a sister city of Winnipeg. The performers immediately made a strong impression with their stunning costumes and focused yet lively showcase of musicians, dancers, and acrobats.

The Art Theater’s programme included a mesmerizing solo lute performance, jaw-dropping acrobatics I can only attempt to convey with words -- one young performer spun her entire body around her head, and I still can't figure out how she did it -- and a finale inspired by Sichuan opera in which two dancers rapidly changed masks to the amazement of the audience. The pavilion ambassadors and hosts were extremely friendly and welcoming and contributed to an outstanding experience overall.

Our final stop of the night was the Greek Pavilion at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (2255 Grant Avenue). A part of Folklorama since its inception forty-seven years ago, the Greek Pavilion has become a veritable institution and frequent destination for many longtime festivalgoers.

This year's show felt somewhat scaled-back from those of Folkloramas past, focusing on local talent, including the Kefi Folk Dancers of Manitoba and local bouzouki and guitar players, and a cultural display celebrating athletics and the Olympic Games in the Hellenic Cultural Centre connected to the church.

Given the bustling energy of the dining hall downstairs, the opportunity to visit St. Demetrios itself was much appreciated, and the church's deacon was on hand to answer questions about St. Demetrios' striking interior. The show itself ended with the perennially crowd-pleasing Zorba dance, concluding our own tour of pavilions that night on a high note. 

No comments:

Post a Comment