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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Cultures share dance, music at Civic event

1/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

The Akron Civic Theatre’s Festival of Nations will open again this year with the Celtic Eagle Pipe Band.
Photo courtesy of the Akron Civic Theatre
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Performers at the Akron Civic Theatre’s Festival of Nations will bring their cultural arts to the stage Feb. 2.

The fourth annual event will feature Greek, German, Indian, Irish and Hawaiian dancers, Celtic bagpipers and African drummers.

The doors will open at 6 p.m., when attendees can sample and buy international foods and take part in interactive activities to learn about other cultures. Performances will start at 7 p.m.

“We could not be more pleased with the way Festival of Nations has developed,” said Howard Parr, executive director of the Civic. “The foundation of the Civic’s programming is community-based, multi-generational and family-friendly programs. The Festival of Nations hits all of those marks. It’s a great event.”

Among the groups performing this year for the first time are the Elinopoula Greek Dancers from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron.

The troupe’s director, Andrea Utrep, of Uniontown, said the junior troupe, including performers ages 5 to 11, and senior group, ages 12 to 18, will perform a total of five dances that originated from different parts of Greece.

“It’s a great opportunity for the dancers to perform at the Civic Theatre,” she said. “They will not only represent our church; they will be representing several different island dances.”

She added that one of the dances to be performed is from the area of Kalamata, in southern Greece, and is considered the traditional wedding dance.

The dancers, who number about 35, will wear costumes that are representative of the Greek culture in general, Utrep said.

Valerie Renner, media and public relations director for the Civic, said the event will open again this year with the Celtic Eagle Pipe Band.

“Last year they had over 20 bagpipers come through the entrance of Civic and up onto the stage,” she said.

Also returning are the O’Hare Irish Dancers, from Akron, and the German Family Society Tanzgruppe Dancers, from Mogadore. New this year are Tam Tam Magic, an Algerian African drumming group.

Shri Kalaa Mandir, an Indian dance group from Strongsville, also will be part of the event.

“They actually were with us the first festival and were a crowd favorite,” Renner said. “I know people will be excited to see them again. They are absolutely beautiful.”

Another new act this year is Ohana Aloha, a Polynesian-Hawaiian dance group from Hawaii that is based in North Royalton.

“They are beautiful, and everything they wear is handmade for them,” Renner said.

Along with performances, attendees can enjoy activities such as Chinese calligraphy from The University of Akron’s Confucius Institute and a demonstration on djembe drums by Steelin Hearts, a steel drum duo. 

International foods — from Italy, Asia and India — will be available, as well as Southern American selections like barbecue and yams, Renner said.

Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door for ages 13 and older, $5 for children 3-12 and free for children 2 and younger. Tickets are available at the Civic Box Office, by calling 330-253-2488 or online at www.akroncivic.com, or from TicketMaster at 800-745-3000.

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