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

Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Local pharmacist shares concerns, recommendations before flu season hits

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

Oak Bay win first Bridgman Cup since 1973

Annual UVic event is an indicator for coming South Island finals, Island finals and provincials

‘Panda’ Goodlife runner searches for his head

Facebook post for help leads to ‘unconfirmed panda head sightings’

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Most Read