The groups, Zikr Dance Ensemble and Watoto Children's Choir, come from vastly different backgrounds and offer widely different entertainment. Yet both groups aim to offer performances with global influences and deep spiritual and religious inspirations.
The Zikr Dance Ensemble, based in
The ensemble, made up of professional ballet dancers, uses "transcendent dance rituals" from many different ancient world cultures, including sacred dance movements created by George Gurdjieff, an early 20th century spiritual teacher who included dance movement in his teachings as a way to help his students focus their minds.
Zikr's artistic director,
After serving as main choreographer of the
"I wanted to get back to what meant most to me ... the more spiritual, metaphysical aspects of dance, and wanted to completely focus on that," he said.
Since starting in 2009, the company has explored topics such as sacred spaces and other ways diverse spiritual traditions "express creativity and wonder through dance," he said.
The company has ballet-trained dancers and often included guest artists from the
For audiences who prefer a more music-centered performance, the Watoto Children's Choir will make stops in
The choir is made up of orphaned Ugandan children whose families have died because of regional violence, AIDS or other illnesses. Their free choir performances help raise money for the Watoto project, which helps give health and educational support.
Watoto was founded at a Pentecostal church in
Despite going through tragedy and illness, the traveling choir groups aim to spread a message of hope and Christian inspiration. The choirs typically perform in churches or spiritual community centers around the world, according to a news release about the choir.
To underscore their upbeat performances, the children wear bright traditional outfits, perform energetic dances and sing songs with lyrics such as "I am not forgotten, God knows my name."
By performing in
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