News Column

Cultural Festival showcases local performers

August 3, 2014

By Pat Shaver, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Aug. 03--NORMAL -- Diversity of all sorts -- cloggers, hip hop dancers, Japanese sword experts, a Philippines dance troupe and belly dancers -- was front and center Saturday at the Cultural Festival.

About 1,000 people attended the dance performances as part of a daylong celebration at Illinois State University'sBone Student Center. The festival, in its 35th year, included entertainment, children's activities and information about organizations and businesses.

The festival showcases cultural diversity and performing arts groups, said Tony Jones, the program coordinator.

"This event provides an awareness of what's going on in the community," he said."I think, sometimes, people take for granted the diversity we have."

Other entertainment included a jump rope group, R&B performance and ballet dancers.

"You get a wide variety of experiences you may not always get. Plus, it is a fun family event," said Sharon Francis, a volunteer at the festival and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority of college graduates and professionals.

Francis, of Normal, has attended the festival for about 20 years.

"I think it gives people the opportunity to show their talents and experience different aspects of diversity," she said. "And it feels good for the participants, who may not have any other avenue to show their talents."

Roxanne Ledford, director of Fata Dance of Bloomington, danced on stage with about 20 children and adults.

The summer dance program teaches various styles of dance to children and adults. Their festival performance included jazz and hip hop dance.

"Everybody has a different culture and a different definition of culture. We are all different and I think we can all get along and share because we are a diverse community," Ledford said.

Nikki Gibson of Normal has attended the festival for 14 years. This year, she brought her daughters, Blythe, 3, and Lake, 2.

"This is important just to broaden our minds and perspective of what Bloomington-Normal has to offer. There really is something for everyone," Gibson said.

The festival was held at Miller Park in Bloomington until it moved last year to U.S. Cellular Coliseum and then to ISU.


(c)2014 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)

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Source: Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)

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