Categories: Entertainment

Have fun – eradicate prejudice

For the 19th year the annual Unity in Diversity Celebration Concert at the Arden Theatre will be filled with global colours and accents.

It could be said that the concert has its roots as a gathering of many cultures under one roof. But there is also a bigger vision at play.

“It’s to celebrate the diversity of humanity, but also that we are one and we have a lot in common,” says St. Albert Baha’i committee organizer Renie Zeitz.

In bringing together music and dance with a dash of comedy by returning host Josh Classen, it is more than a double or triple bill. It’s an opportunity to enjoy entertainment rooted in India, Portugal, the Philippines, China, Lagos and Canada.

New this year are poetry and the spoken word headlined by last-minute addition Titilope Sanugo.

A civil engineer by trade, Sanugo founded Rouge Poetry, a spoken word group, and won the 2011 Canadian Authors Association book prize for Down to Earth. A native of Lagos, she arrived in Canada with her parents and sisters and recently won a poetry contest to meet Maya Angelou.

“We popped her in because we felt she had so much to do with unity, diversity and immigrants,” says Zeitz.

Swinging into a completely different discipline is the Forestier Family. Television viewers might remember eight-year old Jack, a classically trained violinist who was a semi-finalist on Canada’s Got Talent.

“We wanted to include him because of diversity of age and he has such an engaging personality.”

Jack’s mother Marie (piano) and father Michel (classical guitar), both instructors at Grant MacEwan University, will accompany the young virtuosic “pied piper.”

The Ushu Kala Niketan dance group will reveal their mastery in classical East Indian dance and folkloric interpretations. The dance-heavy program also includes Edmonton Festival Ballet’s elegant blend of grace and athleticism, and the Caravela Portuguese Dance Group highlighted by dazzling footwork and vibrant costumes.

Moving to their own rhythm are the Command Sisters, Charlotte, 17 and Sarah, 14, from Stony Plain. Receiving recognition beyond our borders, the duo was signed by Scott Siman, Tim McGraw’s manager. They have also performed at Nashville’s Bluebird CafĂ©, the 2011 Folk Music Festival and the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival.

“They play mandolin, banjo, guitar and sing harmony. They’re extremely talented,” says Zeitz.

Returning is the Philippine Barangay Performing Arts Society to perform Tinikling, the traditional national dance. It’s named after Tikling, a bird that hops about in rice paddies dodging traps set by farmers.

“There is a complex choreography with striking and clicking of bamboo poles and the dancers weave and move between them.

A subset of the society is the energetic Manila Beat, a charismatic crew of hip hop dancers experimenting with new forms of street dance.

It was also just confirmed that the Edmonton Chinese Cultural and Heritage Arts Society will perform an all female Drum Dance and two other visually stunning dances – Shao Lin Sound and Blessings.

Zeitz would also like to remind the community that Mayor Nolan Crouse issued a proclamation for Unity in Diversity Week. This year it runs Nov. 3 to 9.

“We hope people will find ways of interacting with others of different cultures not just for one week, but for a whole year.”

For more information visit www.stalbertbahai.org.


19th Annual Unity in Diversity Celebration Concert
Saturday, Nov 3 at 7 p.m.
Arden Theatre
Tickets: $10.75 Call the Arden box office at 780-459-1542

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.