WINNIPEG's multicultural festival Folklorama was created as a one-time event to celebrate Manitoba's Centennial in 1970. The festival proved so successful that it has continued each year, expanding from one week in August to 2 weeks since 1988. It has garnered multiple awards and, with its mandate to foster cultural understanding and celebrate diversity, it now hosts more than 40 pavilions and attracts approximately a half-million spectators.
Folklorama begins with a public kickoff event held at Winnipeg's The Forks, a designated National HISTORIC SITE of Canada. The festival is organized as eclectic pavilions throughout the city in venues including schools, community halls and sports arenas. Twenty pavilions open the first week and a second set launches the next. In addition to cultural displays, ethnic cuisine, souvenirs and handicrafts from each country, pavilions offer nightly entertainment showcasing folk dance and music performed by local community groups and invited guest artists from other countries.
Main Dance Categories
Dance is organized into 3 main categories: an "authentic" group that reconstructs folk dance the way it has been passed down through the ages; an "elaborated" group that adapts elements of folklore, including music and costumes, for entertainment; and a "stylized" group inspired by traditional folklore but given a new creative interpretation for contemporary audiences.
The DOTC (Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council) First Nations Pavilion established in 2009 is an example of authentic dance. The Walking Wolf Singers and Dancers perform traditional powwow dances, including fancy shawl, jingle dress, grass and hoop dances, and an unusual chicken dance that mimics the mating prairie chicken.
Stylized dance such as that offered by Winnipeg's Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble is seen at the Israel Pavilion-Shalom Square. The troupe is one of North America's oldest Israeli folk dance ensembles and has toured extensively throughout Canada, the US, Mexico and Israel.
L'Ensemble folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge presents elaborated dance including traditional step dances, or "gigues," and original choreography representing the cultures of Acadia, Québec and Manitoba. Featured at the Pavillon Canadien-Français, it is among many unique dance troupes performing at this dynamic festival.
Folklorama has developed 3 programs to further promote cultural awareness: "Folklorama Talent" sponsors multicultural performers at events and conventions throughout the year, "Folklorama Teachings" features storytellers and performers who present shows at schools and daycares, and "Folklorama Travel" brings tour groups and individuals to the festival each summer and to the city throughout the year.
One of the largest and most successful multicultural festivals in the world, Folklorama has evolved into an internationally significant event that both celebrates and helps preserve Canada's rich cultural heritage.