WINNIPEG — A recent multicultural concert celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary and 60 years of friendship between Israel and Canada drew an audience of more than 500 people from diverse backgrounds.
Chinese Dragon (Wushu dancers) who opened the multi-cultural celebration of Israel. [Rhonda Spivak photo]
The second annual concert, on Oct. 21 at the Pantages Theatre in Winnipeg, was organized by the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable [MISVR], which is led, and was founded, by provincial minister of water stewardship, Christine Melnick.
The concert opened with a spectacular performance by the Wushu Manitoba Training Centre, which performed a Chinese dance that is reserved for special occasions. Audience members were clearly delighted by the costumed dancers who joined together to form a four-foot dragon that walked through the audience.
This group was followed by an aboriginal group, the Walking Wolf Dancers, which performed a dance, associated with promoting healing and wholeness, with hula hoops. Many aboriginal supporters of the State of Israel, from places such as The Pas in northern Manitoba, attended the concert.
Following entertainment by the Rozmai Ukranian Dance Company, Rachel Manelson, director of the Tel Aviv Foundation for Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, told the crowd, “The horahs that Ashkenazi Jews dance were derived from Ukranian and Russian circle dances similar to the ones you just saw.”
Manelson arrived with the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, a former combat pilot and kibbutznik whose parents immigrated to Israel in the 1920s.
After saying he was “proud to be the mayor of a dynamic city that is tolerant and open,” Huldai joined Israeli singer Hila Eytan on stage as audience members were invited to come up to dance. Enthusiastic adults and teens from a variety of ethnic backgrounds filled the stage and danced a rousing round of horahs.
Following intermission, the audience was treated to a performance by the Caribbean, reggae and soca music group Rockalypso. Then student Cella Lao, a powerful singer who attends the city’s Balmoral Hall High School, performed two songs in Italian.
The outstanding troupe of drummers and dancers in Viva Capoeira performed a high-energy Brazilian dance, which was originally created by slaves to camouflage their then-illegal practice of martial arts by turning it into a dance.
Earl Barish, chairman of the executive board of B’nai Brith Canada, was presented with a plaque in honour of the 100th anniversary of the B’nai Brith Manitoba region.
The last performance was by the Sara Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, North America’s oldest and largest Israeli folk dance ensemble.
At the concert were Sharon Blady, MLA for Kirkfield Park; Jonathon Kroft, president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg; Mel Lazareck, president of the JNF-Prairie region; Marra Messinger, of the Canadian Committee for the Tel Aviv Foundation, and Pamela Rebello, executive director of the India School of Dance. They introduced the various performers.
Princess Adenrele Adeniran-Ogunsanya. from Lagos state, Nigeria, who attended the event while she happened to be in the city said, “It was a great evening. I have never been to Israel, but maybe I will go.”