Friday, April 21, 2017

Festivals Around the World

Where To Go May 2017

Festivals are more than a day of celebration. They are living museums of culture and traditions. There are no better ways to understand a country than the events they proudly celebrate. Each one is uniquely expressed through music, film, food, or dance. Here is a list of upcoming festivals that we’d like to tell you about.  

Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) 

Location: Palais des Festivals, Cannes, Paris
Dates: Mid-to late May
All eyes turn to Cannes. France’s center of the cinematic universe, where more than 30,000 producers, distributors, directors, publicists and stars descend to buy, sell or promote more than 2000 films.

Festival of the Snakes (Processione dei Serpari)

Location: Cocullo, Italy
Date: First Thursday in May
One of Italy’s strangest festivals, the Processione dei Serpari is celebrated in the tiny Abruzzan
hamlet of Cocullo by adorning a statue of St Domenic, the protector against snake bites. People from all around the globe participate and embellish the statue with jewels, banknotes and live snakes. The statue is then carried through the village, leaving the villagers supposedly immune from snake bites for another year.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Location: Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
Dates: Late April or early May
Unique to the Hong Kong, the Bun Festival is renowned for its rocket-shaped towers standing up to over 60 feet high and covered with sacred rolls. At midnight on the public holiday designated for Buddha’s birthday, competitors scramble up the towers, grabbing a bun for good luck. The higher the bun, the greater the fortune, so everyone tries to reach the top.

Land Diving (Naghol)

Location: Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
Dates: Each Saturday through April and May
When the first yam crop emerges in early April on this South Pacific island of Pentecost, the southern islanders begin to build high wooden towers. Once completed, village men and boys dive from these rickety structures with only two vines attached to their ankles to break their fall. Yes, Naghol was the inspiration for bungee jumping.

For a complete list of festivals, click here

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dance as Cultural Art


Physical Movement: Cultural Art

Dance, unlike other cultural art forms does not leave behind clearly identifiable artifacts.  Unlike clothing or jewelry, the evolution cannot always be easily traced. Even so, dance as art has continues to evolve.  The 9000-year-old dancing images discovered in India’s Bhimbetka Rock Shelters paintings or the Egyptian tomb paintings of dancers dating back to 3300 B.C., tell us that this has long been an important form of expression.
What can such physical movements tell us?

Waiting in Seoul Walking in Tokyo

According to Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, Jennifer Meek Satoh, co-director of the upcoming Waiting in Seoul Walking in Tokyo spring dance concert can show us emotions that go beyond the limits of words and intellectual comprehension.

“Dance allows people to feel more viscerally rather than just hearing words and having their brain interpret it in certain ways.” It can offer those who see it an opportunity to experience the complexity of emotions the dancer portrays.

Waiting in Seoul Walking in Tokyo is an example of that.  This collaborative, contemporary dance piece, for example, is designed to take audiences on a journey through the streets of Seoul, Tokyo and San Francisco with movement, imagery, cityscape sounds and original music.

Satoh who co-directs and co-choreographs this performance with Christine Cali explained that in this production, some of the piece’s carefully choreographed dance movements suggest the sense of awkwardness or hesitancy that a foreigner may feel in a new country. In this case, it is the experience of a traveler from Seoul on the streets of San Francisco. Satoh suggests that such moves can reveal the ways in which someone might hold back to make sure others are not offended.

Perhaps such subtleties made visual can help us understand what ‘strangers”, including immigrants, face. Such an experience could inform us that beneath cultural differences we are all human. Emotions are a shared experience that can take us beyond pre-set attitudes and beliefs.


Here are some details about this dance concert which is a collaboration with Global Dance Stamp:

Location: Sonoma State University, Evert B. Person Theatre, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928.

Run Dates: April 21-29, 2017. Opening performance includes a post-show discussion.
April 27 is "Friends and Family Night”: Special $5 rate for SSU faculty, staff, alumni and students; $5 for general, seniors and visiting students.

Tickets: $15-$17 plus parking fee.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Early Easter Customs

Shifts in Easter Folklore
Anglo-Saxon King Alfred

Folklore is living lore. While the primary message folktales, fairytales, and legends delivers, such as understandings about what is acceptable behavior, the actual bearer of that message can be adapted to fit particular situations and settings.

Take the trickster, for example, this character can be a deity, human, animal or some combination of each. It is very clever, possesses special knowledge and can play tricks that allow for unconventional behavior. In Navajo culture, the trickster is a coyote who can fool humans and other deities. For the ancient Greeks, it was Hermes, the patron of thieves and viewed as the inventor of lying.

Changes also occurred in holiday customs and traditions. One of the most obvious examples of this is the evolution of the Christian Easter from earlier Anglo-Saxon spring celebrations.

Spring Fertility Goddess

According to the English Heritage Blog,  Easter itself was originally a spring feast honoring the Saxon spring fertility goddess Eostre, in the season of Eosturmonath. For the Saxons who came from the Netherlands the day was called Osterday (Easter Day) and for the Germans who also came to Britain after the Roman soldiers left around 410 AD, it was known as Ostern.

Interestingly, linguistic research indicates that the root of these names is the direction East, which refers to the fact the sun rises directly in the east at the spring equinox.

Over time the focus of the folklore surrounding the festivities shifted. Christians adapted the traditions to reflect a new set of beliefs. Easter then became about the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ at Easter. It has been noted that during the Tudor period in England, while ancient lore still said that the sun danced with joy at the revival of the season, it came to link the rising sun with Christ.

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