41st Annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival: A celebration of culture, dance and music

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Catch the largest and longest-running event in North America in its last weekend, July 13 and 14

NEARLY 500 Northern California artists presenting dance and music from more than 17 world cultures spanning four continents performed onstage during the first weekend of the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (SFEDF) last July 6 and 7.    One of the largest, longest-running and most comprehensive dance and music events in Northern California, the SFEDF showcases the finest artists from all over the Bay Area. 

“It is a great honor to be presenting this year’s talented dancers and musicians on our Festival stage,” said the Festival’s Executive Director, Julie Mushet. “They are the heart and soul of the Bay Area and their breathtaking artistry is both deeply inspiring and uplifting. For two weeks this summer, Zellerbach Hall will become a beacon for the beauty and power of our diversity, showcasing the finest world dance and music artists from all over the Bay Area. On one stage, audiences will experience dance and music from throughout the world and the Festival has become known as a world music festival as much as it is a world dance festival!”

This year’s festival include Bay Area-based groups and artists representing dance and music from China, Egypt, India, Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Republic of Congo, Tahiti, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the U.S., Venezuela, and West Africa.  Representing the Philippines is Parangal Dance Company, who will be onstage this weekend performing music and dance inspired by the rich culture and tradition of the Yakan.

The festival’s 2019 Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Ron Wallace, Artistic Director of Dunsmuir Scottish Dancers, who has taught Scottish dance in the Bay Area and around the world for five decades, and RJ Muna, whose extraordinary photos of festival artists have become a hallmark of the festival since 2006. This year’s Community Leadership Award will be presented to David Lei, for his exemplary work with countless arts and community-based organizations in San Francisco.

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Artistic Directors Māhealani Uchiyama, Patrick Makuakāne, and Latanya D. Tigner. | Photo by RJ Muna

Artistic Directors Mahealani Uchiyama, Patrick Makuakane, and Latanya D. Tigner believe that dance is a tool that creates spaces and opportunities for people to witness commonalities and respect each other’s differences. 

Aside from Parangal Dance Company, other performances this weekend will include: 

  Ballet Folklórico Nube de Oro

  Jackeline Rago

  Tara Catherine Pandeya + Ali Paris

  Guru Shradha + Antara Asthaayi Dance + Navia Dance Academy


  Te Mana O Te Ra

  Awon Ohun Omnira

  Feng Ye Dance Studio

  Diamano Coura West African Dance Company

Festival artists are selected by annual auditions. For the 2019 Festival, 70 dance companies and soloists auditioned in November 2018 before the Festival Co-Artistic Directors, a panel of dance experts, and an audience of thousands of dance enthusiasts and Bay Area families. The Artistic Directors made the final selection of the Festival lineup after consulting with the panelists, who are noted for their dance backgrounds, cultural expertise, and reputations in the field. This year’s panelists were Blanche Brown, Shambhavi Dandekar, Malia DeFelice, Smita Singh, Dr. Victor Torres, Ron Wallace, and Shannon Yip.

Catch the last weekend of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival this Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14; at UC Berkeley’s Zellerback Hall at 3 p.m.  Tickets are priced $28-$78.  For tickets and more information, visit www.sfethnicdancefestival.org.

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