Edmonton Heritage Festival 2016

What a wonderful day we had performing this past Sunday! Our dancers loved entertaining the crowds of people passing through the vast grassy areas of Hawrelak Park during Edmonton's Heritage Festival for the 23rd year! From the age of 4 right up to the age of 17, our dancers performed 9 half hour long shows between 11:00am and 7:30pm. With a stage full of talented musicians and the wonderful Sherry (Steele) Tessier, who toured with Riverdance, singing beautifully at every show while our older girls performed to Rocky Road to Dublin it was pretty impressive!

We love to embrace our culture and you can feel the energy and pride from each dancer performing on stage. But for us, dancing at the Heritage Festival is not just about getting up on stage and performing a jig or two (although we love that too). It's about being with family and friends, and embracing and celebrating all of the wonderful cultures our world has to offer.

So we did just that! Well, our own version. We are so fortunate to have had our good friends, the Wajjo African Drummers, join us on stage, again this year.

After a few dances, with accompaniment by Merv on accordion, Billy on guitar and the Wajjo African Drummers, the Wajjos broke into a solo spot. Robert (who's smile is contagious), Stenny, Tony, Quasi and Joseph made beautiful rhythms as they beat their hands into their drums with an enthusiasm and passion that made even those "I don't dance" types start swaying their hips and clapping their hands. It definitely gave our dancers an extra bounce in their step!

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Cam, a Scottish piper, joined in! A Wajjo Ceili! Though the tunes may have varied, without doubt, Cam always finished his set with the widely known tune, When the Saints Go Marching In. Everyone sang and Merv made sure everyone learned the step and clap; a funky sway that anyone can do and once you join in, it makes you feel like you're a part of something bigger.

To top it all off, later in the show, Ehyram and Mariah popped out from behind the drummers and started African Dancing with such passion and style. They even got our well trained Irish dancers (known to dance with still upper bodies) to "loosen up" as they invited our Mattierin Muffins to join them on stage. With Merv, Billy, the Wajjo African Drummers and all of the dancers on stage, it was a beautiful moment of cultural fusion.

Although we may not have had all of the cultures from around the world on stage with us, we were privileged to have had the opportunity to meld together Irish, African and Scottish for a wonderful cultural experience we like to call Afro-Celt!

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