Folklorama Tales

Team Folklorama: A Volunteer Tale

There are some early childhood experiences that shape your life forever. For Dani Chase, it was her family’s passion for culture and their activeness in the community. While most toddlers were learning how to walk, she was being taught the old dance of her people; she was two and a half years old the first time she danced on a Folklorama stage.

Dani comes by her love of her heritage and the arts honestly; you could almost say her enthusiasm towards them are genetic. Growing up, her family was inextricably intertwined with their community; her sister was a dancer and her great aunt taught the Scandia Fun Folk Dancers group, a performing group at the Scandinavian Pavilion. Folklorama has been a part of her life for longer than she can remember.

Dani has always loved inviting others to take part in and experience her culture, and decided she wanted to reach even more people. She held the position of Youth Ambassador for the Scandinavian Pavilion twice, teaching pavilion guests all about the similarities and differences throughout the 5 regions represented.

When she heard about Team Folklorama, a platform for youth to keep in touch with each other throughout the year, while continuing their connection with the community, she didn’t hesitate to join, eager to be involved year-round.

“I knew right away it was something I wanted to do… not only because Folklorama has been such an influential part of my life, but also because it has given me incredible opportunities and experiences.”

Dani is creative and innovative, and finds the Youth Council to be an incredible outlet for her to share her ideas for the future of Folklorama and ensure there are opportunities to keep the youth involved. She enjoys going to different events and Cultural Connections meet ups, where she can continue to spread positivity and share her passion for culture with others – just like her family did with her. 

When asked if she would recommend other youth to join Team Folklorama, Dani said “Go for it! Foklorama offers so many incredible opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in the community. It’s also an awesome way to make life long friends. So be open to meeting people and trying new things, whether it’s food or a dance – you will definitely enjoy it!”

Are you interested in joining a network of youth? To get involved with Team Folklorama, contact Rachelle Quilapio at rquilapio@folklorama.ca or(204) 982-6213 today!


 Bola Oriyomi and Ariya Afrika Cultural Dancers: A Teachings Tale

Sharing the Nigerian culture has always been important to Bola Oriyomi, founder of the Ariya Afrika Cultural Dancers group. When the initial group she was a part of dissolved in the early nineties, she wasn’t deterred from celebrating her heritage. Bola continued to dance, sing, and tell short stories about home - but this time, she was alone. Eventually her own children and their cousins joined in, accompanying her through dance and sharing their instrumental talents.

Bola’s dedication to educating audiences about the rich culture of Africa persisted, and in 1994, the Ariya Afrika Cultural Dancers group was born. Over time, young adults in her church community joined to make the Yoruba traditional culture more elaborate; currently the group is comprised of people whose ages range from 11 to 40 years old.

Viewers can expect to be educated by way of storytelling, gospel, traditional singing, drumming, dancing and play-acting when lucky enough to be in the audience! The group has been featured in performances with the African Communities of Manitoba and at the Africa Caribbean Pavilion during the annual Folklorama Festival.

 “Folklorama means a lot to me and Ariya Afrika. It broadens our horizon on cultural preservation and presentation of our own culture and others. It drives professionalism in us, impacting cultural positivity into our youth or younger generation globally.” – Bola Oriyomi

When asked why the group chose to become a member of Folklorama, they expressed their love for sharing the beautiful Yoruba culture and their appreciation for the opportunities Folklorama has given them to do just that.

“Our society at large, especially our younger generation needs to know the positivity in their own cultural background and of others. Folklorama creates the platform for cultural sharing with respect and love without traveling to different countries of the world.” – Bola Oriyomi

If you would like to join Folklorama family as a performing artist, contact Christian at chidago-mazzei@folklorama.ca or call him at 204-982-6226.


 SYNERGY Dance Production: A Talent Tale

SYNERGY Dance Production was founded by Sheila Bughao and Vanessa Gil in 2005, and started out as a small hip-hop dance group in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

As the group grew over the years, SYNERGY became well-versed in translating their inspired concepts into unique and colourful dance routines. It wasn’t long until they began performing at a variety of events and dance competitions across Canada.

In 2007 and 2009, the group won 1st place at the “In the Zone” dance competition in Winnipeg and took home 1st place in the 2008 “Move Street” dance competition in Vancouver, British Columbia. They have also been featured as the opening act for a number of concerts of Filipino celebrities, like Apo Hiking Society, Vhong Navarro, Vina Morales, Roselle Nava and performed on the show Wowowin.

SYNERGY Dance Production has always pushed boundaries, which led the group to venture into mastering a variety of dance styles. Their unwavering commitment and enthusiasm to always reach for more are the driving forces behind why the group has successfully grown to learn and love the art and technique of cultural dances originating from several parts of Asia. They now specialize in a large variety of Philippine Cultural dances. 

In June 2019, SYNERGY took their first steps onto the Fringe Festival stage here in Winnipeg, performing their famous “Bamboo” dances from Malaysia, India and the Philippines.

Today, SYNERGY is a non-profit organization comprised of fifteen volunteers who have dedicated themselves to preserving culture and providing entertainment through a diverse range of dance and song.

“As traditional Philippine Dances later became the main focus for Synergy, we knew that Folklorama would be a perfect opportunity to showcase their talent, skill, energy and passion”, states Sheila Bughao, Founder, Synergy Dance Production. “For many years Folklorama has been a great event which gave many people a chance to show their cultural diversity while embracing the diversity of all cultures.”

Book Synergy and be transported on a trip across the ocean! Contact Christian today at chidalgo-mazzei@folklorama.ca.


 Vickar Automotive Group – Caring About Community: A Sponsor Tale

Vickar Automotive Group has been a leader in Winnipeg’s community for over 40 years, with a focus on giving back to those that they serve. The dealerships have been built around community-orientated individuals who give selflessly of their time to improve where they live.

Vickar’s involvement with Folklorama began many years ago at the pavilion level. The organization sponsored a few of the long running pavilions such as the Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion, the Israel Pavilion – Shalom Square, the Russian Pavilion and the First Nations Pavilion.

As the Vickar community grew and expanded over the years, so did their commitment to the public. With Vickar’s diverse workforce and charitable work in a few different ethnic communities, the evolution of the partnership just seemed like the right next step forward. Vickar Automotive Group has been a major contributor and sponsor of the Folklorama Festival for just over four years now!

“It was a true hand-in-glove fit to engage with an organization that celebrates Winnipeg’s ethnicity and diversity” – Larry Vickar, Vickar Automotive Group, President 

This mutual partnership showcases how communities thrive when members work together to achieve a greater understanding of one another, embrace all people and celebrate differences. With support from Vickar, the Festival is able to continue its mission of spreading positivity, inclusivity and cultural awareness in all corners of the city.

Vickar team members are also positively impacted by their employer’s community centric approach. When asked what their favourite part of being involved with the Folklorama Festival is, the team members came back with “excellent entertainment, the enthusiastic volunteers, and food! Food! Food!”  

“Supporting Folklorama provides the opportunity for a company to reach a wide audience while aligning their brand with an internationally-recognized event that celebrates multiculturalism. When becoming a sponsor, companies should also consider benefits to their employees through volunteerism.” Larry Vickar, Vickar Automotive Group, President 

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Folklorama, contact Briar Boyko at bboyko@folklorama.ca or 204-982-6234.


 2019 Mark and Dorothy Scholarship Recipient: A Volunteer Tale

A few years ago, a grade twelve Metis student was searching for potential post-secondary scholarships to apply for. Originally from Dauphin, Manitoba, she was hoping for assistance with the living expenses and residence fees that coincide with relocating to a new city to further your education. After having the application forwarded to her, she applied for the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence, but did not receive it.

Since 2002, in cohesion with the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, Folklorama has presented the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence, an annual award of distinction for ethno-cultural preservation.

In 2019, now living in Winnipeg and in her second year of post-secondary education at the University of Manitoba, the same young woman reapplied, feeling she was a candidate who strongly aligned with the scholarship’s criteria.

The word volunteer is synonymous with hardworking, dedicated, passionate, and selfless - all characteristics that Sarah Shuttleworth embodies, making her the successful candidate of the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence in 2019.

Sarah is currently studying Psychology, and has been involved in sharing her culture through the arts for years; she has been a Ukrainian dancer for 13, and a Metis jigger/square dancer for an even longer stretch of time - an impressive 15 years! Sarah is also a member of the Asham Stompers, a prominent dance group determined to re-capture and preserve the history of the Metis people through traditional dancing, with a goal of bringing hope to the children of Aboriginal Communities by taking a piece of their community to the world stage.

When Sarah is not studying or celebrating her culture through dance, you can find her volunteering at various community organizations such as the community food bank, Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E) Program, and the Dauphin Friendship Centre.

Despite her youthful age and growing up over 3 hours away from Winnipeg, Sarah has been volunteering at the Folklorama Festival for a number of years. Her debut in the Festival took place when she was in middle school, when her Ukrainian dance group was asked to perform at a pavilion. Then, in 2018, when the Asham Stompers decided to host the Metis Pavilion, Sarah became a well-versed performer. She now volunteers her time dancing in three shows a night for the entire week.

“Because I am a performer at Folklorama, I always look forward to performing for the audiences at the Metis Pavilion each night. The overall experience is unbelievable, and each show makes me proud to be Metis”.

Sarah is a deserving recipient of the scholarship; her cultural pride and sincere dedication to giving back to the community, tied in with her academic achievements, reflect so well the characteristics of those who the scholarship honours.

“When I received the news that I had won the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence, I was extremely grateful. Cultural preservation has always had a special place in my heart, so receiving such a remarkable award named after exceptional people left me feeling honoured.”

Sarah has big plans for her undoubtedly bright future; after she obtains her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, she hopes to attend law school, as she aspires to become a successful lawyer in her home community. She strives to continue with her involvement in the community and sharing her cultures through dance and working closely with youth.

Are you interested in applying for the Mark & Dorothy Danzker Scholarship for Excellence? Click here.


Wushu Manitoba Training Centre: A Teachings Tale

If you’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing a traditional Chinese performance before, it’s a given that the Lion Dance would have made a lasting impression.

Wushu Manitoba Training Centre (WMTC) is Manitoba's premier Wushu, Dragon & Lion Acrobatics demonstration & competition team. Since their inception in 2004, the Wushu Manitoba Training Centre has leveraged their Lion Dance team as an opportunity to exhibit traditional Chinese culture, and to earn extra income on the side to help fund their school expenses.

Since merging with the Yau King Moon Kung Fu Institute under Grandmaster Richard Van in February of 2006, the WMTC has performed for a myriad of clients; from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as in international competitions like the Return of the Lion Kings (2006 Winnipeg, MB)

“Performing gives us a means to expand to more opportunities and to associate with other cultural groups,” states Ranie Laoag, WMTC member. “It is fun and we enjoy performing. We hope to impart some traditional Chinese culture, visually, musically and emotionally.”

With over 22 years of cultural, athletic, competitive and coaching experience, the WMTC brings to their clients one of the most electrifying and colorful performances that, without fail, brings everyone to their feet.

Wushu is the national sport of the People's Republic of China and is the Chinese term for martial arts. Wushu routines are displayed through combative movements and acrobatics, and can be performed solo, paired, or in groups, either barehanded or equipped with traditional Chinese weapons. The Dragon & Lion acrobats were initially performed strictly for Emperors and royalty, but have since evolved into an important Chinese mythical and traditional symbol that is performed for all audiences around the world. The acrobatics are displayed by a colourful and life-like Chinese Dragon that requires up to 25 people to maneuver it and a Chinese Southern Lion that requires 2 man teams, either free style or on 9 foot poles, accompanied by the thunderous roar of the traditional Chinese drums and instruments. These performances portray Chinese culture, legends, myths and elite skills passed down from many generations. The Dragon & Lion acrobatics are believed to bring good luck, prosperity and happiness to special events and celebrations, corporate functions and cultural events.

“We wanted to become a part of Folklorama because it is a larger multicultural organization,” says Laoag. “To be a part of showcasing and educating people about the Chinese culture is special, and to expand our clientele is wonderful. Our favourite moment was performing in Peru in 2009.”

If you would like to join Folklorama family as a performing artist, contact Christian at chidago-mazzei@folklorama.ca or call him at 204-982-6226.


Bringing the Tropics to Manitoba - Clyde Heerah and the Paradize Band: A Talent Tale

Nothing brightens a cold, Winnipeg winter day quite like the sweet sounds of steel pan drums, and for Clyde Heerah and the Paradize Band, playing them is a passion that warms their soul.

In the mid-forties, with the absence of conventional musical instruments, a gentleman by the name of Spree created the first steel drum instrument by using biscuit drums from England and later on was switched to the oil drums because the island’s richness in oil.

At an early age, Heerah emigrated from the island of Trinidad and Tobago. After school on weekends Heerah and some of his classmates would get together and have a jam session. It was the beginning of playing music in Winnipeg. The Paradize Band of Winnipeg was formed.

The band was playing at venues here and there when they heard that Folklorama was starting up a local performer agency.

“Someone had suggested that I enquire about this new Folklorama organization”, states Heerah. “Since my band had a cultural Caribbean sound performing calypso, reggae, latin, and top 40 songs plus originals, I thought it would be a perfect fit.”

Since 1996, the Paradize Band of Winnipeg has become an integral member of Folklorama, performing at Canada Day, receptions, and teaching in schools and daycares across the city.

“Clyde is truly one of the pioneers’; he’s a steel pan extraordinaire and a staple in the African/Caribbean community”, states Christian Hidalgo-Mazzel, Agency Producer, Folklorama. “He’s devoted to the art form. He engages people in the history of his music. With his warm personality and great smile, you see his passion as he plays. He’s always eager to help and a true pleasure to work with.”

Being a part of Folklorama has meant a lot to Clyde and his band in many ways.

“Folklorama introduced us to many new and varied venues and scenarios for performances”, expresses Heerah. “Interaction with many different peoples, cultures, places, foods of the world, dances, and celebrations has been inspiring. It has been, and still is, a great learning experience to be a part of Folklorama.”

Heerah sums up the rewarding feeling of sharing culture through performing arts perfectly.

“I like sharing my talent because it gives me a feeling of accomplishment with people especially when they show a desire to learn about it. Their smiles and interest in their questions to get more information is quite gratifying.”

If you would like to join Folklorama family as a performing artist, contact Christian at chidago-mazzei@folklorama.ca or call him at 204-982-6226.


 Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries – Over 25 Years Strong: A Sponsor Tale

On those warm summer evenings when Festival attendees sit down to an exclusive cultural beverage that reminds them of home, or they get a taste of that place they’ve never experienced, but have always wanted to visit, they can raise their glasses to our friends at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is a Crown corporation that operates throughout the province, with a focus on enriching the lives of people, communities, and businesses. Their profits go to the Province of Manitoba’s general revenue and support priority programming in areas like health care, education, social and community services.

When asked why they first became involved with Folklorama, they expressed their goal was to provide support and enhance the Festival by helping pavilion’s source unique cultural beverages from around the globe.

Not only have they been supporters for over 25 years, but they are also Folklorama fans!

The cultural displays, music and dance performances are always highlights of Folklorama. Although, we must say the food takes the cake (pun intended)!” – Bev Mehmel, Director, Corporate Responsibility

Over the years, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has supported Folklorama in a variety of ways; they are the proud sponsors of the Festival and Pavilion Entertainment; they are recognized as the title sponsor of the Casinos of Winnipeg Folklorama Kick-Off event at Assiniboine Park in July; they donated a prize to The Great Manitoba Social during our 50th edition, and have supported our volunteer network.

“Folklorama provides our corporation and more importantly, our employee volunteers, the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of Manitobans and visitors, and to experience and celebrate the diverse cultures that make up the fabric of our province.”  - Shirley Campbell, Manager, Development & Sponsorships

The two organization’s visions complement each other well; working together has been mutually beneficial, and allows both groups to enrich the lives of Manitobans through the celebration of diversity, arts and culture.

“Supporting Folklorama provides the opportunity for a company to reach a wide audience while aligning their brand with an internationally-recognized event that celebrates multiculturalism. When becoming a sponsor, companies should also consider benefits to their employees through volunteerism.” – Shirley Campbell, Manager, Development & Sponsorships

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Folklorama, contact Briar Boyko at bboyko@folklorama.ca or 204-982-6234.


 Labour of Love: A Volunteer Tale

The year was 1998; the Folklorama Festival had been running for 28 years by then, and Krista agreed to help out a friend in need by volunteering as a tour bus coordinator at the Croatian Pavilion Zagreb. As she stood outside of Garden City Collegiate waiting for her shift to begin, unbeknownst to her, her future husband drove by and noticed her standing there.

It was hours later when Ivan, pavilion coordinator, and Krista were officially introduced by a friend. They shook hands, smiled at one another, and have been inseparable ever since. Ivan later told Krista that he knew it was meant to be the second he saw her.

It is now 2020 and to this day, they both still recall every detail of that first meeting – one of those dreamlike, defining moments that change us forever.

Over the years, the couple and their three kids have devotedly visited the multicultural festival. Even when they lived in Alberta, every August they found themselves in Manitoba, taking the time to give back to the community that brought them love, family, and their happily ever after.

They truly are a Folklorama family; the Winnipeg couple now run the pavilion that united them all those years ago, Ivan as pavilion coordinator and Krista as kitchen coordinator. Their kids perform at the pavilion as a way to stay grounded in their roots, two dancing on stage and one playing in the band.
Krista remarks that they love visiting other pavilions and walking the halls of their own, remembering how their family and life came to be.

"Without Folklorama there would be no Magdic family". – Krista Magdic


Do you have a Folklorama story to share? Email cwright@folklorama.ca today.