Dance gala becomes celebration of ‘a supportive city’
“It’s a time to gather, have great meals and great conversations, and learn from others. Events like this make us stronger and build better relationships.”
Sira Diabira served as host for the Multicultural Community of Yellowknife’s annual Multicultural Dance Gala in Yellowknife on Saturday, featuring food from around the world alongside cultural performances, music and dancing.
“You get to see how beautiful everyone is in their cultural attire,” said Diabira, a longtime member of the organization.
She said 320 guests attended the event, with tickets selling out within two days of going on sale. Diabira takes that as a reminder of the North’s supportive nature.
“When I moved here there was so much support for me. I needed help with things like finding somewhere to live,” Diabira told Cabin Radio.
“So we gathered, we figured things out, and we danced. We talked about multiculturalism. We’re all from different parts of the world, and that’s what tonight is about: dancing, supporting each other and celebrating our differences.
“Even though we’re from different countries, on the inside, we’re all the same.”
Saturday’s performances began with a prayer song from the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, followed by a drum dance led by the city’s mayor, Rebecca Alty.
Twelve further performances featured 55 dancers ranging in age from 10 to 70, according to organizers. Included on the list were dances from Mongolia, Africa, Ukraine, and Nepal.
Alisha Gori, a belly dancer, said performing at Saturday’s gala gave her the opportunity to share her culture and passion with other Yellowknifers.
“I’m half Latina, so I was raised with music and with moving from a very young age. It’s just in my blood,” she said.
“I think we’re very lucky in Yellowknife that if you have a dream to perform, or to dance, or to invest in the arts in general, you can.
“In big cities, there’s not a lot of opportunity for that unless you have a lot of training. I love that I can explore my passion in a more serious way, which I don’t think anywhere else in the world would allow.”
Carl Aussenegg, a dancer with the Latin Fusion ensemble, said the gala celebrates a cultural diversity in Yellowknife of which many are unaware.
“It really celebrates Yellowknife as a city and a place where people come from not only all over Canada, but all over the world,” he said.
“Yellowknife often feels like a small town, but it’s much more ethnically and culturally diverse than people think when they think about a small town. And we really get to see that tonight.”