Close to 30 people were introduced to other cultures by way of a free multicultural dance workshop at the Quality Inn on Saturday afternoon.
“We embrace diversity and celebrate diversity, and one of the mediums that we do it through is dance,” said Natasha Bhogal, president of co-host Multicultural Community of Yellowknife. “Dance has been our primary medium, but we have other aspects to the work we do. So this is one way to introduce people to other cultures, to create a sense of community, especially for newcomers coming in.”
Louis Gaetan, former president of Multicultural Community of Yellowknife is the main organizer of the project. L’Association Franco-culturelle de Yellowknife also got involved.
Bhogal explained that the workshops also provide an opportunity for people to build friendships, perform and provide instruction.
All instructors are volunteers who share parts of their culture. The goal is to have a group of dancers who can perform at the Multicultural Dance Gala, a major event that usually happens each November. However, due to wildfire evacuations, this year’s gala has been postponed to February 2024. Tickets are expected to go on sale at the beginning of December.
The non-profit workshops have been running for about two years, with some interruptions due to the pandemic. The Multicultural Community of Yellowknife does not have an executive director and relies on grant funding. When funding is available, they try to provide free workshops.
“I was a participant of the performance team last year and I just want to support my members. I love soca. It’s a very dynamic and very joyful dance,” said Michelle Chui, one of the workshop participants.
Born in Hong Kong, Chui was a member of the performance team last year and continues to support the workshops due to her passion soca, a dynamic and joyful dance form originating in the Caribbean.
The workshops not only allowed her to learn about different cultures but also helped her improve her French language skills through interaction with francophone team members.
Despite having high social anxiety, Chui took a leap of faith and started dancing during her graduate studies. She initially began with urban dance and hip-hop and was part of her university’s performance team. After moving to Yellowknife, she found opportunities to dance again through the Multicultural Dance Gala.
She plans to join the New Year’s Eve dance performance and is excited about the various dance opportunities in Yellowknife. She encourages others to take the chance and open themselves up to the joy of dancing and cultural exchange.