Folklorama is now over; 43 pavilions this year gave us, the audience, a mere glimpse of the array of vast communities that make up the core of this city’s growing population.
Among the dynamic roster of pavilions being presented this year, viewers had the opportunity to embark on the energetic journey of Brazilian culture at the Alô! Brasil Pavilion and the Viva Brazil Pavilion.
Like in all pavilions, the Brazilian ones have welcomed artists and performers of many different backgrounds. Yara Vasconcelos, for one, brings that diversity to Folklorama.
She was born in Angola from what she initially thought were Indigenous-Brazilian origins. However, she later found out her ancestry was Nepalese and Angolan. She describes this finding as “new found love of culture”.
Vasconcelos became a dancer and choreographer early in life. She moved with her family to Toronto from Angola after the Angolan Civil War. She now owns a dance company in Toronto (The Samba Connection) where she teaches Samba and other Brazilian dances.
Alongside her dance career, Vasconcelos hosts The Singing Contest broadcast on CityTV and Rogers as well as her own talk show, Yara & Você on Nossa TV Canada. She is also a visual artist whose work is distributed across Canada, the US and Europe.
Vasconcelos has performed in Folkorama for the past ten years. When she was first invited to dance in the Viva Brazil Pavilion, she could not believe she had to perform 32 shows per week.
At the same time, local musicians at the pavilion did not expect her Samba energy along with the visually striking costumes. To Vasconcelos, dancing Samba is more than just moving the body.”The movement of the hands tell a story together with the music,” she says, as an example.
Throughout her years as a Samba dancer, and Samba Queen in Toronto’s Brazilian Carnival Ball held every year, Vasconcelos has performed many facets of the Carnival dances which have helped to enrich the viewer as to what the dancing and costumes represent.
Throughout the years, Folklorama audiences have been able to absorb the colourful, lively and spirited songs and dances the Brazilian pavilions have shared. It has opened the doors to a broader insight into Brazil’s ample folklore and heritage.
The cultural scene in Winnipeg has seen a change in the years since Yara Vasconcelos has been coming here.
“It is becoming bigger, people are becoming more involved in the cultural scene,” says Vasconcelos. “In Winnipeg, I see people are more emotionally responsive to performers. They openly show more appreciation for the dancers.”
Winnipeg’s growing diversity provides a tremendous opportunity to get to know captivating aspects of different cultures.
According to the Province of Manitoba, “Over the last 10 years, almost 130,000 people from all over the world have made Manitoba, Canada, their new home”.
Folklorama is the world’s largest multicultural festival that has brought not only different communities in Winnipeg to the stage, but artists and performers from all over the world. Within each pavilion, there are many participants from abroad, like Vasconcelos, eager to take part in one of the most dynamic festivals this city has to offer.
It’s certain many Folklorama patrons look forward to the new and exciting shows Yara Vasconcelos and her ensemble will have for us next year!