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Sandy Journal

International Folk Festival Explores Various Cultures

Aug 22, 2016 04:39PM ● By Kelly Cannon

Dancers perform a traditional dance from Mexico. —Adrian Ruiz

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
The Sandy Amphitheater was transported around the world during the International Folk Festival. Held Aug. 17, the annual festival presents dance numbers from all over the globe to patrons to help explore different cultures.
The festival is put together by Adrian Ruiz, the director of the Narodna International Dancers. Ruiz himself has been dancing for many years and used to perform around the world at international festivals when he was a member of the Rocky Mountain Dancers and the Jubilee American Dance Theater in San Francisco.
“We would represent the USA at international folk festivals performing traditional dances from the USA,” Ruiz said. “My last tour was in 2014.”
Seven years ago, Ruiz approached Sandy City about hosting an international folk festival based on the many festivals he had attended worldwide. The city accepted and has been hosting the festival ever since.
“The only difference between those festivals and this one is I use local groups instead of international groups to represent their country and ethnic heritage,” Ruiz said.
During this year’s performance, dancers performed two dances each from Russia, Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria.
“Our invited guests include the Russian band/singer group called Phonograph Blue, who will combine their talents with our dance group for the Russian suite,” Ruiz said.
Also in the show are the Arirang Korean Drum Dance Club, the DF Dance Studio performing Latin dances such salsa, flamenco and tango, the Salt Lake Scandinavian Music and Dance Club and the Grupo De Colores representing Mexico.    
“Our program is about 90 minutes long with music and song and gives the audience a taste of dance, music and traditional costumes from around the world,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said it is difficult to say what dance is the most popular because each country represented has its unique style of dancing.
“Mexican is very colorful and dynamic. Russian has beauty and przhadkas, or deep knee bends, which audiences enjoy. German is fun because of the oom pah pay music. Korean drums are loud and the costumes gorgeous,” Ruiz said. “So unlike ballet or rock and roll, one cannot single out any particular dance step as most popular.”
Every year, Ruiz tries to get different ethnic groups to perform so there is something new for the audiences.
“We are very grateful to the staff of the Sandy Amphitheater for allowing us to put this festival on each year, and every year it has grown in popularity and we have become one of the mainstays of the Sandy Amphitheater summer season,” Ruiz said.
Ruize hopes audiences seeing the festival will take away an appreciation for the many ethnic cultures here in the valley.
“We are their neighbors and friends,” Ruiz said.