Dance Event: Ethnic dance comes to Mandeville

A remarkable multicultural journey is only a step away: The San Diego Dance Alliance will present the 10th Annual Nations of San Diego International Dance Festival at Mandeville Auditorium. The first week of shows took place from Jan. 9 to Jan. 12, and the second week will have shows every night at 7:30 p.m. from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25.

As the largest ethnic dance festival in Southern California this year, Nations will feature a dozen performing companies and over 250 dancers and musicians in an energetic and colorful celebration of the rich cultural diversity of the San Diego area.

“”We try to have a balanced program that represents the faces of San Diego,”” said Kendall Klug, executive director of the SDDA. “”We have assembled a wonderfully diverse and talented lineup of dance companies to commemorate our 10th anniversary.””

The dances are well-choreographed and complete with vibrant costumes and traditional music, and there is a wide range of styles to reflect the many cultures of the area. Noteworthy gems to watch for during the second week of shows include the Indian dance, featuring UCSD student Swetha Bharadvaj and her mother, as well as the Spanish flamenco dances with their impressive footwork.

“”The [Spanish] dance has a lot of passion, and that’s why I like it,”” said Maria Herrera, who performs in the flamenco dances.

Other performances for the second week will represent the Philippines, Native Americans, Bali, Hungary, Mexico and Ireland. Performances from the first week also featured the elegance of traditional Chinese dance, a wedding sash dance from Lithuania and the exciting Pualani dancers from the Polynesian region.

“”The [Polynesian] dance was choreographed to represent the elements of our universe,”” said Laura Senecal, one of the Pualani dancers.

In addition to representing a variety of cultures, Klug also emphasized the reflection of cross-cultural identities in the program.

“”Not only is America a melting pot, but we’re crossing cultures globally now,”” Klug said. “”We hear the Westernization of music in certain styles, even in the Chinese dance. It’s not 100 percent organic, indigenous product because everybody is a product of the cross-culture right now.””

Before the dance program, there is also a performance from Diginous, a group that uses exotic instruments from the African and Australian regions. The music is definitely refreshing for those who are into world beats or who are just looking for something new.

The audience’s response to the show was very positive.

“”The costumes and the music reflected the cultures well,”” said Qi Zhang, a Revelle College freshman.

Nations will have a total of eight performances over three weeks, as well as six lecture programs for school children, where students will get the chance to learn about other cultures and dances. Through the Ticket Subsidy Program, Nations receives funding from corporations like Sempra Energy and Target, and in turn offers free performance tickets to families and individuals from underserved communities.

“”The mission that’s best of all is to help preserve the heritage and traditions of many cultures through dance,”” Klug said.

Tickets for Nations range from $12-$25 and are available online at, by phone at (619)220-TIXS or at any Ticketmaster outlet. For more information visit