The ethnic diversity of San Antonio’s population will be on display at Rolling Oaks Mall on Sunday for the 64th Annual San Antonio Folk Dance Festival.
The free event will feature traditional folk dances from a range of countries and locations, starting at 11:30 a.m. with a parade featuring the San Antonio Pipes and Drums Band and Las Monas Puppet and Performance Troupe, followed by of a multicultural mix of Mexican ballet. folklorico, K-pop, and local cloggers, plus music and dance from the Philippines, Hawai’i, Africa, India, Tahiti, and beyond, ending at 5 p.m.
After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Heritage Festivals of San Antonio is set to bring back its annual celebration of folk dance traditions, adding the free public event to the mall for the first time this year.
Mona Lisa Montgomery, a member of the festival’s steering committee, stressed the importance of returning to an in-person event that brings San Antonio communities together.
“It’s going to be great because all the communities that come together to participate in this are ready. They are hungry for it. They want to share, they want to be around each other. We want to be in the same room with an audience,” Montgomery said. “We’re just very happy that it’s happening this year.”
The festival began on Friday evening with a welcome party and performances at Our Lady of the Lake University and continued on Saturday with a full range of folk dance workshops, aimed at teachers and fans of dance traditions. ethnicity who register for a fee of $100.
Everyone is welcome, said festival spokeswoman Kathy Molga, although she said the main audience was interested in learning from choreographers such as Bulgarian dance teacher Jaap Leegwater, Romanian dance teacher Mihai David and Andy Taylor-Blenis, who will lead sessions on international dance and stretching.
The mall’s free public component ensures an integrated audience and makes learning about San Antonio’s many ethnic traditions easily accessible to everyone, Molga said.
“We try to involve the community,” she said, “so there’s an awareness and a celebration [that] it is the cultural center of the South.
Montgomery acknowledged that the Ukrainian folk dance contingent that would normally participate is focused solely on humanitarian aid to their home country amid the Russian invasion, but that a vendor booth will be included at the event with crafts for sale to help with the effort.
“They’re going to reach out to audiences who may not have known how to donate to them, to take those donations if someone wants to donate,” she said.