The end of May saw students from the Louis Riel School Division return to St. Vital Park for the annual Folk Dance in the Park event and take over the soccer pitch at St. Vital Park for a morning of music and dancing.
The Folk Dance in the Park is in its 30th year and is a special event, unique to St. Vital. Every spring, St. Vital schools wind down with the Folk Dance in the Park, a morning of music and dancing featuring students, mostly from Grades 1 through 3.
The event was originally started by local music teachers to celebrate folk dancing and to provide students with a fun experience and a way to share what their learning. Children get to experience a different music and traditions, with a variety of dances and rhythms, exciting their curiosity and engaging them in their education.
There are 30 schools that participate, with over 4000 students for the two day event that sees more than 2000 students performing the same choreography, or mostly trying at least, with parents, grandparents, friends, and family enjoying the performances and music from around the world, from Spain to Ghana to Canada.
Ingrid Pederson, Arts Education Coordinator for the Louis Riel School Division, says that planning for the folk dance starts in the fall, with the selection of the dances and music, balancing new pieces with ones from previous years. The mix of new and old ensures that the teachers aren’t required to learn dozens of new dances each year, keeping the event fresh, while also creating some traditions for students and parents to anticipate.
One of the goals of the event is that children build a sense of community, and Peterson was happy to notice some former students, now volunteers from Dakota Collegiate, remember it from when they were little, and can still do some of the dances.
The event is fun for the students, mostly in Grades 1 through 3, who were full of smiles and giggles, and mostly enthusiastic, on a day perfect for outdoor fun, especially after lots of practice and anticipation. It is also a great afternoon for parents, families, friends, and teachers to interact and socialize and enjoy some high-spirited entertainment, with a tradition that hopefully will continue for another thirty years.
This article was originally published on June 3 , 2019 by Winnipeg Free Press.