The cultures of the world will gather inside Arts United Center this weekend for an afternoon of music, dance and culture.
Arts United will present “Faces of Fort Wayne,” a 90-minute program showcasing the artistic talents of some of the city’s diverse communities. The show will be Sunday at Arts United Center.
The program will feature performances by Korean, Laotian and Mon dancers, the Urban Mime Dancers, Brisas de Colombia, a local German choir and the Jenbe Jam Fam drummers.
“Fort Wayne has all the benefits of a small town,” says Kerry Rutherford, community outreach manager for Arts United. “But it also has the diversity and creativity of a large international city. We want to let people see that, especially people who might not normally get the opportunity.”
The program is funded by the Knight Foundation, as part of a $750,000 grant to assist Arts United in strengthening arts groups from underserved communities, including the African-American and Hispanic communities and immigrant communities such as Burmese, Senegalese and Vietnamese.
“This is a diversity initiative,” Rutherford says. “So, this showcase may be a one-time thing. But we’re hoping to build the capacity of the emerging groups so they can showcase themselves better in the future.”
The Korean Fan Dance Troupe will perform buchaechum, a traditional fan dance. Myong Hee Park, the group’s director, will also perform buk chum, a solo drum dance.
“We are very proud,” says dancer June Liou of the Korean Fan Dance Troup. “Everyone is talking about diversity. And if we can share our costumes and culture, our music and traditional dances with society it will be beneficial.”
The Korean Fan Dance Troup formed in 2005, part of the Korean Language Congregation at First Presbyterian Church.
The group, which has about nine members, performs using folding fans. The fans, covered in painted blossoms, come together to form waves and flowers, Liou says.
“It is very difficult,” she says. “None of us were dancers before we started. We are all older – 50s, 60s – so we are learning from scratch. But we’re having fun. The most hard part is getting together to practice. We do not have that much time, all the dancers have jobs and families and businesses.”
The group practices twice a week. But when the dancers were first learning the intricate choreography and precise movements of the dance, they gathered to practice every other day. Although the group has performed for their congregation, the Korean War Veterans and for fairs in Noble County, Sunday’s performance will be for the group’s largest audience yet, Liou says.
“The dance is very pretty, very challenging,” Liou says. “Trying to memorize step by step is hard. We make mistakes, which is frustrating. And we’re all very nervous. But the people love it so much. And that makes us so happy.”