By Katherine Sonne
The Springville World Folkfest offers attendees the opportunity to travel around the world in just hours as dancers and musicians from countries around the globe gather in Springville for a week in Utah to perform.
Springville, commonly referred to as the “art city” by city officials, is hosting United States” largest international folk dance festival for the 19th consecutive year.
“The original theory behind (the festival) . . . was for the groups to interact with our culture so that they could see how we live; it was based on world peace,” said Teddy Anderson, general director of Folkfest. “In a community the size of Springville, there are not that many people that are ever going to be able to travel overseas. Their children are not going to be exposed to various cultures. This way, you bring the cultures to the kids.”
The visiting performing groups learn about American culture by living with host families during their stay in Springville.
Martin Conover, general chairman of Folkfest, welcomed groups into his home for several years and recognized the learning opportunity this experience has to offer.
“(The dancers and musicians) become more aware of Americans from a reality standpoint and not just from a typical movie-type scenario they would get from watching American movies,” Conover said.
Countries that attend the Folkfest are required to perform traditional dances with authentic costumes, music and musicians. The dancers are not allowed to perform to recorded music, so musicians from the dancers” native countries provide live music.
“It”s amazing how much you can learn about a culture just by watching their dancing and listening to their music,” said Christi Babbitt, director of publicity of Folkfest. “Every country is distinctly different.”
Six groups will perform in this year”s festival. The Ko Ngati Hiona group, meaning “children/tribe of zion,” is composed of dancers from various tribes in New Zealand that now live in Utah.
The Folkfest runs from July 10-17 and begins every evening at 8 p.m. at the Spring Acres Arts Park amphitheater. For tickets or more information, call 801-489-2726. Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $3 for children 12 and under.