DRAMATIC LION DANCE performed by a local Wakefield troupe, under direction of Nick Balodimas

WAKEFIELD — On Saturday, May 27, over 150 people participated in the Wakefield Human Rights Commission’s “Celebration of APAH Culture.” The event, held at the Americal Civic Center, featured three hours of non-stop performances, instruction and interactive displays. 

The event opened with a dramatic Lion Dance, performed by a local Wakefield troupe, under the direction of Nick Balodimas. This was their public debut after rehearsing for months. Then, Bollywood dancers from the Academy of Creative Arts in Burlington performed two dances, followed by instruction in some Bollywood moves. Next, Nabil Ata, an accomplished Oud musician, gave a haunting performance on this classic Arabic instrument. His mini concert was followed by a charming Chinese Ribbon Dance performed by Winnie Carpenter. Many took advantage of her instruction in this special art, often to humorous effect. 

The Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association’s Diablo, students of Chinese yo-yo, gave an exciting demonstration of intricate tricks and movements. Then they patiently helped audience members try diablo which takes a lot of practice to master. Students and instructors from Defensive Edge Martial Arts based in Wakefield demonstrated Muay Thai, the national sport of Thailand. After, many tried some of the moves in “the art of eight limbs”. That muscular demonstration was followed by four enchanting and graceful Tibetan dances performed by dancers from the Bright Pearl Academy based in Newton in full costume and make-up. To conclude the event, we welcomed back the Lion Dancers who, as is traditional, “ate” some lettuce, symbolizing wealth and luck and handed out oranges, symbolizing longevity and health.

In addition to the performances and instruction by the performers, our attendees could: snack on Asian sweets handed out at the welcome table; create an origami to take home with the help of Ariane and Jules Dauphin; learn about the APAH nations by viewing an interactive map illustrating all 48 Asian nations and the many Pacific Island nations celebrated each May. Attendees were invited to pin their country of heritage, and with different pins, countries they have visited; get a beautiful henna tattoo by artist Komal Lokesh Parakh from The Hennapoint; learn calligraphy from Paul and Rosalie DiCrescenzo of Two Dragons Path Kungfu; try a cup of boba tea created by Shyan Ong with assistance from Ellie Leon and Sam Carpenter; view descriptive material about Chinese Ribbon Dancing; have their names printed in Arabic and learn about western Asia from members of the Lebanese World Cultural Union; and gather information about the range of martial arts.

The event was planned by a team. HRC Commissioner Sherri Oken led a talented and dedicated group of community members: Geoff Sheau, our sound technician; Winnie Carpenter; Shyan Ong; and Hyon Leon. We received additional assistance at the event from their families and friends and members of the Youth Council. This was a true group effort.

For more photos and information about the WHRC, please visit https://www.wakefield.ma.us/human-rights-commission or  https://www.facebook.com/WHRC1/.