The groups of Folkmoot 2011

Batimbo Drummers Ensemble

The Republic of Burundi in central Africa has always been known for its hypnotic drum music, and field recordings of Burundi drumming have entranced listeners for years. Those drum rhythms have also been incorporated into world-fusion music anytime some intense percussion is called for.

The Batimbo Drummers Ensemble retain the responsibility and privilege of making, beating and keeping the drums. Until recently, the drums could only be beaten in homage to the king or to his ancestors. Today their tradition is gradually losing its ritual symbolism to become more of an art reserved for festivals.

The master drummer’s ensemble, dressed in draped robes of green, red, and white, are composed of drums arranged in a circular arc. The drums to the left — “amashakwe” — provide the continuous rhythm, while those on the right — “Ibishikizo” — follow the rhythm given by the soloist (placed in the center of the semi-circle in front of  the others). The performers are in constant interplay with the audience and each drummer may spontaneously leave his drum, take his place in the center of the arc, and dance. In some performances drummers may leap over their drums or place the drums on their heads while playing or dancing.


Strathcona Chinese Dance Company

Strathcona Chinese Dance Company (SCDC), which is affiliated with the Vancouver Academy of Dance, was founded in 1973 by Maria Mimie Ho as a recreational dance program to promote Chinese dance in Canada.

The company derives its name from the Strathcona section of the city of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. Since its inception, the company has grown into a world-renowned dance troupe, performing for many heads of state and dignitaries. SCDC is committed to fostering artistic exchange and enhancing cultural understanding while promoting goodwill and fellowship through the performing arts.

The troupe’s large catalog of traditional Chinese dance includes “The Red Ribbon Dance,” “Flying Kites” and “Peach Blossoms.”

The company last visited Folkmoot 19 years ago in 1992.


Klek of Croatia

Folklore ensemble Klek of Croatia was formed in 1980 with an emphasis on preserving and performing the folk customs of the Croatian and Ogulin cultures.

The group has more than 200 members includding two folklore ensembles, a seniors group, three children’s groups, a mens vocal group, a womens vocal group and a group of tambura players.

The tambura is a folk instrument similar to a lute or mandolin. The 40 members of the tambura group perform dances from cities and different regions in Croatia such as Ogulin, Bizovac, Baranja, Bratina, Split, Lika, Međimurje, Bilogora, Dubrovnik, Ražanac, Vrlika, Hvar and Bunjevac.

The group has more than 200 new and refurbished costumes.

The musicians perform dance tunes and compositions from famous composers.

Klek has performed in folk festivals all over Croatia in other countries such as Hungary, Turkey, France, Belgium, Portugal, Korea, Austria and Italy.


Tahdittomat dance troupe

The Tahdittomat dance troupe from Finland was founded in 1984

for the purpose of preserving traditional Finnish folk dancing.

The group’s aim is to promote traditional Finnish culture throughout the world with activities ranging from dance studies to performances and excursions.

Tahdittomat’s home is in the municipality of Jokionen in southern Finland. Villages in this region of Finland include Haapaniemi, Jokioinen, Lammi, and Latovainio, among others.

Tahdittomat is an ensemble cast of dancers and musicians that are both professionals and enthusiastic amateurs. They range in age from 17 to 40 and perform both in Finland and abroad.  Tahdittomat present both complex allegorical dances, and also more playful fare, all driven by a common thread.  

For example, the troupe often performs a dance entitled “Illatsut” which is told in the Karelian language.  Karelia was a historical province of Finland which is now divided between Finland and Russia.  “Illatsut’s” theme is that of youth and fellowship.


Viard Nouvelle

The Viard Nouvelle dance troupe from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe has been in existence for 28 years. Since its inception, its leaders have tried to maintain tradition and provide young people an education and outlet through those traditions.  

Among the dances and music performed by Viard Nouvelle is the Gwo ka, which translates to “Big drum.” Gwo ka is both a family of hand drums and the music created with them, which is a major part of Guadeloupian folk music. There are seven rhythms in gwo ka, which are embellished by the drummers. Different sizes of drums establish the foundation and its flourishes, with the largest, the boula, playing the central rhythm and the smaller, markeur drum interplays with the dancers, audience or singer.

Gwo ka singing is usually guttural, nasal and rough, though it can also be bright and smooth. It is accompanied by uplifting and complex harmonies and melodies. There are also dances that tell folk stories that are accompanied by the gwo ka drums.

Guadeloupians still use gwo ka drums in communal experiences called lewozes; this is the most traditional manifestation of gwo ka in modern Guadeloupe. Gwo ka is also played at Carnival and other celebrations. A modernized and popularized form of gwo ka is well-known on the islands; it is known as “gwo ka moderne.”


Figulinas Florinas

The group “Figulinas” — which translates into English as “fictile” — is an appropriate name for this group of talented dancers from the island of Sardinia in Italy.

Figulinas was born 23 years ago when young Sardinian performers with an interest and passion for reconstructing the traditional clothing and folk dances of Sardinia decided to form a group. The name is a play on words stemming from the fact that the area of Sardinia, from which the group hails, is world-renowned for its pottery.

The group is from the city of Sassari which is the second largest city in Sardinia. The characteristics of the group are based mainly in accordance with the canons of traditional Sardinian dance.


Diego Martin Footprints

The Diego Martin Footprints Folk Performers — who hail from the town of Diego Martin in northwestern Trinidad — have been in existence for more than 35 years.

The group represented Trinidad in Folkmoot in 2008 during the 25th anniversary year of the festival. In their own words, Footprints performers strive to, “Be the best we can be, keeping culture alive through dance.”

The most familiar musical tradition represented by the Footprints Folk Performers is Calypso music. Calypso originated as a form of communication between Afro-Caribbean slaves on the island when former slave masters forbid slaves from speaking to each other. A direct relative of Calypso and another specialty of Footprints is Soca, which combines percussion rhythms with Chutney music.

Also familiar to many audiences are the dances of Trinidad, which include the Limbo and Moko Jumbies. The Limbo, a derivative of the word “limber,” is a dance rooted in African history where a performer bends backwards while walking forward, under a pole. When a dancers body passes completely under the pole, it is said to be symbolic of the triumph of life over death. Moko Jumbies are stilt walkers that represent a dance tradition carried from Africa over the Atlantic to Trinidad.


American Racket Dance Company

American Racket Dance Company features American clogging and percussive dance.

American Racket was founded on UF (University of Florida) campus in 2002 by then-student Andy Howard. Since then, American Racket has built a global reputation for high-energy presentations.

American Racket is a guaranteed toe-tapping, hand-clapping good time for all and a celebration of what young adults are doing to revive and reinvent the dance culture of the United States.

Andy Howard founded SoundStage in 2001 while attending University of Florida; the original group comprised students and regional dancers specializing in clogging, tap and other forms of percussive dance.  In 2007, the group relocated to Central Florida and adopted the name “American Racket,” originally the name of a performance organized and choreographed by Howard for the Orlando International Fringe Festival. Howard was inducted into the All-American Clogging Team in 2002.

American Racket has represented the United States as “cultural ambassadors” at international festivals sanctioned by C.I.O.F.F. (International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals) in Costa Rica, Brazil, and Canada.

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