HomeMoorestown NewsMoorestown’s Perkins Center hosts World Stage Series

Moorestown’s Perkins Center hosts World Stage Series

Summer festival celebrates global cultural traditions

Special to The Sun: Moorestown’s Perkins Center for the Arts hosts its World Stage series this summer to celebrate diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions. Events include “Mela! An Indian Fair,’’ where residents can experience Bollywood dance and henna.

Moorestown’s Perkins Center for the Arts will host its World Stage Series festival this month and in July to celebrate different cultural backgrounds. 

“Steelpan & Soca: Caribbean American Heritage” kicked off June 21 and featured Soca Sakita Fitness and the Philadelphia Pan Stars Orchestra. Perkins’ Folklife Center Director Marion Jacobson explained how the gallery partnered with the South Jersey Caribbean Cultural and Development Organization (SJCCDO), whose mission is to promote understanding and awareness of the area’s culture through arts, cultural and educational programs.

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“ … They’re partnering with us to bring us their talented artists, their ideas and their audience,” Jacobson said. “… This is the first time we’re jointly presenting an annual Caribbean Carnival event for Caribbean Heritage Month.”

There was also Caribbean food and children learned how to make rain-sticks.

The World Stage Series started in the summer of 2020.

“This is part of that whole series of outdoor, enjoyable experience(s) that we call ‘Gather on the Green,’” Jacobson explained. “This one is a little different because of the way that it showcases authentic, cultural performances. It grew out of a 2020 event that was a Black Lives Matter dance protest.

“ … That’s when we had a dozen or so people coming out to dance, along with a salsa band, to protest the violence against communities of color, and come together in solidarity,’ she added. 

Jacobson also explained the reason behind bringing the festival to Moorestown.

“ … We set out to collaborate with communities and cultural artisans to support their work in raising awareness of the tradition that they’re practicing, the spark (of) intercultural exchange, and (to) create connections through participatory experiences,” Jacobson said.

“More than just concerts, they all have some element of audience participation.”

Irish Music & Dance, set for June 28, will feature a performance from the Sara Peters Irish Dance School and a presentation by husband-and-wife musical duo Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley, also known as McDermott’s Handy. Basket weaver Mary Carty will also teach a craft activity.

“I love the way that they are partnering with us and bringing in all these artists and resources,” Jacobson said, “And also educating the audience by incorporating fun facts and stories and providing (that) context.”

“Salsa on the Green with Maestro Flaco” will take place on July 12 and feature the sounds of live salsa and a dance lesson with instructor Marck “Flaco” Best.

“We want to include local salsa performers to highlight the importance of community members who have been keeping salsa culture alive,” Jacobson noted. “ … That was the seed of World Stage. That was the 2020 event on the green that grew into (the) summer cultural series and then World Stage.”

“Lanterns on the Green: Asian Music & Dance” on July 19 will feature young dancers and drummers from the Korean School of South Jersey and a special origami activity with Perkins’ cultural artisan Jenson Cheng.

“We’re spotlighting a tradition that’s celebrated in many Asian countries, especially China, where people honor ancestors with different kinds of lanterns,” Jacobson said. “Sometimes they’re used for Lunar New Year, sometimes they’re ways of promoting peace and good vibes.”

“Mela! An Indian Fair on the Green” is set for July 26 and will close out World Stage with cultural artisans from South Jersey’s Indian community, Bollywood dance demonstrations, henna and traditional craft making. In Indian culture, mela is a gathering of people who come together at a culturally appropriate time and place.

Jacobson wants people to experience the joy of different cultural traditions through the upcoming events.

“I hope that these events, by gathering people together on our beautiful lawn, that (it) will send the message of equity and inclusivity as part of our mission to build a better world through the arts, and supporting the work of local artists from all the communities in the area,” she concluded.

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