1 ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
In the 1990s, community activist Sheila Hardin organized the first multicultural festival in Downtown. "She wanted to bring people of different cultures together," says current event organizer Cynthia James-Price, "to showcase the diversity of San Diego and also to highlight Downtown San Diego."
The festival started small but eventually grew to accommodate thousands of attendees. But in 2010, Hardin died, having lost a battle against cancer at age 60, and the multicultural festival died with her.
However, then-City Councilmember Tony Young asked the Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the organization that holds the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, to help restart it, and the group agreed. Last year's fest was the first one after the short hiatus.
Now renamed to honor its driving force, the 16th Annual San Diego, Sheila Hardin Multi-Cultural Festival is back again this year to highlight the ethnic diversity of San Diego. It'll happen from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, along the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, on East Harbor Drive, between First and Fifth avenues, Downtown.
The festival's highlights are Danza Azteca the music and dance performances aimed at expressing various traditional heritages. The lineup includes Zydeco and bluegrass by the Bayou Brothers, drumming from the dynamic Japanese group San Diego Taiko, Afro-Cuban music and dance by Omo Aché, a children's African drum workshop, the Walter Gentry & Curtis V jazz ensemble and Native American dance by Danza Azteca.
James-Price says it's important "to know that we are a melting pot in San Diego and to embrace our differences and to understand our differences and not look at the differences as something that is a negative, but something that's a positive. I think we should learn from each other and broaden our perspectives of other cultures."
There will also be food vendors, children's activities, artists selling their work and community information booths offering health, educational and other services. Oh, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade will be held the next day, from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, on Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. sdmulticultural.com
2 STARS ON STAGE
Watching ballroom dance sounds a tad boring, right? Ballroom with a Twist is pretty much the opposite. The touring production includes all sorts of sexy, high-energy dance, including cha-cha, tango, foxtrot and jive, but that's just the beginning. Conductor Matthew Garbutt and artists from the San Diego Symphony play their pretty music alongside a cast of reality-television stars, including swoon-worthy dancer Mark Ballas (Dancing with the Stars) and singers Gina Glocksen and Von Smith (AmericanIdol). Choreographed by Dancing with the Stars veteran Louis van Amstel, the night of toe-tapping, live song-and-dance will happen at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 and 18, at Copley Symphony Hall (750 B St., Downtown). $20-$85. sandiegosymphony.org
3 WORD PLAY
For his "Origins" piece, San Diego artist Alex Dikowski used words cut from the pages of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. The words were carefully collaged on canvas, then surrounded by shapes and colors made with foil and marker. All of the work in Dikowski's Abstractions of Thought series is inspired by philosophical, scientific or spiritual quandaries and constructed in similar ways. Books that made the cut—pun intended—include iCon: Steve Jobs and The Man in the Iron Mask; other pieces were inspired by philosophical quotes. The resulting body of work is a collection of interesting, textured, abstract images that ask viewers to pause and ponder their meaning. Dikowski's show opens from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at Quality Social (789 Sixth Ave., Downtown). dikowski.com
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