Henrico County VA

Cultural appeal

County boasts variety of ethnic events

This time of the year, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Henrico County.

For example, on two recent weekends, some of the county’s diverse music and dance offerings were on display at three events.

You could enjoy performances by a Latin ballet company, a church choir and Asian Indian dancers.

Ana Ines King, director of the Latin Ballet of Virginia, and two members of the Glen Allen-based company performed June 23 at the CultureWorks CultSha Xpo.

Dressed in a shimmering, floor-length red dress and fringed shawl, King performed a Spanish flamenco on the Science Museum of Virginia’s rotunda stage.

Her dance featured beautiful fluid motions alternating with swirling spins as her shawl stayed in almost-constant motion. She twirled across the small stage, punctuating the dance with rapid-fire footsteps.

Afterwards, King introduced two young dancers costumed in brilliant, tropical colors. The duo performed a hot Caribbean rumba.

For the finale, the trio invited spectators onto the stage for a group dance lesson.

King, who founded the company, said the arts play a dominant role in Latin cultures.

“The most important part of the culture and part of the history is actually dance and music and without that we cannot live,” King said.

The following day in Chester another kind of dance took center stage.

Henrico County resident Bina Shah hurried around the expansive Cultural Center of India making last-minute arrangements for the final day of the Taste of India event.

About 100 people, many from Henrico, performed at the two-day festival. Sunday’s opening performance was a classical Indian dance called Bharat Natyam. The dance, performed by four teens, featured elaborate traditional dress and a tribute to Lord Ganesha, the Indian elephant god.

Shah said the event’s music, dance and food were an opportunity for people to learn about India’s culture without leaving the country.

“We take them to India without going to India… you experience India here,” she said.

The following weekend it was busy at Gravel Hill Center in Varina despite damaging storms the night before and a temperature of 100 degrees by noon on Saturday.

The historic community hosted its “Civil War to Civil Rights” event as part of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Glendale.

About a dozen members of Gravel Hill Baptist Church’s combined choir gathered under a large white tent dressed casually in the steamy weather.

Accompanied by Alvin Campbell, a music teacher at Highland Springs High School, the choir sang four songs including, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith” and “Amazing Grace.”

James Washington Jr., chairman of the church’s music committee, said gospel music appeals to people across many cultures.

“Anybody can sing gospel music. As long as your heart is right and you have the right spirit, you can sing gospel music,” Washington said. “Gospel music is something that everybody can relate to.”

Even if you missed these performances, Henrico County’s broad range of cultural events take place year round. The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is one of the county’s busiest venues.

“We make certain that our performance offerings are culturally diverse,” said Anita Waters, director of public relations and marketing for the center. “Over the [past] five years … we have strategically included the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats, The Harlem Gospel Choir, Kenya Safari Acrobats, Ezibu Muntu African Dance Company and Eleone Dance Theatre to name a few, as a way to allow our patrons the ability to experience the artistic styles from different cultures and ethnicities.”

So even when this summer’s heat melts into fall and eventually winter, there will still be plenty of opportunities to experience a diverse range of arts, music and dance in Henrico County.

This story is part of the Virginia Tapestry series, which is produced by In Your Shoes Media. For details about each of the organizations described in this article, visit http://www.artsglenallen.com; http://www.gravelhillbaptistchurch.com/home; and http://www.latinballet.com
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond will stream National Theatre Live’s “Skylight” at 2 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall, Booker Hall of Music. The production… Full text

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