Henrico County VA
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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

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tim Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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The Short Pump Ruritan Club's 24th Annual Craft Show will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Short Pump Middle School, 4701 Pouncey Tract Rd., Glen Allen. More… Full text

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