Before the first night of Folklorama is always stressful and uncertain, will the stage be finished, will the performers be confused, will the show run longer than the allotted time slot, will an audience show up? All these things are legitimately concerns, but every year everything comes together and runs smoothly as it did last night. The performances on stage were top notch and well rehearsed and the show itself, which we formatted differently from last year, seemed to run without any glitches. The one thing that was noticeable was the smaller than average crowds for all three shows. The disadvantage of hosting a Pavilion on the first week is that the crowds are small early in the week because of the long weekend, but they gradually grow toward the end of the week. The second week is traditionally more successful financially because of the momentum carried from the first week via word of mouth and media reports and reviews.
Some highlights and observations from Night 1:
- The martial arts groups will perform 15 minutes before each main stage show, the first night was the Manitoba Kendo Club. It was especially cute to see some of the younger (kids) members bashing each other with the kendo sticks and their little screaming voices from under those large helmets. This year we are back with all three MA groups, judo, karate and kendo.
- For the first time in many years, we have three different singers that will perform throughout the week. Kenji Miyamoto was accompanied by his daughter Mitsuko who provided some interpretive dancing in the background. Kenji drew loud appreciative applause after each performance and you can tell he really enjoys performing on stage. Shayna Paulicelli for the fourth straight year is back and as I've said in the past she's a natural and a born performer. A powerful new song that combines Japanese and English lyrics will be a crowd pleaser all week. She is scheduled to perform for all but two nights. A third singer Yuki performs mid week on.
- I didn't notice this before, but look closely at the photo with the taiko drummers against the back wall. They are standing on little risers that can be adjusted for height...thought that was kind of cool.