World Youth Day features dancing in the streets

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., May. 10, 2011
Young people from around the city of Norwich enjoy the 'dance-off' at World Youth Day. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Young people from around the city of Norwich enjoy the 'dance-off' at World Youth Day. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Dancing in the streets - or, more accurately, in a parking lot - was the order of the evening May 6, as Union Square’s parking lot played host to a World Youth Day celebration.

Performers from many cultures and styles moved to the rhythm of music that ranged from Cape Verdean music, rap, and traditional Haitian music to Christian rock, “The Macarena” and “The Chicken Dance.”

The street festival was organized by the Greater Norwich Anti-Bullying Coalition, in conjunction with youth groups from around the city. Besides the music, the fair featured craft tables where kids could make sand sculptures or friendship bracelets, vendors from the Rose City Flea Market in Taftville and “diversity candy” – bagged assortments of colorful mixed candies.

Among the performances was a dance drama by a group calling itself “Shackles,” from the Respecting Diversity Ministry of the Norwich Worship Center. A young woman, bound in chains and wearing a ripped-up shirt emblazoned with words representing evil – “jealousy,” “lying,” “rape” – cried out for help from those among her. Her companions, dressed in camouflage-print pants and tie-dyed t-shirts, came forward in pairs to help release her from the chains, finally pulling off the shirt and crushing it underfoot.

On a different note, Zach Burrows and Roy B., both of Norwich, performed a dance-like demonstration of the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi in the Yong style. Students from Teachers’ Memorial School’s Diversity Club and its Celebrating Diversity Dancers also performed for the crowd, as did the Cabo Verde dancers and a group of Haitian dancers. And later still, kids of all ages convened center stage for the dance-off, accompanied by a mix that included “The Chicken Dance,” “The Macarena” and “The Electric Slide.”

Members of the coalition also offered brochures and information about their current projects, like the Norwich Youth Action Council’s “Flocking Flamingos” fundraiser. Students Aracely Reyes and Raagan Wicken explained that they planned to install nearly 60 plastic flamingos in participants’ front yards, starting with the home of Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom.

Participants pay $30 to have the fake birds removed, and can choose the next “victim.” All funds from the project will be used to help underprivileged Norwich children attend summer camps, sports, lessons, or other activities, they said.

The event was part of the Anti-Bullying Coalition’s First Fridays events for youth. Co-sponsors included the Norwich NAACP and the Norwich Recreation Department.

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