Cultures come alive at Children's Museum festival

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Mikaela Lang, 8, had only seen Irish dancing on television until the live performance of the Blanchette Irish Dancers at Saturday's multicultural festival hosted by the Children's Museum.

"I wanted to try some out," she said.

And she was in luck. After the performance, the dancers hosted a workshop teaching interested participants the basic steps of the dance.

"We went through lots and lots of things step by step," Mikaela said. "I loved it. I really want to start dance lessons now."

Jim Peckham, executive director of the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada, said the hands-on activity will be the highlight of the two-day festival.

Each performance - from Irish dancing to Japanese drumming to ballet, African dance and Salsa - will be followed by instructional courses.

"The audience gets to participate," he said.

The fundraiser, called "It's a Small World," is being promoted as the "first annual multicultural 'fun-raising' festival," and is held at the Carson City Community Center.

Peckham said there are no expectations in terms of attendance this year, rather organizers hope to build it year after year.

"Our real goal this year is just to get it launched, plant the seeds," he said. "Eventually, we want to grow it so it becomes a destination for Carson City over Labor Day weekend."

Bridget Isiramen, originally from Nigeria, co-founded the African drum dance group Anouaze Beat, which performed Saturday.

"I love my culture, and I want to showcase the beauty of the African culture," she said. "It's important to me because for some people all they know about Africa is what they see on television."

The registered nurse who lives in Sparks sells imported artifacts through her Web site creativeafrican.homestead.com and is hosting a booth at the festival. She will also be presenting during today's performance at 3:30 p.m.

Peckham said the museum hosts a number of cultural activities, including an Asian New Year celebration and African dance groups, making the festival a natural fit.

It just makes a lot of sense to bring it all together and to find some unity," he said.

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