Fans of all-things dance will be heading to Aberdeen Centre on April 28 & 29 for two days of toe-tapping fun—including a chance to bust a few moves of their own. Celebrating its fifth year in 2019, International Dance Day Richmond is the city’s signature contribution to what has become a massive global party. And organizers say the upcoming edition of the free-entry festivities will be bigger and better than ever.

“We always invite many groups and artists from Richmond and around the Lower Mainland to perform,” says artistic director Sudnya Mulye, who co-founded the annual happening with local planner Clarkson Events. “Over the years, this event has become an incredible showcase of the city’s highly diverse culture,” she adds.

Photo: International Dance Day Richmond
Colourful costumes are a feature of many of the dances. | ​Photo: International Dance Day Richmond​

Day one dance fest

Taking place on the indoor stage at Aberdeen Centre’s Central Atrium, the event has two distinct days. From 1:00pm to 5:00pm on April 28, visitors can watch a colorful, often high-energy array of dance displays and performances from around the world. Many of the dancers—from solo artistes to experienced troupes—will perform in culturally specific costumes.

“There will be at least five or six different dance types on display,” says Sudnya, an award-winning Indian classical dancer who also runs Richmond’s Sudnya Dance Academy. “These include Irish, Chinese, Jewish, Polynesian, and Indian dances. And for the first time this year, we’ll also have a group of amazing dancers with special needs.”

Photo: International Dance Day Richmond
The popular Polynesian dancers will be back at this year's event. | ​Photo: International Dance Day Richmond​

From seasoned professionals to passionate amateurs, the afternoon will be an eye-opening multicultural showcase. And a new element has also been added in 2019. “We found in previous years that people want to know more about the dances and the cultures, so each group will also have its own table where visitors can learn a bit more. We’ve discovered that dance is never just about the performance!”

Day two workshops

But the two-day event isn’t just about watching others do all the work. From 1:00pm to 2:30pm on April 29, dancers will also be hosting free-access workshops for all ages and abilities. “Each instructor will have around 20 minutes to teach their dances to the group. We’ll have about 150 elementary school students in front of the stage learning the steps—as well as anyone else who wants to take part while they are here.”

Over the years, Sudnya says, this chance to participate has become an increasingly popular part of the proceedings. “I’ll look up from the atrium and see people watching us from the floors above and dancing along at the same time. Everyone is always smiling.”

Photo: International Dance Day Richmond​
Enjoy a wide array of dances during the two day event. | ​Photo: International Dance Day Richmond​

Why go?

Adding that she sees dance as a language that unites people of different cultures, Sudnya says she’s really looking forward to welcoming everyone to this year’s event, which is handily located just a few steps from the Canada Line’s Aberdeen Station. “We invite people to come down with their friends and family to experience some amazing dances with us—and perhaps add some eating and shopping to their day out at the same time.”

Organizing this year’s dance-based festivities, she says, has been a great collaboration between the area’s arts and business communities. And in future years, her team plans to build on the event’s growing success in the city. “I always say that dance is a poetry of motion that can touch your soul. But it’s also a great activity that is accessible to everyone and that makes you happy!”

International Dance Day Richmond takes places on April 28 & 29, 2019 at Aberdeen Centre.