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Wednesday, 14 June 2006 00:00

Folkmoot photo ops: International festival revamps, ramps up for 2006 season

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By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Folkmoot USA, the annual international dance festival with performances held throughout Western North Carolina, always is marked by riotous colors, intriguing costumes and smiling faces, making it a photographer’s paradise.

“Basically the Folkmoot festival in itself is just one photo opportunity after another,” said Vicki Passmore, of Candler, winner of the festival’s first annual photography competition.

Passmore’s shot of a brightly tasseled, costumed Indian dancer coming down the street during one of the festival’s opening day parades was one of several entries coming from local, regional and out-of-state photographers.

“We were just blown away,” said Jamye Cooper, Folkmoot director, of the quality and quantity of images received.

Passmore’s photo will be used on this year’s Folkmoot guidebook, a full-color publication sold to festival-goers and designed to provide more information about the festival’s featured performers.

Fellow photographer Patrick Parton, of Waynesville, had his image of a fire dancer from Togo, glistening with sweat, chosen to become the festival’s poster. This will be the second year that Folkmoot has put out a collectable festival poster.

“It was very well received,” Cooper said, of last year’s poster, which featured local photographer Ashley T. Evans’ portrait of a dancer.

The photography contest was conceived as a way to get more people involved with Folkmoot. Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s official International Festival, is a two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer across Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performances, parades and workshops by more than 350 performers from a dozen or so countries.

The festival aims to be more than simply dancers on a stage, Cooper said. Festival staff are working to create additional ways for festival-goers to interact with performers, from craft and music workshops with visiting groups, selling of native wares during International Festival Day, and now, photographing the festival with the hopes that the image will become the face of Folkmoot.

The festival continues to grow with added performances this year at the Canton Colonial Theater, which recently reopened after flooding in 2004, and the Diana Wortham Theater in Asheville. There also will be a special six-group performance at Western Carolina University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. The festival has relocated its opening Gala event for Folkmoot donors to Eaglenest Entertainment in Maggie Valley, and also rescheduled its World Friendship Sunday to be an evening performance at Lake Junaluska’s Stuart Auditorium.

For more information about the festival visit folkmootusa.org or call 1.877.FOLK.USA. This year’s festival will be held July 17-30. At this time, Folkmoot expects groups from the following countries to participate in the 2006 festival: Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Mexico, New Zealand, Serbia, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

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