From bhangra to ballet, inclusive holiday event aims to tap into Surrey’s dance diversity

Holiday dance parade in Surrey’s downtown is inspired by New York City event.

Maggie Quinn

CITY CENTRE — From bhangra to ballet, a holiday event in Surrey’s downtown aims to tap into the dance diversity in the city.

While the Downtown Surrey BIA is behind the event, dubbed Spirit of the Season, special projects intern Amanda Rachmat was the one tasked with creating a signature holiday event.

And they didn’t want the typical Santa Claus parade.

As a dancer herself, Rachmat knew just how much talent Surrey is home to and said it seemed natural to harness it for the event.

“I think a lot of people don’t know that there are dance groups based in Surrey – teenagers and kids who grew up in Surrey – that are now internationally known. I’m hoping this will show them off,” she told the Now.

“And I really hope people understand it’s a multicultural event, it’s not just about Christmas. It’s about everything that’s celebrated during the colder months of the year.”

Rachmat said the parade could probably be filled with high school students alone, considering the quality and size of dance programs in the district.

“When I was training at Queen Elizabeth (Secondary), each dance class would always have multiple genres we are taught. It would always be at least ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and some sort of cultural dance. I remember doing African one year and my school had a bhangra team.”

Showing off that diversity is the goal, she continued.

“Surrey’s multiculturalism is outstanding,” said Rachmat, “and it just so happens that with such a large Indian population, so much of their culture is dance and fine arts, so that’s just a bonus.”

The event is open to amateurs and professional alike, whether it’s a high school dance club, a dance studio, an organized dance team or just a group of kids who like to dance.

“To be a good dancer, you don’t have to start at five,” she said. “You can start at 17, you can start in your 20s, and still excel in dance. That’s why I’m hoping there’s amateurs of all ages.”

The event is inspired by the dance parade held every May in New York City, which showcases more than 75 styles of dance. While 75 may be too ambitious for Surrey’s first iteration, Rachmat hopes the event can grow into one is just as grand as New York’s.

But it’s not all about dance.

Naturally, the BIA plans to incorporate and showcase area businesses.

They’re creating “Spirit Spots” where visitors and locals can pop by businesses to take in activities like face painting or crafts.

Right now, the three-night event is set for Nov 26, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. Stay tuned to Downtownsurreybia.com for updates closer to the event.

The BIA is currently looking for sponsors and dancers. Call 604-580-2321 for more information.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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