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Christmas Around the World lifts the spirit

Vinok Worldance dinner theatre blends centuries of global culture


Christmas Around the World

Vinok Worldance

Nov. 21 to 24

Chateau Louis Conference Centre

11727 Kingsway Ave.

Tickets: $42 to $175. Call 780-454-3739 or visit


The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge in some pretty spectacular onstage performances. For some, it’s the quintessential A Christmas Carol. For others, The Nutcracker will dance our heart away.

But our Canadian culture is a beautifully patterned mosaic of global traditions, something Vinok Worldance has tapped into for two decades.

Yes, this is the 20th edition of the Christmas Around the World dinner theatre production and the company’s 30th anniversary. Four performances run from Nov. 21 to 24 at Chateau Louis Conference Centre.

Vinok Worldance executive director Leanne Koziak said the double anniversaries seemed a bit surreal.

“It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. The years go by so quickly. It’s been an interesting experience and a wonderful experience,” said Koziak.

Ten dancers, four musicians and the charismatic host Timothy J. Anderson returns to guide the audience through centuries of culture, traditions and stunning choreography. This is Anderson’s 18th year hosting.

“He’s very witty, very funny and very engaging. He has a great rapport with the audience. He’s fabulously talented and a wonderful human being. He tells funny interesting anecdotes and is very entertaining.”

A much-in-demand tenor, Anderson also sings some of his favourite Christmas carols – Italy’s Gesu Bambino, Germany’s O Tannenbaum, and Spain’s Ríu Ríu Chíu.

Among the nimble, light-footed performers are two St. Albert dancers – Paige Tirs and Truus Verkley.

“Because of the anniversary and the celebrations, we decided to do our favourite dances that we’d performed over the years,” Koziak explained.

The program is packed with 10 dances including Rompi, a Turkish Gypsy dance with costumes styled from the northwest corner of Turkey near Bulgaria.

“This is a personal dance inspired by Turkish friends who emigrated here. We’d meet once a week at a bar and do folk dances, and they loved this one.”

Jumping across the ocean, the cast chose two courting dances from Mexico: El Jabalí and El Jarabe Tapatío also known as The Mexican Hat Dance.

“The cast is fabulous. The music is grand. They’re challenging for the cast, but very relatable to the audience. They are percussive and familiar.”

In the German Schuhplattler, an energetic Bavarian partner dance, the men dress in lederhosen and slap their shoes for a comedic effect.

From Bulgaria, the cast reintroduces two line dances with unusual rhythms where dancers are connected by belts: Graovsko Horo and Kopanitsa.

Peru’s Cuzco region contributes Valicha, a colourful, vibrant folk dance where boy meets girl to flirt and socialize.

In honour of the two anniversaries, Koziak has planned a special gala evening on Saturday night with an elevated four-course plated dinner plus a celebratory cake. In addition to Christmas Around the World repertoire, the seven-piece Broken Banjos serenades the audience with a series of Ukrainian folk tunes.

For Koziak, this year’s production is more than two incredible anniversaries. For her, with all the strife around the world it is even more important to embrace each other’s culture.

“It lifts your spirit. It gets you into the reason why we celebrate Christmas traditions. Vinok has always tried to spread joy in the world and this is an event that can bring more joy to people. We need to be better and appreciate each other more.

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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