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Family Day zooms three shows into your home

Northern Alberta International Children's Festival looks for support

Pick out your favourite snacks and prepare to enjoy Family Day relaxing in the warmth and comfort of your home. This year, the City of St. Albert’s Cultural Services has planned three Zoom shows running at staggered times.

The three 30-minute shows available on Monday, Feb. 15, are free to watch and cover diverse artistic disciplines. The trio includes West African Dance hosted by Sangea Academy’s Reckie Lloyd, Alex Zerbie’s Zaniac Show and The Magic of Sheldon Casavant.

“Every year, we have a tradition of doing a Family Day event. This year, we continue it – but in a new way,” said Andrea Martinuk, professional programming presenter.

The three performing artists invited to create a show have either performed at the Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival, or were slated to appear at the 2020 festival before COVID-19 shut it down.

Reckie Lloyd’s show starts at 11 a.m. and combines entertainment and how-to instruction in West African drumming and dancing. The djembe drummer has been a vital addition to Sangea Academy both as a musician and workshop leader.

“We planned on having Sangea at our 2020 Children’s Festival. They are so vibrant and energetic. We wanted to bring them back but we had to limit the numbers. Reckie will be showing us some African dances you can do at home,” Martinuk said.

No dance experience is required – just a willingness to have fun. Martinuk added that every movement in West African dance has meaning. And Lloyd believes that in sharing his ancestral music and dance, he is not only preserving his culture, but building bridges within the community.

Following at 1 p.m. is Alex Zerbe’s wacky "The Zaniac Zoom Show." Zerbe has performed his outrageous and hilarious routines at the Children’s Festival on the outdoor stage. For anyone who has never had the pleasure of seeing his act, Zerbe bounces across the stage with the energy of 10 Energizer bunnies.

His eyes pop, his jaw drops. He juggles bowling balls, flaming torches and slices vegetables in half with a playing card. And his interactive shows always have a few special teases for the audience.

“He’s so zany. He’s so much fun and very high-energy. He does ridiculous things that make you laugh."

Sheldon Casavant appears at 3 p.m. to showcase his one-of-a-kind magic show and reveal the secrets to a trick or two. Just prepare a deck of cards, a pencil, a coin and two rubber bands to participate.

“Sheldon has performed at the Children’s Festival and he’s a favourite of ours. He’s an international performer and we’re so lucky to have him here in Edmonton.”

“I’m excited about this Family Day. I finally have something to do with my kids. This is for parents as well. It’s Family Day and as an adult who watches children’s shows, this is a great lineup.”

Links to Zoom can be found at www.childfest.com.

“As I understand it, the Zoom link is not active until the time of the show. But you can log into a waiting room and a host will let you in when it’s time.”

Although these shows are free, organizers are asking viewers if they would consider making a donation to the Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival via Canada Helps at canadahelps.org.