Compatible differences 

"It’s amazing, three forms of art will show cultural connections in the world of dance,” enthuses Faten Ali-Munger, the first international resident artist at the Garfield Park Arts Center. “And we are all living and working in Indianapolis but also performing all over the country. People think if you get [something] from the outside it is better. Better is using our own talent.”

“What we have here is not just art on walls,” states Robin Sturgis, manager of Garfield Park Arts Center. “When we opened as the only city-operated arts center in January 2006, I was looking at what niche was not being met. There are so many treasures right here with ever-changing faces and influxes of cultures it was natural for us to be an arts center to reflect the face of the city.

“Faten was the first person I called. She is a jewel who has been here 30 years. Her six-member troupe, Flores de Seville, performs professionally. She brings flamenco to the center every week. We now have our own Garfield Arts Center Flamenco Company.”

Sergio Avalos is director and choreographer of Ensamble Folklorico, a 38-member company showcasing folk dance from all regions of Mexico. “We reflect the original people before Columbus,” Avalos explains. “When we dance we wear our clothing that is part of our everyday life. They are not costumes, but who we are.”

“It is so important that people are allowed to maintain this identity,” Sturgis adds. “We want this dance program to be an emotional, sensory experience for the audience. The arts are the most ideal way to break down barriers.”

BEMBE is a dance and drum group made up of “gentlemen who are engineers for Eli Lilly,” according to Sturgis. “They bring another dimension to showing how the arts, dance and drumming are part of everyday life for people in all walks of life.

“Fiesta Carnivale! World Dance Explosion Celebrating Indy’s Home-Grown International Dance Stars” will feature Ensamble Folklorico, regional dances of Mexico; Faten Ali Munger’s flamenco and Middle Eastern dance troupe; BEMBE, Afro-Puerto Rican drum and dance; and AfriCaribe from Chicago, plus Tinikling All-Star Children. The event is April 13. A free drum and dance workshop with BEMBE is at 2 p.m. and free performances begin at 4 p.m. (donations invited). The Garfield Park Arts Center is located at 2432 Conservatory Drive. For information, call 317-327-7066 or go to

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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