Folklorama Ethno-Cultural Arts Feature

Pamela Rebello O.M.

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The India School of Dance, Music & Theatre Inc. has long-standing roots that intertwine with those of Folklorama. In fact, the idea of the South Asian training institute to teach students and showcase artists began in the seventies because of Folklorama. Indian Community leaders recognized that there was a need for a school that would keep the traditions alive and the performing arts authentic and relevant, even though far from the source of tradition in India. The idea came to reality in 1983 when India School of Dance was incorporated as an independent, registered non-profit organization. Today, instruction is provided in Classical and Contemporary Music, Classical Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Folk and Tribal, and Bollywood art forms.

Not only was Folklorama an inspiration for the community to help keep culture alive, but the first members of the Board were active with Folklorama and the entertainment at the India Pavilion.

“Becoming a member and performing under the Folklorama banner has always been an honour and a matter of pride,” states Pamela Rebello, O.M, Executive Director, India School of Dance, Music & Theatre Inc. “We have used Manitoba as our stage, to educate and entertain young and old, to bridge East and West, and stamp our own Canadian identity on our Arts presentations.”

India School of Dance, Music & Theatre also helped shape some of the traditions that we see today at the Folklorama Festival.

In the late 1980s, three women from India School of Dance won top honours during Miss Folklorama. They wanted to be able to share the experience, honour, and title with their male counterparts. The women approached the Folk Arts Council board, made their case, and this is what help lay the ground for the Ambassador program we see today.

“Breaking down barriers is to interact with mainstream, Indigenous, and other ethnocultural groups,” said Rebello. “To join hands and move forward together in our journey towards truth and reconciliation by being receptive and respectful of common themes, from respect for Mother Earth to the heartbeat of pounding drums.”

Over the past 43 years of operations, India School of Dance, Music & Theatre has continuously worked to share culture, break down barriers, and truly be a great representation of Folklorama.  In the last four decades the India School has won the ‘Prix Manitoba’ Award for outstanding work in the field of multiculturalism (1987) and First Community Leadership Award by the Asian Heritage Society in 2019.

From the small beginnings of only 25 students, the School now accommodates over 150 students and teachers. Folklorama is proud of the partnership with the India School of Dance.

If you want to become an organizational member of Folklorama and help keep your culture alive and thriving, contact Katie Green, Coordinator Member, and Festival Services at

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