They came together to celebrate dances from around the world.
But a greater beauty came forth in recognizing the cultures on display were just as much those of the Fox Cities.
The second annual Rhythms of the World event took place at Houdini Plaza on Saturday during the Downtown Appleton Farm Market. Hundreds watched on as well as participated in dances representing a variety of cultures.
The large and joyous crowd didn’t bring surprise to organizer Balakuntalam Sridhar.
“People in Appleton are welcoming, open minded and willing to experience something new,” he said.
Salsa Manzana, a salsa band of the Fox Cities, opened the morning. The event included folk dances from India, Hmong dances, Latino dances and music of Ireland, Brazil, Indonesia and Peru.
Rayon Brown, DJ for the event and director of diversity and inclusion at Fox Valley Technical College, said dance provides a welcoming, colorful way of highlighting and celebrating our diversity.
Those representing the Menominee Nation traveled the longest distance.
“This is their land and we wanted to honor that, as well,” he said.
The event came together through a broad coalition of Fox Valley organizations including the Building for Kids, the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region, IndUS of the Fox Valley, FVTC and the Appleton Public Library.
Sridhar said the event aimed to draw attention to the unique elements that our variety of cultures bring to the community as a whole.
“Awareness lead to access,” he said. “Access leads to affirmation and celebration.”
The event wasn’t one of performers and audience.
Participation was encouraged, whether it Menominee dance or hip hop.
Organizers say the arts open doors.
On Saturday, it was dance. And tomorrow, conversations become more comfortable as result of that sharing.
“It’s important for us to understand each other,” organizer Sri Buddi said. “Communication cannot be one way.”