With addition of Beaverton International Celebration this year, Party In the Park recognizes city's new faces
With more than 90 languages spoken by students in the burgeoning Beaverton School District, it's a sure bet the melting pot that makes up the wider city is gathering new traditions and ethnic groups each year.
That's why organizers of Party in the Park, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District's signature event, decided to add an international flavor to the daylong celebration this year: the Beaverton International Celebration.
Set at the Howard Terpenning Recreation Complex on Southwest Walker Road, it'll be chock-full of dancing, theater, music, art, crafts and food from across the globe, all highlighting cultures whose representatives call this area home.
'It's quite significant because the event truly will be a celebration of diversity,' said Bob Wayt, park district spokesman.
According to the most recent census, Beaverton's population of 76,129 was 76 percent Anglo in 2007. But nearly 14 percent of residents were Hispanic, 13 percent were Asian, 3.1 percent were African American and 2.5 percent were American Indian - not to mention nearly 9 percent who represented other races and cultures.
'Almost half the population now is non-Anglo,' said Wayt. 'The face of our community has really changed in recent years.'
Adding that the 2010 Party included 'a limited diversity component,' Wayt noted that when planning for the mid-summer event started gaining steam, it seemed natural to go with a diversity-oriented flow.
The park district went so far as to engage the talents of Erin Hickey, event coordinator for Beaverton Mayor Dennis Doyle's office and an expert in diversity outreach.
She's put together a full slate of performances and activities, all slated for action on the complex's Northeast and Northwest stages, starting at noon and running until 5:30 p.m.
Dance and variety show
Among the acts are Masque Alfresco, a nonprofit theater group that performs classical and modern plays throughout Portland; All Ireland's Tir Eoghain Ceili group, which brings a dance and variety show to the stage; and Jayanthi Raman's Bharantha Natyam troupe, which performs Indian folk dances for audiences across the metropolitan area.
'What we do is very different,' said Raman, who has taught in the Beaverton community for more than 20 years. 'Our dances are from southern India, and the performers are learning this art form as a way of bridging to their cultural roots.'
Calling the Party and this year's international celebration 'one more great opportunity to present our dance form to Beaverton,' Raman said she looked forward to demonstrating the fruits of her students' training in Indian Kalakshetra.
'It's a very good way of knowing who you are and sharing your culture with your community,' she added.
For Fayra Teeters, Masque Alfresco's artistic director, the Party represents an exciting part of her troupe's summer tour in parks on Portland's west side. The group will present a half-hourlong adaptation of French writer Moliere's 'The Miser,' featuring a loosely scripted farcical plot that 'shows how, when the head of a household is out of whack, others become dysfunctional too,' said Teeters.
'It's hysterically funny,' she said of the play, which represents the commedia dell'arte genre, a theatric form spawned in 14th century Italy.
'It soon spread to Spain and England,' Teeters said. 'One of its hallmarks is that once actors were cast in a particular part, they had that part forever, no matter how old they grew.'
Beaverton residents V. Spencer Page, Nan Frederick, Rian Turner, Kenneth Dembo and Elizabeth Houghton will be part of Masque Alfresco's theatrical team at the Party.
Some political references (one about Donald Trump), as well as jabs at misbehaving celebrities - such as Charlie Sheen and Hugh Hefner - will be included in the act.
'We slam celebrities and do a bit on national politics,' Teeters said. 'Our costumes have a deliciously Mediterranean flavor, and it's all very colorful and enjoyable.'
Songs of Ireland
The music, song and dance of Ireland will come alive on stage as the All-Ireland Cultural Society of Oregon makes its debut at the Party.
'We were very happy to accept our role to help preserve the Irish culture,' Sam Keator, a teacher and spokesman for the AICS, said of his group's invitation to the Beaverton International Celebration.
Also known as the Tir Eoghain Ceili group, All-Ireland's show has evolved from a dance show to a full variety show that 'dazzles audiences with spirited dances' and a kilt-wearing performer or two, Keator noted.
Middle Eastern, African, Spanish, Indonesian, Korean and Polynesian influences also will be seen and heard as a dozen other groups take to the stage at the Party. A complete slate of performances is listed on THPRD's website, www.thprd.org/eventspartyinthepark .