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Emily Kalo: “It’s so important that groups from different cultures can come together and celebrate diversity.”

Chai and Rusalka share the stage at the 2016 conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The two groups will team up again on June 7.

There’s No Debate-Chai serves as creative outlet for its members

May 9, 2018

Emily Kalo recently returned from the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in South Africa where she finished 12th overall among 130 high school students from 12 countries.

She can argue just about any point, but when it comes to her passion for Chai, there’s no debate.

“I remember seeing Chai perform at Folklorama and Yom Ha’atzmaut when I was six,” says Kalo, a grade 12 student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education. “When I was accepted into the group it was the fulfillment of a dream. I got to perform with my sister (Stephanie), meet new people, and learn more about my Jewish culture.”

Before joining Chai in 2016, Kalo trained in dance for 10 years, including four years competitively. When she was competing, there was little time to do anything else.

“When I joined Chai, I was able to still dance at a very high level,” says Kalo, “but I could pursue other things, too, like student council, public speaking, and volunteering in the community.”

That’s not to say that being in Chai is an easy gig. As the June 7 “Woven Threads” concert approaches, the 30+ dancers, musicians, and singers are rehearsing about a dozen hours a week. For the performers – all volunteers – it is a labour of love.

“Chai attracts trained, high-end performers who are looking for a creative outlet for their talents while they pursue other endeavours in life,” says David Vamos, Chai’s Vocal and Artistic Director. “We even have full-time professional musicians who volunteer with Chai simply because they love the art we create.”

On June 7, Chai will be sharing its art alongside four other dynamic performance groups. “Woven Threads” is designed as a multicultural extravaganza celebrating diversity and friendship through music and dance. Chai is sharing the stage with the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble—representing Winnipeg’s Ukrainian community—and  there will be guest performances by the Aboriginal School of Dance, representing Winnipeg’s Indigenous community; La Troupe Jeunesse de l’Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge, representing the Franco-Manitoban community; and Magdaragat Philippines, representing Winnipeg’s Filipino community.

Sharing the stage with Rusalka will be especially exciting for Kalo as it takes her back to her very first Chai show, performing with Rusalka at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference at the RBC Convention Centre in 2016.

“That concert is still my Chai highlight,” says Kalo. “When we struck the final pose with Rusalka, fireworks were set off outside the huge windows and people were cheering for both groups. It was beautiful and powerful. It’s so important that groups from different cultures come together and celebrate diversity. It’s the best thing we can do right now.”

At “Woven Threads” Chai will honour long-time supporters, Tova and Larry Vickar. Honorary Co-Chairs for the event are David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation; Bob Freedman, former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg; Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, a former federal cabinet minister; and Blair Yakimoski, MLA. David Greaves and Howard Morry are serving as Campaign Co-Chairs.


?Sponsorship opportunities and concert tickets are available through the Chai office. Please contact Reeva Nepon for more information – (204) 477-7497.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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