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CLEVELAND (April 28, 2010) — A favorite Northeast Ohio family tradition, Parade the Circle returns this summer with an all-new African connection designed to complement the narratives featured in the latest galleries opening at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Presented by the museum in partnership with University Circle Inc, Parade the Circle and Circle Village will take place on Saturday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, with the parade at noon. This year's theme — Zounou Younou Hèrè, Une Porte S'Ouvre, A Door Opens — celebrates doorways as portals of cultural exchange, in which opportunities to share traditions, creativity and innovation abound.
This summer, the Cleveland Museum of Art will open its newest door, unveiling renovated galleries in the first level of its original 1916 building. These galleries showcase the museum's collections of art from the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, Egypt and Africa, as well as art from the Late Antiquity, Byzantine Empire and European Middle Ages.
Just as the art objects in these collections were once integral to the living cultures of their regions and were used actively in daily life, ceremonies, rituals and festivals, the art created by mask makers, musicians and dancers from Burkina Faso, which will be spotlighted in this year's parade, represents the living traditions of the Bwa people of Africa, who reside at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.
Traveling as Troupe des Masques de Boni, the African artists will be in residence in several community centers and schools throughout Greater Cleveland in the weeks leading up to and following the parade. They are led by Yacouba Bonde, master sculptor, mask maker and artistic director of the small village of Boni, Burkina Faso, where he is also the region's chief. Mr. Bonde works with the men, women and elders of the region to choreograph grand masked performances that take place annually in the dry season from January to June. In addition to directing these performances, he oversees the initiation of Bwa youth into the masquerade traditions that transmit ancestral knowledge from generation to generation.
During the last decade, Mr. Bonde has led troupes of 14 to 22 musicians, dancers and mask makers in performances throughout France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. The highlight of these tours was the group's performance at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris in December 2006. In the United States, his Bwa masks can be found in Atlanta's High Museum, the University of Iowa Art Museum and numerous private collections.
This year's parade will commence at noon at the Cleveland Museum of Art and proceed counter-clockwise along Wade Oval Drive and East Boulevard. Before and after the parade, visitors are encouraged to participate in hands-on activities sponsored by more than two dozen University Circle organizations and other nonprofit institutions and to enjoy entertainment and food in University Circle Inc.'s Circle Village. There is no price for admission to the parade or to Circle Village, and activities are appropriate for all ages.
Parade the Circle features a procession of entries and musical ensembles by international and regional artists as well as local schools, community groups, families and individual participants. Parade focuses on artistic expression and creativity, featuring handmade masks, costumes, giant puppets and floats enlivened by dancers, stilt dancers and a variety of other performers. Entries may not include written words, logos, motorized vehicles or live animals or propagandize political or religious viewpoints.
The cost to join the parade is $6 per person. All those who wish to be listed in the printed program must register by Sunday, May 23.
For information about participating in the parade, contact the museum's Community Arts Department at 216-707-2483 or e-mail inquiries to neisenberg [at] clevelandart.org.
Parade Workshops Begin May 7
Once again this year, the Cleveland Museum of Art will offer workshops for individuals and families seeking help preparing for this year's Parade the Circle. Participants hone mask-making, costume building and large-scale construction skills, with the assistance of staff artists who help with the creation of masks, costumes and puppets made from papier-mâché, cloth and recycled materials.
Passes offer access to a month-long series of basic workshops held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout May and June. Individual passes are $50, while family passes are $150 for up to four people ($25 for each additional family member.) Although workshops are open to all ages, children under the age of 15 must register and be accompanied by an adult. Parade entry is included in the workshop registration fee. Group rates and scholarship assistance are available.
Basic workshops will be offered:
Special drop-in sessions on stilt walking will be offered by Canadian stilters Brad Harley and Rick Simon on Saturday and Sunday, May 15 and May 16, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The sessions are free to all; children must be at least 10 years old to participate.
Pass holders may only order stilts during stilt weekend for $60. After safety training, participants may keep the stilts. Guided practice workshops in stilt safety and dancing on stilts are free to pass holders and will take place on Saturdays, May 22 to June 5, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. for novice students and on Sundays, May 23 to June 6, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. for advanced stilters. Register for all workshops or the parade during any workshop.
For questions, contact the museum's Community Arts Department at 216-707-2483 or e-mail inquiries to neisenberg [at] clevelandart.org. More information about workshops is available on the museum's website at www.ClevelandArt.org .
About Parade the Circle and Circle Village
From its humble beginnings with only 125 participants and approximately 1,000 spectators in 1990, the annual Parade the Circle celebration, now in its 21st year, has grown into an area-wide cultural event drawing tens of thousands of spectators and 2,000 parade participants. Despite the increased interest over the years, the event has remained true to its original purpose of drawing on festival traditions from throughout the world to help people of all ages and backgrounds create unique costumes and floats side by side with professional artists.
Parade the Circle is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Circle Village is organized by University Circle Inc. Parade the Circle is sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ernst & Young, KeyBank and Maison Française de Cleveland. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit www.ClevelandArt.org. More information about University Circle can be found at http://www.universitycircle.org.