Photo by Johnny Jackson
Members of the James Jackson Elementary School Dance Team performed an urban contemporary dance routine Saturday.
JONESBORO — First-generation Haitian-American Dupond Merilan stood backstage at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. With his cello in hand, the 17-year-old exuded confidence.
“I’m not nervous,” said Merilan, a member of the Elite Scholars Academy orchestra.
The string orchestra — directed by Dr. David Asberry — was the first of a dozen acts in the Seventh Annual Clayton County Cultural Celebration Saturday.
Charlotte Cain coordinated the event, which was presented by State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) in collaboration with Clayton County Public Schools.
She said the purpose of the annual celebration is “to represent as many cultures and countries as possible, because Atlanta is an international city and a place of multiple cultures.”
The Jonesboro High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard presented the nation’s colors to open the event, which featured acts from Asia, Africa and South America.
Film producer Marlon Campbell and comedian Malachi Blaque emceed the celebration.
“I think the concept is very exciting and very important,” said Campbell. “I think this is vital to showcase different cultural expressions and expand our horizons.”
Campbell is a Scottish-African American and grew up in the culture-rich New Orleans. Blaque is of Panamanian descent on his father’s side, his mother is from Savannah.
Blaque said he was impressed by the organizers’ efforts to expand cultural knowledge.
“It’s an opportunity for people to take a peak into different cultures and get a different perspective,” said Blaque.
Terrell Walker & True Warriors gave the audience a taste of church. The Carrollton-based gospel group gave a praise and worship performance.
Members of the nonprofit Cordao de Ouro Atlanta performed a Brazilian martial arts dance created and developed during colonial times by African slaves in Brazil.
Daniel Lee, 10, of Alpharetta performed as South Korean pop star Psy. Lee, whose stage name is Little Psy, roused the crowd on his impersonation.
Lei Hua-nani’s Hawaiian children dance troupe gave spectators a glance into traditional Polynesian dance.
Erica “Lyrika” Ball-Holmes, an international recording artist from St. Louis, sang with her harp.
Rapper and singer Camille White, of Wake Forest, N.C., also sang to nearly a full house.
A Korean drum dance and traditional Korean dancers were also part of the featured acts.
Youngsters from Eve Hao Dance Studio out of Alpharetta performed Chinese ribbon and bamboo dances to the cheers of the audience.
Jonesboro’s own James Jackson Elementary School Dance Team performed an urban contemporary dance routine.
Nyrita Sankalpa dramatized a classical Indian dance called Bharatanatyam.
The Ankafo African Drum and Dance group gave the finale performance with a traditional drum talk piece from the Malian Empire. The dance was a Lamban dance from Mali West Africa.