CONCORD -- Growing up in the northern China city of Tianjin, Carl Yu remembers watching the performers of Tianjin Children's Palace and how they showcased the multifaceted Chinese culture through dance.
Established in 1956, the after-school program, that Yu said is implemented in other cities, encourages participation in such extracurricular activities as dance, music and sports. The Tianjin Children's Palace showcases its dance performances which Yu said is the highlight of the program.
"This is a nationwide organization and every city has their own program," said Yu, who migrated to the Bay Area in 2000. "All over China these programs give kids a wonderful opportunity after school. These are talented kids."
The Tianjin Children's Palace dancers will be coming to Todos Santos Plaza to take part in the 11th annual Diversity Spring Festival on May 3.
Longtime Concord resident Richard Eber said that when he first moved to Concord from San Francisco more than 30 years ago, Concord wasn't as ethnically diverse then as it is today.
"Diversity is a way of life for us," said Eber, who works in an international shipping business with Yu. "As such, I'm pleased to assist in a project like this that furthers understanding of people in the world. We have an opportunity to bring a group like the Tianjin Children's Palace to Concord."
He approached Diversity Spring Festival founder Dr. Harmesh Kumar last year about adding different types of performances to the festival.
Kumar, founder of the Concord-based South Asian Behavioral Health and Training Foundation, said that after misplaced anger and public backlash resulting from events of 9/11, he thought of holding an annual festival in Concord that helps bring people together. The festival is presented by the foundation and Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.
"America does not have a specific food, or color or language," said Kumar, a member of the interfaith council board. "All of us are united. We're looking forward to a special performance from our Chinese friends. This is what it means to embrace harmony and to create global harmony."
Area residents will have the opportunity to see the Tianjin Children's Palace dancers, who have performed in Canada, France and England.
"All people know about Chinese culture and dance is kung fu and the lion dance," said Yu, who works in Concord and lives in Danville. "But actually in China, we have a lot of traditional dances that Americans have never seen before."
Some of the performances include dragon dance, drum play, Tibet dance and Mongolian dance.
Yu said that appreciation for the Tianjin Children's Palace is a family affair. Helping Yu, his Tianjin-based brother-in-law, is the director of Tianjin Children's Palace.
"This time we will bring real traditional Chinese folk dances and unique musical instruments," he said. "Our long-term vision is we want to show people in the United States what real Chinese culture is like and use this Concord festival as a start so we can promote other events like this."
The festival will also feature various performances from other artists all over the county and the East Bay.
"I think this is a wonderful opportunity for families to celebrate different cultures that are well-represented in our community," Eber said.
WHAT: 11th annual Diversity Spring Festival
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 3
WHERE: Todos Santos Plaza, at Willow Pass Road and Grant Street, downtown Concord
COST: Free admission