The phrase “rich ethnic and cultural diversity” seemed like an understatement at last Saturday’s (Feb. 24) Cultural Rhythms extravaganza as the audience was treated to a Vietnamese dance troupe that was preceded by a syncopated combination of salsa, rueda, and mambo by the Candela Salsa Troupe and followed by the Harvard Breakers b-boying, popping, and locking. And if that didn’t float their boat they only had to wait a couple of minutes or so and they could watch Chinese martial arts, Indian dancing, and South African Gumboot stepping. The 22nd annual Cultural Rhythms was, as always, sponsored by the Harvard Foundation, and was, as always, an inspiration as well as an entertainment.
This year’s event was energized by the appearance of the Artist of the Year Laurence Fishburne, the mightily accomplished actor, director, producer, and humanitarian. The Academy Award nominated Fishburne has been a screen actor since the age of 15 when he won a starring role in “Apocalypse Now.” Since that time, he has distinguished himself in dozens of film, stage, and TV roles. He has won both a Tony and an Emmy.
Fishburne was recognized by the foundation for his humanitarian contributions, which include his service as a UNICEF ambassador. He has visited Africa several times to educate youth on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, and, in 1999, lobbied the U.S. Congress for approval of funding for UNICEF programs.
– Alexander Paul