Justs can’t help smiling in Sabah

Lucie (second left), Veronica (second right) and their friends from Czech Republic


KOTA KINABALU: Justs Patrius Celms, a first-time visitor from Latvia, finds the friendliness of Sabahans so infectious that he just could not stop smiling since he set foot here.

Justs, 20, who arrived in the city three days ago to take part in the 7th Sabah International Folklore Festival 2012 with his dance troupe, said: “We are truly surprised how well organized the event is, and how kind and humble the people are.

“They smile everywhere, and we just can’t stop smiling.”

Interviewed during the KK City Folklore high-tea ceremony yesterday, Justs said it is his group’s first trip to Sabah though another dance group from Latvia had previously participated in the Festival.

He said they will be presenting five dance performances with different tempos and movements.

He said he is keen to see the performances of other countries, as it is a way to study and learn each other’s culture.

He is also keen to check out local handicrafts, and national costumes during the Festival.

Meanwhile, this is also the first visit by the dance troupe from the Czech Republic, whose journey to Sabah was a long one.

Izza (centre) and her dance mates from Brunei.

The 21 performers were divided into three groups, with two staying in Kuala Lumpur for eight and 10 days, while another transited at Hong Kong for two days.

The 21 performers are divided into two aged groups for the festival, one being aged 16 to 30, and the other from 30 to 60.

Veronica Hrnkova, 21, said she believes the Folklore Festival here will be one of the best festivals she has ever participated in.

“What we like is that we can compare different groups, different costumes, cultures, food… and everything!” she exclaimed.

Once again, the dancers commented on Sabahans’ friendliness.

“We can compare to Czech, we are a European country, we don’t smile to everyone, here the people are too warm and nice to us,” said Veronica.

“They are all smiling and asking us ‘How are you’ and asking us about our country,” she said as her dance mate Lucie Nepejchalova, 25, acted as her translator.

As for Izza Zainal, 14, from Brunei Darussalam, this is her third participation in the Festival.

This time, she and her 22-member dance group will be performing two shows at the event.

Izza said she was 11 years old when she last took part in the Festival.

Although she could not recall much from her previous experiences, she said the Folklore Festival this year is particularly well-organized.

At the high-tea ceremony yesterday, the dance groups took turns to entertain guests with their distinct dance styles.

Also present at the event were Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir, First Lady of Nigeria and Benue State Governor’s wife Yemisi Suswam, Sabah Cultural Board chairman Datuk Seri Panglima Wences Anggang, and the board’s general manager Datuk Rosmadi Datu Sulai.

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