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EMBRACING THE ARTS ANNUAL NOHO CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHTING VALLEY CULTURE.

Byline: Rachel Uranga Staff Writer

NORTH HOLLYWOOD - Thousands strolled among painters, poets, performers and would-be stars Saturday in the Valley's spotlight on the arts - the 12th annual NoHo Theatre and Arts Festival.

Created more than a decade ago to lure patrons to the community's burgeoning theater district, the festival has flourished. This year, photographers, painters and sketch artists joined the lineup, said Nancy Bianconi, the festival's managing director.

``It's really cool,'' explained Veronica Lugo, an 11-year-old dancer with the San Fernando Valley-based Bolivia Andina dance troupe.

Dressed in a beaded maroon dress, she performed a modern interpretation of the caporales, a traditional Afro-Bolivian dance from slaves renouncing Spanish conquistadors.

``We want to show people our culture, and then they show us theirs here,'' she said.

Another troupe performed poems from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman under a tent while a few feet away vendors sold homemade soy candles and handcrafted jewelry.

More than 20 free daytime performances are also scheduled today with free shuttles to and from district theaters. Tickets can be picked up at the Theatre Circle located on Magnolia Boulevard.

Beyond tackling its original mandate to bring art to the masses, the once-a-year event provides artists a bridge to others in the community.

The North Hollywood district plays host to three dance theater groups, 27 theaters, 67 recording studios and countless artists.

This year's festival follows the release of a preliminary Urban Land Institute report recommending that the Community Redevelopment Agency, which more than two decades ago declared a portion of the community a redevelopment zone, invest more funds in creating an even artsier district. Located in the heart of the arts district, on Lankershim Boulevard between Magnolia and Chandler boulevards, the free festival continues today from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Rachel Uranga, (818) 713-3741

rachel.uranga(at)dailynews.com

IF YOU GO

--WHAT: The free 12th annual NoHo Theatre and Arts Festival.

--WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

--WHERE: Lankershim Boulevard between Magnolia and Chandler boulevards.

--For more information, go to www.nohoartsdistrict.com

CAPTION(S):

photo, box, map

Photo:

David Lee of North Hollywood sells paintings in a tent at the festival on Saturday.

Matthew Simmons/Special to the Daily News

Box:

IF YOU GO (see text)

Map:

NoHo Festival
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 16, 2004
Words:380
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