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Carnival of Wonders director-choreographer Christopher Childers, left, and co-founder David Oliphant, far right, present a donation to Coastside Hope Community Development Director Keith Terry just in time for the holiday season. Photo courtesy of Alessandra White

In its inaugural season, Carnival of Wonders celebrated the human journey while showcasing both professional performers and women taking their first dance steps on stage. In addition to serving up food for the soul, the performance was also a fundraiser benefiting Coastside Hope. 

Carnival of Wonders founders Christopher Childers and David Oliphant presented Coastside Hope with a $5,000 donation. The pair spent part of Friday with the organization’s Community Development Director Keith Terry. 

“When I read about what Coastside Hope was doing, it just touched me personally,” said Childers. “My mom, who has passed, every year at our recital, it would always be a partial benefit. It was just such an important thing for her. So, for me, this year I was channeling my mom, and I felt her, and the show was such a success. This was a big deal for me.” 

“It’s an honor that they would choose us, because there are so many worthy organizations on the coast,” said Terry after accepting a supersized check. “We are very, very grateful. We rely on the community to support us. The community support is about 20 percent of our operating expenses every year.

“This donation is very helpful to us,” he continued. “It helps us fund our safety net programs. There are a lot of people who need help on the coast. We helped over 3,000 people last year. 

We’ve distributed over 450,000 pounds of food. Nobody can do it alone, we are here to help.” 

Those who attended Carnival of Wonders came away with a sense of awe, not only because of the performance but because of the everyday women who were brave enough to put themselves out on stage. 

Siobhán Togliatti, founder of La Honda Film, had stepped from behind the camera to take her place on stage. While she danced in college, life had taken her on a different path. It had been a long time since she had laced up a pair of dancing shoes. 

“I did five dances and it was really fun. I’m still kind of glowing,” she said. “It was amazing, and what was really cool was the message of the performance was received so clearly.

“It was about the journey of the transformation as well as celebrating and honoring women’s journeys,” she continued. “We experience loss, pain, triumph, fear, and joy. The performance was honoring all the journeys that we take.” 

The general consensus is that Carnival of Wonders has legs and may likely return next year for an encore performance. This doesn’t surprise Togliatti. 

“We communicated a message and we were able to do something charitable,” she said. “It was the collective that was very powerful.

“Dance for me is almost like a religious experience,” she continued. “Connecting and being connected to our bodies is part of our healing journey. It is my hope that all people can find whatever it is that gives them that same joy.” 

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