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Category: Festivals

June
11th

Tacoma’s BQDanza brings giant puppets to Art on the Fly, kicking off the Seattle International Dance Festival this weekend

A dancer in puppet costume plays with Naomi Jacobsen at a PLU rehearsal. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti
Avalon Ragoonannan, wearing a bride puppet, dances with Naomi Jackobson at BQ Danza’s rehearsal for Art on the Fly. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

 

Question: Where can you see giant wearable puppets, audience-controlled marionettes, a Bollywood flash mob and national champion breakdancers all in one day?

Answer: At Art on the Fly, the free outdoor kick-off dance event for Seattle’s International Dance Festival. Art on the Fly happens from noon-9 p.m. this Saturday on Terry Avenue in South Lake Union; while the festival runs June 14-23 and involves emerging and established companies from the Northwest and around the world.

But it’s Art on the Fly, though, that involves Tacoma group BQDanza, headed up by our own choreographer Carla Barragan, who is bringing back 14-foot-high Peruvian Paway puppets in a roving performance they’ve been practicing this week on campus at Pacific Lutheran University.

“It’s improvisation…the moment it’s happening it’s just enjoyment (for the dancers),” explains Barragan, as she watches her troupe of five cavort with passers-by in the PLU courtyards. “The performers love interacting with the audience. And mostly the audiences are very respectful, and join in. The hard part is rehearsals, getting it together behind the scenes.”

Along the campus’ shady walkways, the figures stroll like a Diego Rivera painting come to life. Read more »

May
22nd

Sharing tunes: See world cultures and local performers at this year’s Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle this weekend

Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.
Olympia Celtic band Loch Dhu, playing at Folklife this weekend. Photo courtesy Julie Bennett.

For many folk around Puget Sound (and further afield), Memorial Weekend means one thing: the Northwest Folklife Festival. The free festival, now in its 42nd year, celebrates all things folk: music, dancing, poetry and art from as many cultures as you can think of. But it’s not just a draw for the crowds who come to listen and watch – it attracts plenty of local performers who want to be part of one of the biggest folk festivals in the country. Among them are Olympia bands Sunshine and Irony, The Shivas, Grizzle Grazzle, plus a couple of Oly fisherman poets and more – and what they like best about Folklife is the chance to meet and share with other performers.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun,” explains Julie Bennett, a percussionist with no less than four Oly-based bands playing this year’s Folklife: Celtic band Loch Dhu, the Contra Quartet and Olympia Volunteer String Band (both contradance bands) and a pick-up brass marching band. “It’s an opportunity to meet other musicians and share music we know, whether it’s common tunes or new ones.”

And the way that happens is behind the scenes at jam sessions. Before, after and between the many, many scheduled stage performances at Folklife are the jam sessions, where musicians – who all volunteer their time to perform – just play together and have fun. Read more »

April
30th

Tacoma documentary on the MLK Ballet dance company by Mick Flaaen screens next Wednesday at the Washington State History Museum for the Seattle True Independent Film Festival

The Moving Company performs "Funeral" in Mick Flaaen's film "A Funeral Dance." Courtesy image.
The Moving Company performs “Funeral” in Mick Flaaen’s film “A Funeral Dance.” Courtesy image.

Next Wednesday night, two things are combining in the theater of the Washington State History Museum: the Seattle True Independent  Film Festival is making a debut appearance in Tacoma, and T-town filmmaker Mick Flaaen is seeing the final-cut screening of his fascinating 2012 documentary “A Funeral Dance,” capturing the backstage drama at MLK Ballet’s Moving Company as they prepare a new show.

For both festival and filmmaker, it’s a big deal.

“Any time you get into a festival, it’s a big deal,” says Flaaen, who caught STIFF’s attention last year with his short film “Paint” about Tacoma’s graffiti murals. “It’s so competitive now because of digital film. Festivals used to get around a thousand entries; now they’re getting three times that. Sundance got 11,000 entries last year.”

But Flaan is proving he’s got competitive chops. Read more »

Jan.
14th

Newbery book ultra-short film competition opens for Tacoma Public Library festival

Calling all filmmakers, of any age! The Tacoma Public Library is joining in the annual national 90-second Newbery Film Competition and Festival this year, asking for submissions of films that tell the story of a Newbery medal or honor book in just 90 seconds, with screenings of the best videos on February 23.

Anyone can make a film – adult or child –with the only rule being that it needs to tell the complete story of a Newbery winning or nominated book (not just a trailer) in a ridiculously short 90 seconds or under. Submissions are posted as YouTube videos,

Read more »

Sep.
20th

Free for All kicks off a varied and exciting Broadway Center season, with guest appearance by Vicci Martinez

Singer Vicci Martinez, playing the Pantages this Saturday for Tacoma's Fall Free for All festival. Courtesy photo.

Who doesn’t like free dance, theater and music? The Broadway Center knows it’s pretty hard to resist a free show, let alone a free weekend of shows, and for the second year around is kicking off its season with the Fall Free for All weekend of free arts events this Saturday and Sunday to entice newbies into the downtown theaters and give us all a taste of what’s coming up. Headlining the weekend is Tacoma indie singer Vicci Martinez, playing the Pantages Saturday night.

You can download the program pdf on the Broadway Center’s website, but here are some highlights:

-       New this year is Vicci Martinez, the Tacoma native singer/songwriter who went big on NBC’s “The Voice” and has found it hard to schedule her adoring hometown into her gig schedule ever since. She didn’t make it to Art on the Ave – but she’s booked in at the Pantages, so get in line early. 9 p.m. Sat.

-       Also new this year is a scheduled dinner break. No, they’re not giving you a free meal, but at least there’s a two hour break in the performance schedule to allow everyone to refuel at some of downtown T-Town’s great eating places (Two Koi, Matador, Maxwell’s, The Old Spaghetti Factory, El Gaucho, Corina and The Office), where your FFFA wristband will get you discounts. 5-7 p.m. Sat., 4-6 p.m. Sun. Read more »

Aug.
28th

Skyward art and Elvises at this year’s Bumbershoot, on in Seattle this weekend

Most people think live music when they think of Bumbershoot, Seattle’s famous Labor Day weekend arts festival in the Seattle Center. But if you have time in between the bands you came to hear, there’s plenty of visual art too.

“Skyward” is one of the headline visual art exhibitions at Bumbershoot this year, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and the beginning of popular cartoon The Jetsons. Curated by Shelly Leavens of the Gage Academy of Art and metalsmith Jana Brevick, “Skyward” brings together a variety of artists envisioning a future lived in the

Read more »

Aug.
16th

Get involved with art, music and games at the Tacoma Downtown Block Party

Tacoma’s downtown merchants are putting on another block party, and this time you get to be a part of it – literally. This Saturday afternoon and evening the Opera Alley block (Court C between 7th and 9th Streets) will be humming with live music, a DJ dance party, beer gardens with local brew, live painting, food, dance and more – and you get to join in.

“At this festival the line between producer and consumer is blurred…” says the website, and stuff you can do includes a costume photobooth, chalk drawing, mural painting, body painting, a community canvas, music

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Aug.
7th

Skate Like A Girl, plus chalk, dance and watch molten glass at the 4th Annual Hilltop Arts Night Out tonight

If you have restless kids looking for something else to fill the summer with, it’s here: the fourth annual Hilltop Arts Night Out. Glassblowing, music, chalk art, dance, T-shirt design, food and skateboarding reinvent the family arts night in a totally hip way, all between 4-8 p.m. tonight at Jason Lee Middle School.

Led by the Hilltop Artists in Residence, the Jason Lee non-profit program that trains at-risk students in glass art, the Arts Night Out is a free community all-ages event happening on National Night Out, which unites Americans in taking back their streets for safety and community.

Read more »