The Art of Festál

One Tired Tourist in Venice by Joel Patience, Italian Festival

From the earliest markings to contemporary multimedia installations, representations of culture and tradition have been expressed through visual media. The art and artifacts on display in the Art of Festál exhibition all represent both individual and cultural expressions and are as diverse and distinct as the Festál program itself. Learn the history of the Festál program from its inception 20 years ago, and see how it’s grown and expanded throughout time.

Wander through the galleries to take in art expanding the entire 20th century and beyond, from 1940’s prints from Poland, to Lebanese contemporary paper works, to contemporary representations of Italian life. Themes explored range from historic artifacts to contemporary ideas of belonging, place, and beauty.

Festál organizations represented include: Arab Festival, Hmong New Year Celebration, Italian Festival, Live Aloha, Polish Festival Seattle, and TurkFest.

The Art of Festál will be on view in the Art Not Terminal Gallery  May 26 – May 29 11am – 7pm

Swing on in!

By Dean Paton, Community Coordinator

I began swing dancing because of an injury. I had been a lifelong baseball player and throughout my thirties and early forties I played both hardball and softball. In the summer of 1993 I broke a bone in my hand—and, for a professional writer, that was serious. I took it as a sign: that I needed to quit playing baseball and find a new physical activity where I wouldn’t have so many collisions with big, fast-moving jocks.

I decided to take up swing dancing.

Immediately, I fell in love with partner dancing. I’d actually tried partner dancing a few years earlier, but what I had not understood at the time is that there are actually two drastically different worlds of partner dancing—social dancing, and competition-ballroom dancing. Continued below


Looking for a chance to jitterbug, foxtrot or swing? Don’t miss these swing showcases at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival!

Hot High School Swing Dance Presented by KNKX

Friday, May 26, 3-6pm, Armory Court

Swingin’ the Great American Songbook

Saturday, May 27, 1-3pm, Fisher Pavilion

Swingin’ Blues or Bluesy Swing?

Saturday, May 27, 6-8pm, Fisher Pavilion

Western Swing and Alt Country Ass-Kicker Wake-Up

Sunday, May 28, 11am – 1pm, Fisher Pavilion

West Coast Swing with Seattle Swing Dance Club

Sunday, May 28, 3-4pm, Armory Loft – Dance Workshops

Swing! Swing! Swing!

Monday, May 29, 3-5pm, Armory Court Stage


That dancing you see on “Dancing With The Stars—this is in the competition-ballroom world. It’s dancing, yes, but mostly it’s choreography, where you practice and practice the same moves over and over. And because choreography is a lot of work there’s a tendency to dance with the same partner over and over.Because I didn’t know two worlds of partner dancing existed—like parallel universes of dance—I thought I just wasn’t cut out for partner dancing, and I was so disappointed by this that I didn’t even finish the series of lessons I’d purchased.

It wasn’t until several years later that a friend told me about a different type of dance lessons in Seattle. I took my first series of swing-dance lessons in January of 2004—and I was hooked. It was like a drug. Not long after that I took one of their waltz classes, and suddenly I was hooked on two drugs. I like waltz so much I ended up founding the Valse Café Orchestra, which has become one of the premiere dance ensembles in the region.

History of Swing

By one definition or another, you could say there are seven or nine kinds of dances that go with swing music. There’s the original swing dance—Lindy Hop—which is the dance that started it all in Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. A collection of African American dancers had been developing this new dance, blending Charleston with other jazz steps, and one day a reporter asked one of the dancers what this new dance was called. According to legend, this was very soon after Charles Lindbergh has hopped the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and the dancer, struggling to come up with a name for his dance, blurted out, “It’s the Lindy Hop.” The name stuck.
Jitterbug came along not long after that, in the early 1930s, and without getting too complex, one of the key differences is that Lindy Hop is based on an eight-count footwork pattern, while Jitterbug tends to be centered more around a six-count pattern. Not long after that some of the New York dance studios decided that Lindy Hop was too difficult for many of their white dance students, so they created a dance style they called East Coast Swing. You dance East Coast Swing the the same grand music, but the moves are simplified: not as much rotation, and not always to fast swing.

In fact, “East Coast,” evolved into three variations, depending on the tempos of the music: For slow music—Triple-Time Swing. For mid-tempo swing—Double-Time Swing. And for fast music—Single-Time Swing. The same moves tend to work with all three variations, and this makes East Coast Swing an ideal entry level dance drug. East Coast Swing is where I started dancing.

When Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, along with other cowboy bands, started playing the Great American Songbook (but with a bit of twang), the result was Western swing. Most of the same moves from regular swing apply, but flashy Western swing dancers mix in what they call “lassos and lariats,” which are flashy arm movements, neck wraps, and sweetheart positions that add a bit of “hick” feel to the dance.

In the late 1940s, in Los Angeles, dance teachers created yet another variation, this one called West Coast Swing. Danced in a slot, where dancers move back and forth trading places as if on a track, West Coast Swing is slinkier than other swing-dance styles, and typically is danced to slower music: blues, some funk, and other more contemporary music.

Another dance—not called swing, but danced to extremely fast swing music—is Balboa, where both partners dance pressed against each other and take the tiniest of rapid steps. Finally, from Eastern Europe, came “bug,” a version of swing based on a four-count footwork pattern.

What’s that—nine different dances you can do to swing tunes?

Wait—I’m forgetting Foxtrot, a traveling dance perfect for swing music. I always mix Foxtrot with my swing. I’ll dance a bit of Single-Time Swing and then shift into Foxtrot and dance my partner around the floor a ways, and then, when the music suggests a change, I’ll switch back into swing. Knowing a bit of Foxtrot gives your swing a great second dimension. I can’t imagine doing one without the other.

The Music behind the Swing

What I look for in a great swing band is the same thing I look for in any good dance band—a solid rhythm section. It might sound funny, because it’s the melody players we always hum along with—the saxophones, the trumpets and clarinets and trombones. But people aren’t dancing to the melody; they’re dancing to the bass player, the rhythm guitarist, the drummer and the piano players’ left hand—they’re what drive the dancers, and those musicians are kind of the unsung heroes of a good dance band. Without a solid rhythm section laying down a serious grove, the music loses its cohesion, and dancing become more challenging, even more tedious.

When I’m choosing bands for dance sets at Folklife, I listen first for a solid rhythm section. If a band has that going for it, it usually guarantees a good time for the dancers. After a solid rhythm section, I look for bands that give dancers spaces in the music to “play,” which I guess means places at the ends of their musical phrases where dancers can do freezes, check steps, pivots or other joyful embellishments. Not all bands know how to build such flexibility into their music.

For my money, one of the best—and most unusual—swing-dance sets at this year’s Festival will be on Saturday night from 6 p.m. till 8, when Breakers Yard and The Dunghill Rooster Strutters, both from Oregon, take the stage in Warren’s Roadhouse. Neither band is what we’d call a classic swing band, but both blend blues with swing and Foxtrott-y melodies with an old-timey feel, and I think the combined effect will be irresistible.

Technically, swing is defined by a set of triplets in the music. Northwest bass player Pete Leinonen passed along the best definition of “swing music” I’ve ever heard. It was a statement the great jazz clarinetist, Wm. O. Smith, reportedly told his students at the University of Washington’s School of Music. Simply put, Smith said, “Swing is when everybody gives,” meaning when the band plays the music selflessly, without one player or another trying to be the star.

“When everybody gives” seems like a perfect definition for not only swing music, but also for the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Dean is a longtime Community Coordinator, coordinating the partner dances at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Discovery Zone: Festal Activities, special guests, and more!

As part of the 2017 Cultural Focus: Festal turns 20, the Discovery Zone will host a wide array of activities from around the world. Activities will feature some of the 23 Festal organizations including paper flower making with Dia de Muertos, wreath making and paper cutting with the Polish Festival, learning Arabic through art with the Arab Festival, Paper Marbling with Turkfest, cultural activities with Diwali Festival of Lights and more. Check back soon for a full schedule of activities.

 

 

Special Guests at the Discovery Zone

We are thrilled to welcome Orion and Lakshmi, two very special cows from the ISKCON Vedic Cultural Center to the Discovery Zone this year. Learn about the importance and significance of cows in the Vedic culture and experience a traditional Vedic village. You may even get to feed them a treat as you learn all about these fascinating creatures!

 

Discover Your Inner Artist

Whether you like to rock-out, draw, or experiment with new materials, the Discovery Zone has what you need to be the true artist that you are. Join Nature Consortium to create a Salmon Eco-Sculpture with recycled materials, create your own glass mosaic with Tim Lowell Artworks, drop in and draw with Gage Academy of Art, and learn to create your own Matisse masterpiece with Seattle Children’s Museum. Don’t forget to stop by and jam with School of Rock (Friday and Saturday only) and take home your very own toy boat creation with Center for Wooden Boats.

 

Don’t miss out on all the fun. Hope to see you there!

 

The Discovery Zone is Hitting the Road for Wintergrass!

Northwest Folklife is taking the excitement and fun of the Discovery Zone to the Wintergrass Festival on Saturday February 25. Wintergrass, a family friendly celebration of Bluegrass music, is a four day long festival held at the Hyatt in Bellevue beginning Friday, February 23. We’re thrilled to be partnering with them this year to present hands on activities for the whole family in the Cottonwood Room from 10am-noon on Saturday February 25th . Here’s a glimpse at what you can expect:

Make a HUGE Crankie

Help local artist and musician Dejah Leger to bring this traditional storytelling method to life! Crankies are a way to tell stories through music and art. A long scroll of paper is wound through two spools and inserted into a box with an open viewing screen. Then when you move the paper through the spools the moving images come to life as the story unfolds. Do your part to create a community crankie with Dejah and learn about the history of crankies in the process.

Fiber Arts and Weaving

Learn the tools and techniques of fiber art with Local artists Jill Green and Ann Suter. Using all natural materials, you can weave together your own bracelet to take home. See what kind of colors and patterns you can come up with!

 

Create your own Masterpiece

Doodle, draw, and sketch with the Northwest Folklife coloring station. Use the coloring pages provided, or let your imagination run wild and create something new!

For more information about Wintergrass Festival including ticket information and full lineup visit their website.

Hope to see you there!

Thanks for a great Seattle Children’s Festival!


SCF-Title

At the Seattle Children’s Festival, families not only watch and listen but Play, Dance, Sing, Learn, Taste and Participate!

oolleemmdrum1  Thank you for another fantastic Seattle Children’s Festival! It was a great day of music, dance, art and exploration at the Seattle Center. More than 3,000 of our neighbors helped us to celebrate our BIG neighborhood along with 154 artists with 32 performances across 6 different venues. Families were able to experience all kinds of Folklife, from traditional Chinese dance to beat boxing. And so much more!

Take any good pics at the festival? We want to see them! Post your favorites on Instagram or facebook #folklifekids. We’ll have ours up soon!

We hope to see you all back for the 4th annual Seattle Children’s Festival next year! Mark your calendar for Sunday, October 8, 2017

 

 

Northwest Folklife Partnership: Arts in Nature Festival and Big World Breaks

Big World Breaks

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to partner with the Nature Consortium for the 2016 Arts in Nature Festival. For two full days, the Arts in Nature Festival transforms Camp Long into an intimate and eclectic experience of art and performance, nestled in the woods of Seattle’s only campground. In addition to visual arts, theater and dance, Seattle band Big World Breaks will perform on August 20 at 7 pm. Don’t miss it!

Additionally, you’ll find four intimate performance stages, a Museum of Sound in 8 rustic cabins, hands-on art and nature activities, and winding hiking trails through the great outdoors. Experience works ranging from jazz, classical, indie rock, bluegrass, contemporary dance, marching bands, and interactive sound installations.

For tickets, and more information about the festival including additional music, art and theater performances, visit: http://fest.naturec.org/

Warren's Roadhouse 2015. Photo Credit: Doug Plummer

Let’s Dance!

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Dancing is an important – and fun – part of Northwest Folklife Festival. Just set foot in the Fisher Pavilion or Armory Court stage and you’ll see what we mean. And this year’s no different! At any time during the weekend, you can always jump in and shimmy, Allemande , or do-si-do.

Here are a few dance parties that you won’t want to miss this year:

Hula Dance
Armory Court Stage, Saturday, 2-2:45pm

Learn to dance the traditional Hula with Gloria Nahalea and friends.

Western Swing and Country Barnburner
Fisher Pavilion, Sunday, 1-2:50

Join The Wiretappers, and Wylie and the Wild West for a rootin’, tootin’ barnburner!

STG Dance This
Armory Court Stage, Sunday, 11-12:45

Learn a variety of moves from around the world in this cross cultural dance workshop organized by the Seattle Theater Group.

Singin Squares
Fisher Pavilion, Monday, 2-2:50pm

In the spirit of the Cultural Focus, we’re adding a little vocals to this entertaining square dancing showcase. Join these five singing squares Just Because in the fun! Do we even need to ask why?

Monday Closing Contra
Fisher Pavilion, Monday, 6-9pm

Closeout the festival with a major bang with these three bands with a big sound!

  • Les Capitaines du Jour with Carol Piening, Caller
  • Ryan McKasson and Friends with Woody Lane, Caller
  • Uncle Farmer with Lindsey Dono, Calller

For a full list of participatory dances as well as a full festival guide, check out the schedule here.

Art for Everyone: Paperstock

paperstock 3PaperStock is back at the 2016 Folklife Festival! This year’s focus, Art for Everyone, reflects the variety of prints and posters available at the exhibition.  You are invited to peruse prints from contemporary concert poster artists and silk screen print artists, and you might even find a favorite new print to purchase directly from the artist! Attend an on-site screen printing demonstrations to learn how many of these prints are produced.

 

 

Located in the International Fountain Pavilion Saturday – Monday 11 AM – 7 PM.

Featuring art from:paperstock 1
Farley Bookout
Eric Carnell aka Independence Printage and Fogland Studios
Frida Clements
David and Kelsey Gallo aka Weapons of Mass Design
Mike Klay aka Powerslide Design Co
Chad Lundberg
Andrew Saeger aka Factory 43
Dan Stiles

For the kids and families at Folklife Festival

The Discovery Zone is the place to be for kids and their grownups at the Festival! In addition to music, dance and workshops on the stage, the Discovery Zone is jam packed with hands on activities presented by Folklife partners every day of the festival. If you’re feeling artsy, crafty, or just plain curious, there’s a little something to fit every mood.

A full list of activities available at the Discovery Zone is listed below:

Gage Academy of Art
“Gage Pop-Up Drawing Jam”

Come unleash your inner artist! Whether you are a young Rembrandt, a comic book artist, a stick figure sketcher, or just like to express yourself, Gage presents a chance to drop in and draw at Folklife. Gage provides free professional art supplies, costumed models from bunny rabbits to comic heroes, easels, still life set ups, and lots of encouragement.

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Photo by Christopher Nelson

The Center for Wooden Boats
“Toy Boat Building”

Grab a hull, a mast, and some traditional tools and build your own boat! Decorate it, give it a name, and sail it wherever your imagination takes you.

Seattle Children’s Museum
“Exploring Rhythm”

Hungry for a bite-sized sample of the Seattle Children’s Museum?
Visit our booth to explore marbles, motion, and music, all in the same fun-filled package! Kids can explore independently or collaboratively as they make music with their bodies, marbles, and other everyday materials.

Northwest African American Museum
“Posing Beauty: Finding the Beauty Within”

Inspired by the exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture, families are invited to explore notions of inner beauty through art. Make art cards using word tiles and images to create miniature collages to share or trade with friends and families about what makes someone beautiful on the inside.

Nature Consortium

Folklife 2014 - Friday

Photo by Christopher Nelson

“Discover Nature through Art”

Make your own jewelry, hats, or bird feeders that explore elements of the natural environment and learn the how and why of making art with up cycled materials. In the process visitors can learn how common packaging can impact the world, explore alternative options, and work with ‘trash’ to create art.

 

Light in the Attic Friday and Saturday Only:
“This Record Belongs To _______: An Introduction to the Magic of Vinyl Records”

Light in the Attic Records loves music and so do you! We hope to share our passion by teaching the little ones the interactive experience of holding an album in your hands, putting needle to groove, and immersing yourself in the pages of a record’s sleeve as the music plays.

 

Visual Arts at Folklife

All four days of the Northwest Folklife Festival you can experience a wide range of art in the Fountain Pavilion at Seattle Center, including the multimedia projects of local artist, director, curator, and activist Tracy Rector. You can read more about Rector and her work in Seattle in the Stranger here. Ranging from photography to weaving to mixed media, Rector has organized the following exhibitions which highlight the unique experience of indigenous peoples of the region.

You can visit these exhibitions in the International Fountain Pavilion, Friday – Monday May 27-30th

in·dig·e·nize posters 3

Photo by in·dig·e·nize

in·dig·e·nize
Organized by Tracy Rector and Melissa Ponder

As an unapologetic portrait essay of Indigenous people currently living in the Pacific Northwest, in·dig·e·nize, refocuses our gaze upon the enormous diversity in our region’s Native communities. As a joint legacy project by creative director Tracy Rector and photographer Melissa Ponder, this exhibit honors of all those who contributed to and participated in the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to those Natives who call Seattle home!

Stephen Paul Judd 1

Steven Paul Judd

In Search of Steven Paul Judd

A groundbreaking artist and pioneer in visual storytelling, Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw) will bring to Seattle selections from his pop icon and cultural art creations, prints, digital media, and films. Stay tuned for more information about Judd’s exhibition and interactive opportunities with the artist at the festival!

People of the Salish Sea
People of the Salish Sea is the interactive, transmedia platform for the upcoming documentary film Clearwater, the story of the unique relationship between tribal peoples and the waters of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound). For nearly 15,000 years the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest have called these waters home, and have time and again had to adapt to environmental, social and political changes in order to survive…and now thrive. The exhibition will consist of rich visual art, cultural demonstrations, textiles and in-person experiences that will connect the communities of the Salish Sea to the hearts of the viewing audiences.

Watch an excerpt of the film Clearwater

 

  https://plus.google.com/collection/smKusB Gokkasten + Casino Spelletjes

Wintergrass is this weekend!

wintergrass

Wintergrass Festival, a family friendly celebration of Bluegrass music, is a four day long festival held at the Hyatt in Bellevue starting this Thursday the 28th. At Folklife, we’re thrilled to see such an impressive lineup with familiar names from festivals past and future!

With four stages filled with music, dances, workshops, and jam sessions, you’ll be sure to find something for your Americana, Bluegrass, and fiddle lovin’ heart.

For more information including the lineup and how to buy tickets, visit the website wintergrass.com.

Arts and Nature Festival

 

Arts in Nature Festival. Image by Kim Doyel

Arts in Nature Festival 2015. Image by Kim Doyel

Arts and Nature Festival is an intimate and eclectic experience of art and performance in the woods of Seattle’s only camp ground, Camp Long. Check out highlight’s from last year’s festival here.

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to partner with the Nature Consortium for the 2016 Arts and Nature Festival. Stay tuned for a full line up including acts presented by Folklife!