Folklife 2014 - Friday

Speak Out!

When communications theory philosopher Marshall Mcluhan wrote “the medium is the message,” he could very well have been referring to hip-hop.  MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, break dancing and graffiti writing are more than just an art or a performance style.

6NtheMorning COVERDr. Daudi Abe, professor of Humanities at Seattle Central College and author of 6’N the Morning: West Coat Hip-Hop Music 1987 -1992 & the Transformation of Mainstream Culture (Over the Edge Books, 2013) calls hip-hop “a living cultural movement.”

“American rapper, singer, and actor Ice-T said rap is something you do – hip-hop is something you live,” he notes. “In the 80s, if you listened to underlying messages, hip-hop was a portent, a warning, for what was going to happen next. Similar to a news broadcast, it was a lot more political than the general public realized.”

During the 70s and 80s, Seattle was known for its rock ‘n’ roll. Natives like Jimi Hendrix and Nancy and Ann Wilson (Heart) were giving global attention to the “Emerald City.”  But alongside rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop was emerging here, sparked by New York City’s hip-hop culture.

“From the beginning, hip-hop was very much about challenging the status quo – this was especially true of graffiti art,” says Dr. Abe. “During the late 60s and early 70s, hip-hop was a response to repression. Young people felt disconnected and marginalized from mainstream culture.  It was the first medium to give fearless, explicit voice to young, black males. It was used as a way to push back, tell who you were, where you were from and to make your mark.”

Over the past 40 years, Hip Hop culture has seen dramatic changes since its early start on independent record labels. Edgy experimentation has given way to conglomerate blueprints. Within mainstream acceptance, it has evolved. Critics worry the “essence of hip-hop” and its “news broadcast” may have been compromised in the process.

But amidst this change, Macklemore’s multiple Grammy wins suggest hip-hop is becoming part of a larger narrative and a platform on which anyone can make a culturally relevant political stand. And as in its beginnings, it’s still a potent lens through which the artist views the world.

“Jazz, Reggae, Blues, Hip-Hop – these are all necessary to a vital society because they spring from creative energy within oppressed populations,” Dr. Abe observes. “Life experience informs ones’ views. We have a long way to go. But getting together and talking about these divergent views is the kind of dialogue which will help get us past our differences.  I’m honored to be a resource for Northwest Folklife and to assist in making this year’s cultural focus successful. ”

Volunteer at Northwest Folklife

It’s National Volunteer Week

As we are all gearing up for the festival we would like to take a moment to thank all of our amazing volunteers, past and present for making Folklife the incredible festival it is year after year.

On our Volunteer Application, we ask why you want to Volunteer at Folklife. The responses we get are so thoughtful, heartfelt and illustrate dedication our volunteers have for the festival and the community it creates.

Here are a few of our Favorites:

“Best volunteer event in Seattle. Love interacting with the other volunteers and being a part of a great community event.” Carolyn Brenner, volunteer of 33 years 

“These are my people, and this is my history.” Elke Schoen, volunteer of 30+ years

“My family has been part of this festival for my entire life, I deeply value what this festival means to our community. I am glad to be a part of it!” Adrian Braxton, volunteer of 5 years

Many of our volunteers have been a part of our organization for 20, 30, even 40 years and we are proud to have such dedicated individuals be a part of what we do. Whether you help us with preparation in the office, greet Festival participants, assist with registration or deliver coffee to vendors, you are a crucial part of our organization and are greatly treasured. Thank you.

Northwest Folklife honors volunteers through our Appreciation Program which takes place on Monday May 25th in the Volunteer Registration room.

Volunteers are encouraged to stop by on Monday and grab a gift and see if they have won a prize through the Volunteer Raffle!

If you are interested in volunteering but have not filled out an application- it’s not too late! Email volunteers@nwfolklife.org for more information.

Seattle Youth Poet Laureate 1

Seattle Youth Poet Laureate

Seattle PoetThis year at Folklife we are excited to announce that the City of Seattle is holding its inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Program. The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate aims to identify and honor local young writers and poets who are not only talented literary artists, but demonstrate a commitment to “civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity and education across Seattle.”

Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program (SAL/WITS) and Urban Word NYC have joined together to create the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program, supported locally and nationally by Northwest Folklife, Penmanship Books, and the Academy of American Poets.

Applications are currently being accepted from writers ages 14-19. The top eight finalists will perform during the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Commencement Performance, which will be held during the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival, Saturday May 23 at 1:00 p.m. in the Cornish Playhouse. At the performance, a panel of four judges will decide the winner. Along with being dubbed the 2015 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, the winner will receive a book deal to publish their first book of poems and be able to travel across the city on a book tour.

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate will attend events throughout the year, providing a platform to share their voice with the City of Seattle. The ideal candidate will be someone with not only great leadership skills, but a strong love for Seattle as well. Winning this title means that you will represent the City of Seattle and spread support for arts programs for youth throughout the community.

If this sounds like you, submit an application! Details can be found online here.

The deadline for submissions is April 24, 2015. The 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival will be held May 22-25, at the Seattle Center. The Cornish Playhouse is located at 201 Mercer St., Seattle, WA 98109. Admission is free!

Coolout Network

Raise the Town Out!

Georgio BrownIf reggae is the heartbeat of life, blues the soul, swing the dance, and jazz the conversation, then Hip Hop, with its driving cadence and spirit, could be called the poetry. And certainly no one is more passionately devoted to giving that poetry a voice than artist/filmmaker Georgio Brown.

For over 20 years Georgio has provided a venue for budding and seasoned hip hop artists to showcase their work through the Seattle public access video series, “Coolout Network” and its online “webisodes.” Today Coolout Network can be seen on the following sites: youtube.com/coolouttv, vimeo.com/georgiobrown, and facebook.com/georgiobrown.

With candor and warmth, Georgio says, “There are a lot of talented Hip Hop artists in the Northwest who need and deserve attention. Coolout Network helps get them the exposure and inspiration they need.”

Involved in Hip Hop since its inception, native New Yorker Georgio, while still in high school, got his video production start filming shorts of rappers.

“I grew up in New York in the early stages of hip-hop,” he says. “When I came out to Seattle in 1991, I started making a series of videos which focused on Seattle’s Hip Hop scene. This grew to a program on Seattle’s public access television, “Coolout Network,” which documented what was happening here in Hip Hop – and I think, helped to inspire a lot of people’s art. I’m also an artist, so I like to give voice to other artists. ”

To this end, Georgio is dedicated to sharing the positive aspects of Hip Hop.

“Hip Hop gives people a place where they can freely express their art,” says Georgio. “Mainstream media tends to promote Hip Hop in a negative light – but I prefer to show its positive influence.”

“ It’s taken some time, but I knew what Hip Hop needed was for an artist to come along and bring positive national attention to it – and that other Hip Hop artists would then be inspired to follow their lead. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis winning four Grammy awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance in 2013 did just that. They showed other artists it can be done.”

Georgio has also brought awareness for Hip Hop to the larger Seattle community.

In recognition of his positive contribution to the Seattle community, in 2004, Georgio and “Coolout Network” received the City of Seattle Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Hip Hop. In 2009 he won local filmmaker of the year at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival with a short he shot and produced about the 206 Zulu Nation. Georgio serves on the organization’s Board of Directors, whose members King Khazm and Kitty Wu prompted Governor Jay Inslee to proclaim the month of November as Washington State Hip Hop History Month. And in November 2015, “Coolout Network” was featured at “Experience Music Project,” Seattle’s museum of contemporary popular culture.

The history of Hip Hop in the Northwest dates back to the late 1970s when high school kids from the Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, and Central District areas in Seattle started Hip Hop dancing. Local youth clubs and high schools in south Seattle held competitive dance contests called bop-offs. In the early 1980s, soldiers at Tacoma’s military bases also spawned a hip-hop fan base.

Some of the first Hip-Hop dances in Seattle, held at public-housing recreation centers, featured the Emerald Street Boys and Anthony “Sir Mix-A-Lot” Ray. During this time, “Nasty Nes” Rodriguez also launched the Northwest’s first all-rap radio program, Fresh Tracks, and began airing self-produced tracks by Hip Hop artists. In 1985, the Northwest’s first hip-hop label, Nastymix Records, released Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Square Dance Rap.” Nastymix Records gained national attention in 1993, when Mix-A-Lot won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Hip Hop had launched in the Northwest.

Collaborating with media and technology filmmaker/producer Scott Macklin and Hip Hop historian Mike Clark, Georgio is currently on hiatus from “Coolout Network” to work on a full-length feature documentary about the evolution of Hip Hop in the Northwest. Highlighting three decades of Seattle Hip-Hop history, segments of the documentary will be shown at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Come learn why Hip Hop has become such an enduring, grasssroots part of life in the Northwest.

Douglas Ridings performs Odissi 3

Douglas Ridings Performs Solo Odissi at the Festival

Please enjoy a few words from Douglas Ridings, Odissi dancer and teacher, performing at the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival. Here he has shared with us the background of this unique dance form and what audiences can expect to see in his Festival performance.
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“Odissi” A classical Indian Dance that has a 2000+ plus history and was suppressed under British Imperialism and nearly lost until it was reconstructed after Indian Independence through textual research, sculptural evidence, remnants of old traditions in the Jatra (roving theaters), and the temple tradition sustained by the Maharis, temple priestesses who were married to the deity of the temple and performed dance as part of their offering. I have learned Odissi dance from Dr. Ratna Roy since 2005. Her teacher was Pankaj Charan Das, the adopted son of a Mahari and a seasoned performer in the Jatra. Combining his knowledge of temple ritual and and theatrical savvy of the Jatra, he was a primary force in the modern reconstruction of Odissi and is today acknowledged a the “Guru of Gurus”.

Douglas Ridings performs Odissi 2The piece is an invocation to Shiva in his form as Nataraj (King of the Dancers) and Yogiraj (King of the Yogis). The music I had commissioned while I was India with Dr. Ratna Roy’s help, so I was in the studio dancing with the drummer while the recording was being made. Odia music has elements of both Karnatic and Hindustani Classical Music as well as it’s own distinctive elements. The costume was custom made from an embroidered silk saree as well as filigree silver jewelry and ankle bells. Odisha is well-known not only for its dance but also its textiles, jewelry, painting and cuisine. Odissi dance itself is characterized by its capacity to blend sacredness and sensuality, its lyricism and gracefulness, and its intricate, subtle complexity and isolations.

I have performed many times at Folklife but always before with Dr. Ratna Roy and her group Urvasi. This is the first year I have been invited to dance as a soloist.

I perform regularly in India, under Dr. Roy’s guidance. When I’m there, I teach Yoga to dancers in Bhubaneswara (Rudrakshya) in exchange for dance training with them and home-cooked food!

-Douglas Ridings

YOU can learn Odissi!

Dr. Roy teaches Beginning Odissi at Velocity Dance Center on Sundays at 3 pm and Douglas Ridings assists her.

Douglas Ridings also teaches a class on Fridays at 7pm at Culture Shakti Dance.

 

EMMA LEE TOYODA

EMP’s 2015 Sound Off Winner Plays Festival

EMMA LEE TOYODACongrats Emma Lee Toyoda!

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to introduce EMP‘s 2015 Sound Off winner, Emma Lee Toyoda to this year’s Festival lineup. If you adore artists like Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens, you’ll fancy Emma’s delightful tunes that will invoke a rural aesthetic charm. This Seattle based singer-songwriter has a dainty, but rustic sound that reveals uniqueness in every song. It may be out of season for her ‘Em & Fran’s Christmas Jams’ album (look for those here!), but her melody and beats will allure year-round.

Emma is an innovative young Seattle artist and Northwest Folklife is excited to include her dazzling charm on stage at this year’s Festival. Check back for the schedule announcement in early May to find out just when Emma will appear.

SEE HER PERFORM LIVE AT EMP’S SOUND OFF!

Contra Dancing 1

Contra Dancing

Contra Dancing 1Contra Dance is a traditional American dance in which couples dance in two long facing lines or in groups of four. Affectionately referred to as an “entryway dance” by dancers, contra dance is by far the most accessible of all dances for beginners. Plus it is bodacious fun!

Derived from English and French country dancing, it’s led by a caller who supports dancers with a walkthrough, practice dance before the actual dance begins.

“Imagine being a kid on a merry-go-round with the lights spinning around and you’re just so happy! Multiply that by a million-gazillion times because your arms are wrapped around other people and they’re looking in your eyes with huge smiles on their faces, happy you’re there!” says Sherry Nevins, dance caller of contra dancing. “At a dance there’s a great cycle of energy; the musicians’ music, the dancers responding to it and the caller right in the middle of it. The energy just builds and builds! Every part of it is delightful.

The music played at contra dances includes, but is not limited to Irish, Scottish, Old-Time and French-Canadian folk tunes. Often anchored by fiddle, contra dance bands can include piano, flute, guitar, mandolin, accordion, and in some cases even brass instruments. Northwest Folklife attracts contra dance bands and callers from all over the country. So the quality of the bands is always high – and the callers easy to follow.

This contra dance floor is a friendly place too. Seattle dancers are great dancers but also very open to helping beginners. If you miss a move or mess up, don’t worry! An experienced dancer will be close by to help you out. Or, just pause until the next move and jump back in.

Contra Dancing 2While dancing, you’ll hear the caller use terms like balance and swing or do-si-do. Relax. Other dancers will always help you. And the moves which go with contra dance terms are not hard. Plus once you learn these basic moves, they repeat throughout the dances.

Standard movements include balance: stepping forward and back in four counts to say hello to your partner; do-si-do: walking around your partner: swing: standing in waltz position but spinning faster in a circle with your partner; promenade: walking with your partner around a circle; and courtesy turn: gentlemen with one hand held behind a partner and one in front, walking in a small circle. One person in the couple is the lead and the other the follow. The follow is always held on the right-hand side of the lead. It’s as simple as that.

So come to the Roadhouse and grab your partner for a balance-and-swing. Once you’re tried this style of dancing, you’ll definitely be hooked!

 Photos by Christopher Nelson.

Kukeri Parade

What Is A “Kukeri?”

KukeriKukeri is a plural for kuker which means a mummer. Mummer’s games are traditional Bulgarian rituals for fertility, regeneration and awakening of the earth, performed by unmarried men around New Year and before Lent. The kukeri reinforce the connection between the people and the land. Through their dance and stumping moves, they chase away the old, the cold and evil, and clear the path for regeneration, fertility and the warmth brought by the spring.

Traditionally, the kukeri wear costumes and scary masks made from animal furs and skins, and heavy bells on the belt to produce a loud noise.  The Kukeri Parade at the Northwest Folklife Festival is performed by men from the Bulgarian community in Seattle.

Check out the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival parade in the video below!

 

 

 

"Forest LP" by Frida Clement.

Paperstock 2015: Pacific Northwest Poster Art

Paperstock will return to the 2015 Northwest Folklife Festival, and we’re thrilled!

PaperStock features the prints of many current and popular concert poster artists and silkscreen print artists. Art for everyone is the focus of this exhibition and Festival-goers will be able to peruse art and maybe even find their favorite new print to purchase directly from the artist! On-site screen printing demonstrations will also show attendees how prints are produced – we’re very excited.

Here’s a preview of what kind of prints you can expect to see at Paperstock 2015 – BEWARE… this is merely a preview.

Barry

By Barry Blankenship.

Frida Clements

By Frida Clements.

Mike Klay // PowerslideBy Powerslide Design Co.

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Experience Traditional West African Dance with Sohoyini in Bellevue – FREE!

Sohoyini“Sohoyini” translates literally as ‘one heart’ in the Dagbani language of the Dagomba people in Northern Ghana. Sohoyini was created in efforts to unite cultures and to celebrate our diversity through the beautiful dance and music of Africa.

On March 21, 2015, Awal Alhassan, traditional African percussionist and dancer, will bring his West African dance company Sohoyini to Crossroads Bellevue for a special, FREE performance for families and people of all ages to enjoy. To get you ready for his performance, we asked him a few questions – take a peek!

 

NWFL: How did Sohoyini African Dance form and when? 

Sohoyini was founded in 2005 by Dance Director and Choreographer Awal Alhassan when he moved to the United States from Ghana West Africa.

NWFL: What is the cultural background of your performance/art form?

Sohoyini is a pan-African collaboration of traditional arts embracing the music and dance from the countries of Ghana and Guinea, as well as other cultures from the African continent. Sohoyini means “one heart.”  We celebrate not only our roots, but the branches of our new global culture.

NWFL: What is one thing you want your community to know about your work? 

Sohoyini strives to provide a cultural experience that opens minds and hearts to the spirit of Africa. As a music and dance company, Sohoyini celebrates not only the Dagbon tradition of Ghana, but also that of all traditions and backgrounds in which we share the common belief that as human beings, we are one people. Through this we celebrate the true spirit of Africa. By singing, dancing, and making music, we make the movement towards, “one-heart, one-people.”

4918_511372923224_2880552_nNWFL: What can audiences expect to see and experience at your Crossroads performance?

A performance of celebration that will lighten your spirit and bring happiness to your heart.

NWFL: Tell us about the choreography and some of Awal’s inspirations?

Awal Alhassan is the principle choreographer of Sohoyini Dance Company. Many of the dances from Sohoyini are traditional dances from Ghana and other parts of Africa, which Awal has arranged in a modern form. Awal also has created original dances that he has choreographed for the stage, which incorporate contemporary movements influenced by pan-African traditions.

Awal Alhassan has been an ambassador of the Dagomba Traditions for as long as he can remember. Born into a traditional drumming and dancing family in Tamale, Ghana, he has spent his life devoted to the arts of his culture. In addition to his involvement in traditional ceremonies, he has also been extremely involved and passionate in helping to keep his traditions alive. He has worked with numerous performance groups throughout the world, entertaining and educating people of virtually all cultural backgrounds.

Awal has been a professional dancer since he was a young boy. Most notably, Awal was a member of the Centre for National Culture, as well as the National Dance Theatre of Ghana.

NWFL: How did you first come to be involved with Northwest Folklife?

Awal Alhassan has performed with countless groups at Northwest Folklife in the past, including his own Sohoyini Dance Company.

Save The Date!

Learn more here.

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You’re Invited! La Peña Flamenca de Seattle Performs this Saturday in Bellevue

This Saturday, Northwest Folklife and Crossroads Bellevue have programmed an incredible cultural evening with La Peña Flamenca de Seattle! We sat down with Rubina Carmona to get an inside look at all that is La Peña Flamenca and more – take a read!

La Peña Flamenca de SeattleNWFL: How did La Peña Flamenca de Seattle form and when?

RC: La Peña Flamenca de Seattle was formed in 1995 as a performance opportunity organization for the guitar, dance and singing students of my husband, Marcos Carmona and myself.

NWFL: Can you tell us a little about the cultural background of Flamenco?

RC: Flamenco music and dance come from Southern Spain, and have been developed and performed most notably by the Gypsies of that region.

NWFL: What is something you wish the greater community to know about your work?

RC: I’d like the audience to realize how international the appeal of flamenco is.  I’ll  be featuring dancers and musicians from Austria, Russia, Philippines, Chile, Argentina, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States.

NWFL: More specifically, what can audiences expect to see from these dancers and musicians?

RC: We will be presenting some ensemble work, with all the dancers, some short solos, and live music by guitarists and singers to accompany the dances.

NWFL: Who choreographs your work – how do you create a piece? What are your inspirations?

RC: I basically choreograph the dances, although I’m now being assisted by my advanced students.  All my students have learned to choreograph their own solo material using the materials or “vocabulary” I have taught them.  My inspiration is the music–the singing style determines the spirit and content of the dance.  I listen to examples of singing and guitar and do what the music tells me, and my students have learned to do the same.

NWFL: How did you first come to be involved with Northwest Folklife?

RC: I have been involved with Northwest Folklife since we first moved to Seattle in 1988.

NWFL: Have you heard about the 2015 Cultural Focus (“Beats, Rhymes & Rhythms: Traditional Roots – Today’s Branches”  - basically roots of hip hop) and what do you think?

RC: I have heard of this year’s cultural emphasis.  The evolution of American pop music, blues, jazz, hip-hop parallels the evolution of flamenco, tango, fado, rembetiko and other “urban blues” forms around the world.  The songs deal with very similar subject matter.

FOR MORE ON HOW TO SEE THIS INCREDIBLE SHOW – CLICK HERE.

Folklife 2014 - Friday

Programming & Marketing Internship Opportunity

Come work with us! We are looking for an enthusiastic person to come learn about Northwest Folklife, what it takes to put on a Festival that attracts a quarter million people in the span of just four days – a Festival featuring over 5,000 performers from over 60 cultural communities – and someone who is eager to support the effort. Read on for job details, and don’t be shy… share with friends so we can find a great fit.

Northwest Folklife Programming & Marketing Internship

Interning at Northwest Folklife can be the experience you need to gain a career in event planning, festival production, the music industry, nonprofit management, marketing, fundraising and a whole host of other fields. Interns at Northwest Folklife take on a significant role in executing the largest free community arts festival in the nation and learn how to increase visibility and strengthen the sustainability of a nonprofit organization.

Before you apply:

  • Housing and transportation are not provided. Prospective interns should carefully consider their financial needs as the internships are unpaid.
  • Start and end dates, hours per week, and days of the week are all negotiable based on the intern’s availability
  • All applicants must be able to commit to working Memorial Day weekend, (May 22rd – 25th, 2015) NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Academic credit for internships must be arranged by the intern with their sponsoring institution. Academic credit is up to the discretion of the intern’s college or university
  • Computer resources are limited; prospective interns with laptops are encouraged to apply

Title: Programming & Marketing Intern

Internship Length: Now – June 2015

Hours per week: 15-25

This Internship is central to the programming Northwest Folklife has to offer. This Intern plays a key role in ensuring smooth festival production from a programming standpoint.

Responsibilities

  • Work with the programming staff on Northwest Folklife’s public programs, which include organizing and scheduling specific areas of the annual Northwest Folklife Festival
  • Assist with research, telephone and face-to-face contact with representatives of different ethnic, regional and occupational communities from the Pacific Northwest
  • Complete tasks such as data entry, initiating and following up on correspondence, managing travel for out-of-state performers, scheduling performers
  • Assist in the composition of short articles for the festival program guide or for Festival publicity
  • Help manage performer information for other departments for Northwest Folklife’s use
  • Assist with creating the festival fundraising pitch schedule by working with both the programming and development departments
  • Assist Programming department during the Festival as needed

Requirements

  • Strong communication skills
  • The ability to work as part of a fast-moving team
  • The ability to work with grace under pressure
  • The ability to deal with small details and connect them to a larger whole
  • Knowledge of or experience with cultural arts in the Pacific Northwest
  • An open mind and desire to discover new kinds of music and dance
  • A working knowledge of Word, Excel, Outlook, and databases
  • Ability to work individually as well as in groups
  • A desire to obtain the skills for event production
  • Strong organizational skills
  • A healthy sense of humor

Additionally, anyone with a love of music, arts, and culture is encouraged to apply.

Identified Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn to program performances for large-scale festival production
  • Develop an understanding of event production by working with programmers, production teams, volunteer coordinators, and development teams
  • Create and compile technical requirement books and tech sheets/stage plots for stages and stage managers (an essential skill for anyone interested in a programming career)
  • Gain networking skills – make connections with artists, performers, sponsors, and production teams

To Apply:

Please attach your resume and cover letter to an email to hiring@nwfolklife.org with Programming Internship and your name in the subject line. Although we prefer electronic methods, you may also submit your resume to:

Northwest Folklife

Attn: Programming

305 Harrison St.

Seattle, WA 98109

This position is open until filled