Draze Maraire and friends, NW Folklife Festival

Perform at the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival!

Grace Love and the True Loves. Photo by Piper Hanson.

Grace Love and the True Loves. Photo by Piper Hanson.

Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors from the Northwest region (from across the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana) to participate in the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, happening May 26-29, 2017, at Seattle Center.

All interested participants, bands, dance troupes, and community organizations must apply to participate in the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival. A hard copy of the application can be requested by emailing programming@nwfolklife.org or calling (206) 684-4189. The deadline for applications is December 15, 2016 (printed applications must be postmarked by December 15).

MUSIC APPLICATION

DANCE APPLICATION

STORYTELLING/SPOKEN WORD APPLICATION

WORKSHOP APPLICATION

PANEL/PRESENTATION/FILM APPLICATION

Mark your calendars for 2017 Folklife Festival May 26 – 29, 2017!

Additional Application Documents if needed: Please click on the following to download. Questions? Email programming@nwfolklife.org or call 206.684.4189

Stage Diagram – word document

Stage Diagram – pdf

Input List – word document

Input List – pdf

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is Northwest Folklife’s signature event, gathering up to 250,000 people from across the region to participate in the four days of artistic and cultural illumination. The Festival is presented each year by Northwest Folklife, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Last year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 performers in 65 different genres of music and dance, from Hawaiian hula to hip-hop and Ireland to India. Northwest Folklife believes everyone is a bearer of folk arts, and we encourage communities to share their cultural traditions, in the hope that interaction with new audiences will enrich the community as much as the audience.

Guerrilla Contra

The More We Celebrate Each Other The Better

Ryan Davis shares his personal perspective: It was Saturday night and I was watching The Banner Days perform at the Vera Project stage after having spent the entire day soaking in all the fantastic music and performances of the 2016 Folklife Festival.  In between songs singer Beth Whitney took a moment to thank the audience for “coming out to Folklife instead of staying home and watching Netflix.” The comment got a bit of a laugh and The Banner Days continued their fantastic set.

The Banner Days

Beth Whitney & Bradford Loomis are The Banner Days, soulful folk duo from shores of Seattle.

For whatever reason that simple statement about not staying home stuck with me. As I was enjoying the festival on Sunday it occurred to me that Beth was tapping into something bigger than Folklife or even Netflix. She was making a comment and thanking the audience for being present and celebrating The Banner Days’ music as a part of the larger celebration known as The Northwest Folklife Festival. It’s something I’ve thought about a bit lately. Before mass media, human beings entertained and celebrated each other with intimate performances to small audiences for thousands of years. They were called tribes, and all human needs had to be met within them including entertainment. Those thousands of years of conditioning created a yearning to be recognized by our peers and to celebrate them in a much more intimate manner than we tend to do these days. Rather than celebrate each other, we have celebrities: people we are highly unlikely to ever meet let alone actually have a relationship with, but there we are watching Netflix and other media and celebrating people we can’t know. This is detrimental to our relationships and how we view each other. Certainly we enjoy very high quality entertainment from incredibly talented individuals, but that’s not the same as cheering for your neighbor as they perform a song, poem, dance, etc. for your entertainment. Something has been lost in that change over the past 100 years or so after radio became common in most American homes.

Guerrilla contra dance breaks out to the tunes of the Charles Street Messengers. Photo credit Christopher Nelson

The Northwest Folklife Festival is one of only a few opportunities our regional community has to really celebrate one another. It gives me hope that there is a tremendous amount of people who are interested in seeing and celebrating their neighbors. The more we celebrate each other the greater the sense of connection and community. A virtuous cycle is started when we take the time to go out and support our friends and neighbors in their artistic and cultural pursuits. We are celebrating one another in a powerful way that lifts all of us and leaves us with a sense of community and connectedness that is very difficult to create in our fast paced always logged-in lives. These celebrations create opportunities for different groups in our community to collaborate and lift each other up, and hopefully in the process the relationships that get developed allow all of us to feel like celebrating–I know I do.

Ryan Davis
Northwest Folklife Board Member

Ryan DavisRyan Davis joined the Northwest Folklife Board of Directors last year. He is the Director of Business & Operations at Pratt Fine Arts Center. As a local musician, Ryan has performed at venues large and small all over the Puget Sound with a number of different groups.

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Northwest Folklife Executive Director Robert Townsend To Retire in Fall 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.04.13 PMNorthwest Folklife Board of Directors today announced that the nonprofit’s executive director Robert Townsend will retire after nearly a decade at his post. Townsend’s tenure has been a remarkable period of inclusion and evolution for the organization that has actively kept pace with the evolving cultural communities of the Pacific Northwest. 

“Robert Townsend’s leadership has made Northwest Folklife relevant and inclusive over the past nine years,” Board President, Rafael Maslan comments. Townsend believed in the importance of reflecting the region’s cultural evolution in the implementation of the organization’s mission. “Rob has laid the foundation for us to move boldly into the future.”

The organization will work to continue strengthening the community through arts and culture as it approaches Northwest Folklife’s 50th anniversary in 2021. The Board of Directors will work strategically to maintain current operations and to recruit a new Executive Director who is committed to the vision of the organization, which is to engage the greater community in sharing and celebrating our respective arts and traditional cultural practices.   

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead Northwest Folklife,” Townsend comments. “The organization’s crown jewel is and always will be the annual Northwest Folklife Festival, the country’s largest community-powered arts and culture Festival. With the enduring support of our dedicated donors, and by working in close private-public partnership with Seattle Center, we’ve been able to maintain our deeply held ethos of all-access. Today, we have grown beyond the Northwest Folklife Festival and we are fulfilling our great capacity to be the go-to resource for multi-cultural programming through our complement of performance events and community partnerships. While the organization continues its upward trend, the time is right for me to move on and to transfer Northwest Folklife’s helm to a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with our stellar staff and our dedicated Board of Directors during the succession period through the end of September, and then to volunteering at the third annual Seattle Children’s Festival on October 9.”

Townsend’s commitment to self-expression and participation for all has created Northwest Folklife’s culture of inclusion in which communities and artists are encouraged and invited into key planning processes. He was the key driver for Northwest Folklife to establish the Seattle Children’s Festival, now in its third year. The organization believes that inspiring a child’s cultural IQ is an important factor in strengthening communities and families. In all, Townsend’s leadership has created space for Northwest Folklife’s evolution to reflect and engage all people of all ages and backgrounds, enhancing quality of life and creating a big neighborhood of the Pacific Northwest. 

Northwest Folklife’s Board of Directors will work with Third Sector Company, a firm dedicated to the continuity of nonprofit leadership, to hire an Interim Executive Director in the short term to conduct the process of selecting Townsend’s successor. They will consider both local and non-local candidates for the position.

READ THE SEATTLE TIMES STORY HERE.

Balkan Performers

Mary Sherhart Shares Her Joy for Folklife 2016

Balkan Performers

L-R Aglika Ivanova VanHorn, Violeta Tihova, Penka Encheva. Photo by Mary Sherhart.

The Northwest Folklife Festival was particularly joyful for me this year and that’s saying something, as I have been involved as a performer in almost every Folklife Festival over its 45-year history. Folklife always offers an opportunity to see friends from near and far as all the different communities in my Balkan music and dance scene converge – Croatians, Bulgarians, Balkan dancers, Balkan choirs and more. Whether it’s meeting for a beer in the beer garden, attending friends’ performances or getting on stage myself, so many new and joyful memories are created each year.

What was so extra special about this year? For one, I was invited to emcee the cultural theme showcase concert at Bagley Wright Theatre, “The Power of the Human Voice through Song,” fabulously curated by Folklife Programs Director Kelli Faryar. As a life long singer, choir director and singing teacher, this theme is particularly close to my heart. This is one of a very few universal themes that unifies humans in a ever more divided world. It was so much fun meeting the artists before the show to ask them questions mining for interesting tidbits to use in my introductions. Icing on the cake, I couldn’t have been more proud to introduce my own choir, Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir, as part of the show. Golly, I was practically bursting with pride. All the women in this choir were born in Bulgaria. They range in age from 25-82 and have developed a close bond through singing and sharing our lives. They looked so beautiful in their traditional costumes and sounded fabulous in that excellent theater. 72-year-old Penka Encheva even received a standing ovation from the audience for her solo. What a moment!

Baba Penka

Baba Penka

Speaking of Grandma Penka, here’s another reason I found Folklife so extraordinary this year. She was featured in two more events! First, she taught a traditional Bulgarian singing workshop attended by 67 people. It was deeply moving to see her surprise and delight. This is a woman who came to the United States in 2010 at age 67, leaving everything and everyone behind in Bulgaria, to help care for her grandsons in Renton. She had been a singer in Bulgaria as a young woman, but followed a different professional path, becoming a middle school biology teacher in Bulgaria. She thought her singing life was long over, but joining our choir brought it back to her. Can you imagine how it felt for her to see 67 mostly Americans turn out to learn songs from her, to receive a standing ovation at a major festival AND have a documentary film about her screened at SIFF.

The Bulgarian Cultural and Heritage Center of Seattle and I produced a 30-minute documentary about Penka entitled “Tazi Baba / This Baba” directed by the talented local filmmaker originally from Bulgaria Bogdan Darev. Folklife screened the film on Monday after Penka’s singing workshop. She was absolutely beaming as she answered questions from the audience in a panel with Bogdan and me. All of this is like a miracle to our Penka.

Finally, it was an incredible privilege to be able to share my insights and experience on a panel entitled, “Building Community By Singing.” Janet Stecker, Fred West, Earle Peach and I have years and years, basically our entire lives, worth of creating and leading people in song. How wonderful to have the opportunity to speak on something that we believe in so deeply. Where else but Folklife?

Come Monday night I was completely exhausted, saturated, fulfilled and basking in a rosy glow. Thank you to the staff, board, artists, volunteers, donors, sponsors, audiences and families. We are so lucky to have this community-powered festival in Seattle!

Balkan Performers

Balkan Performers. Photo by Mary Sherhart.

Blog post by Mary Sherhart, Friend of Folklife. Mary Sherhart is one of America’s leading teachers and performers of traditional Balkan vocal music. Learn more about Mary’s folk art.

Become a Friend of Folklife

PowWow

Welcome to Our Native Land Powwow and Coastal Day Celebrations

MetisNorthwest Folklife will host the 3rd Annual Coastal Jam and Traditional Powwow on Sunday and Monday of the upcoming Northwest Folklife Festival. This exciting two-day programming will include participatory Native American Powwow and Coast Salish dances, drumming, singing and storytelling, along with traditional crafts and Totem Pole teachings. Featured participants will include Coastal canoe families, powwow participants, elders, veterans, artists, singers, performers, youth, families, and tribal leaders.

A highlight of this year’s programming will be the Honoring of Metis Nation Chief and President Bruce Dumont from British Columbia. President Dumont is President of over 70,000 Metis Nation members in Canada and the Pacific Northwest and his visit to Folklife is sure to be a momentous occasion.

The Native-led Welcome to Our Native Land Group collaboratively partners with Northwest Folklife to offer ways for communities to join in cultural celebration, and to program, produce, promote, and facilitate these celebrations. Both days create a supportively respectful place for local Native community and Northwest Folklife Festival attendees alike, thus strengthening a Native presence while offering cultural traditions, practices, protocols, and teachings that will benefit all who participate and observe. Working together, leaders from both organizations strive to deepen collaborations, develop partnerships, break down stereotypes and foster understanding.

 

 

 

 

Georgetown Orbits; Photo by Piper Hanson

Join Us for a Song and a Beer

2015 Festival Crowd. Photo by Piper Hanson.

2015 Festival Crowd. Photo by Piper Hanson.

This year at Folklife, join us for a pub sing along in the Fisher Green Beer Garden all four days of the Festival! Special guests will lead a themed sing-a-long as part of our Cultural Focus “The Power of the Human Voice through Song.”

On Friday catch “Fields Under Clover” from 4:00pm – 5:00pm singing Irish Pub Songs, tunes, and more. Saturday John Bartlett and Rika Rubesaat will be leading “Salty Songs and Shanties” from 4:15pm – 5:15pm. Don’t miss Bruce Baker, David Perasso, and Wendy Joseph singing at the beer garden on Sunday from 4:15pm – 5:15. And finally David Perasso and David Kessler will be closing out with “The Last Pub Sing” on Monday from 4:30 pm – 5:30pm.

Each beer garden will be serving Bonterra Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. As well as a wide selection of beer including: Trumer Pilsner, Bridgeport Brewing IPA, Blue Moon Belgian White, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Fremont Summer Ale, and Crispin Cider.

Click here to RSVP for these events by creating your own personal schedule online!

 

We hope to see you there!

 

Submitted by Lauren DiRe

PreFest Banner

Join us for a PreFest Party!

Naomi Wachira

Let’s commence the 45th annual Northwest Folklife Festival with a soiree!

Please accompany us as we kick off this year’s Folklife Festival with some friendly folks and amusing entertainment. This 21 and over event is a sneak peek on what’s to come at this year’s Festival and will feature The Warren G. Hardings, Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners, Naomi Wachira and Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. You don’t want to miss out, because the PreFest Party happens this one night only!

The PreFest Party will take place at Seattle’s largest indoor / outdoor music venue, Nectar Lounge; located in the Fremont district on 412 N 36th St, Seattle, Washington 98103. Doors open at 8:00PM. Music starts at 8:30PM. Tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door.

Buy tickets and RSVP now on our Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1729847697261459/

 

 

 

 

Draze Maraire and friends, NW Folklife Festival

PERFORM AT THE 45TH ANNUAL FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL

Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors to participate in the 45th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which will take place May 27-30, 2016, at Seattle Center.

If you or your group is based in the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana, this is a great opportunity to share your music and traditions!

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is the largest community-powered arts festival in the United States. It is presented each year in Seattle by Northwest Folklife, a year-round nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Folklife 2014 - SaturdayLast year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 performers in 65 different genres of music, from Hawaiian to hip-hop. We presented dance performances representing cultures from Ireland to India. We believe everyone is a bearer of folk arts, and we encourage communities to share their cultural traditions, in the hope that interaction with new audiences will enrich the community as much as the audience.

Click these links to be redirected to our online applications:

MUSIC APPLICATION

DANCE APPLICATION

STORYTELLING/SPOKEN WORD APPLICATION

WORKSHOP APPLICATION

PANEL/PRESENTATION/FILM APPLICATION

If you need a paper version of our performer application, please email us at programming at nwfolklife.org.

Interested in how we select bands and performance groups? Click here to read our Programming FAQ.

Still have questions? Email our programming team now.

 

The Onlies

Have You Met The Onlies?

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, The Onlies’ eclectic assortment of fiddle-driven music bridges Celtic, traditional bluegrass, and contemporary Canadian and American tunes to create a sound all their own. Multi-talented members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Sami Braman are Garfield High School juniors who’ve literally played together since they were two years old. These young talented musicians bring powerhouse vocals and a variety of instruments to the table in their performances, and the Northwest Folklife is honored to share more about this dynamic trio, so read the Q&A below!

The Onlies

 

Tell us about yourselves!

(Sami) We are a Seattle-based trio with our hearts rooted in old music from Appalachia, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. We also write fiddle tunes and songs, creating a contemporary, original sound. By entrenching ourselves in authentic music traditions, we can move that music tradition forward. We started fiddling at five and would set out our cases at Folklife to busk. Since then, we’ve played with musicians as cool as Elvis Costello and as un-cool as old, toothless Kentucky banjo-pickers (who, we realized, are actually the coolest of all).

 

Why do you do what you do?

(Leo) The three of us have grown up surrounded by American, Irish, and Cape Breton traditional music and going to various folk festivals in the Northwest, so playing the music was a natural next step. As we encountered more people in the trad music community, we all were inspired to dedicate our lives to playing this music. Now, with strong connections formed (both to the music and to the people who we’ve met through it), traditional music is such an integral part of our lives that we couldn’t ever imagine stopping.

 

If you could explain your work in three words, what would they be?

(Sami)

  • Traditional
  • Joyful
  • Real

 

How have you been involved in your art form’s practice or evolution?

(Riley) Traditional music is a living and oral music. We have been fortunate enough to proverbially and literally sit at the feet of the masters of the traditions we are part of and soak in the music and culture just as people have been doing for hundreds of years, elder to youth. It is festivals like Folklife that have enabled us to do this.At the same time, we have also collaborated with many musicians to take tradition in new places, combinations of music and ideas that are now part of this living music.

 

We know you have been involved with Northwest Folklife for some time now – what do you think you have you learned or discovered by participating in Northwest Folklife?

(Leo) That there is a local community of people who have dedicated themselves to playing and preserving traditional art forms, and will support and encourage, and best of all, play with us!

 

Do you think Northwest Folklife has an influence on our greater community? 

(Sami) Whenever a city holds a massive festival geared toward sharing music from different cultures and traditions, the inspiration, community, and music will permeate the barriers of the festival and into the greater community. This is exactly what we’ve seen happen with our experiences at Folklife. When we leave Folklife, we know we’ll see that community of folk artists and musicians outside of Seattle Center. We know that we’ll come across them at different local events and the inspiration will continue. Northwest Folklife makes Seattle a hub of folk culture, music, and creation.

 

With the fast-approaching second annual Seattle Children’s Festival in-mind, do you think kids need Northwest Folklife arts and culture programs?

(Riley) We don’t think we can speak for all kids, but we can say that we needed Folklife (and still do). It was a place to learn about cultures entirely different from our own and watch musicians we looked up to play music we found out that we loved. Folklife is a place for all ages to learn about the world in a way that goes so far beyond sitting in a classroom. If every kid in Seattle got to take part in Folklife, those kid’s lives would be deeply enriched.

 

For more about The Onlies, visit them online or on Facebook.

 

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Folklife 2014 - Friday

Apply Now to Perform at the 2016 Folklife Festival

Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors to participate in the 45th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which will take place May 27-30, 2016, at Seattle Center.

If you or your group is based in the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana, this is a great opportunity to share your music and traditions!

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is the largest community-powered arts festival in the United States. It is presented each year in Seattle by Northwest Folklife, a year-round nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Last year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 performers in 65 different genres of music, from Hawaiian to hip-hop. We presented dance performances representing cultures from Ireland to India. We believe everyone is a bearer of folk arts, and we encourage communities to share their cultural traditions, in the hope that interaction with new audiences will enrich the community as much as the audience.Folklife 2014 - Monday

If you need a paper version of our performer application, please email us at programming at nwfolklife.org.

Interested in how we select bands and performance groups? Click here to read our Programming FAQ.

Still have questions? Email our programming team now.

 

 

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Festival Starts Today – Bring the Family Down!

FIUTSNorthwest Folklife Festival has always been a great place for families to come and bring their young children and introduce them to the arts and culture of the Pacific Northwest. This year, we are bringing back our Discovery Zone area, sponsored by ParentMap. This area is specifically tailored towards children, complete with it’s own stage featuring family-friendly programming, workshops, and hands-on activity booths for all ages.

The Discovery Zone Stage is open from 11am-6pm every day of the Festival. On Friday, however, because of the opening of the Artists at Play area, the stage programming will start at 1pm. The hands-on booths will open at 11 as usual.

Discovery Zone Stage: Sponsored by ParentMap

The Discovery Zone stage will feature a wide variety of different acts, and the full list of programming can be found in our online schedule. Some additions that are different than the schedule in the Program Guide: Musical Spoon-Playing with Artis the Spoonman (12:00pm on Sunday), and Siren Spark, an all-girl rock band from the Rain City Rock Camp for Girls (5:00pm on Friday).

There is even some Cultural Focus programming! The Discovery Zone Stage will feature a Capoeira Angola performance by the International Capoeira Angola Foundation at 12:00pm on Monday, May 25th, and break-dancing by the North City Rockers at 5:00pm on Sunday, May 24th!

image2The North City Rockers are a multi-generational break-dancing crew from Everett, WA. Folklife recently had the opportunity to chat with David “Pablo D” Narvaez the founder of the North City Rockers. The NCR are a pretty diverse crew, consisting of members from a variety of age groups. The youngest is only 10 years old!

We asked Pablo what we can expect to see during their performance at Folklife this year.

image1

“Excitement! They’re gonna see stuff they didn’t expect. You’re gonna see some typical b-boying but in a way you wouldn’t expect. All sorts of different styles come out. We’re bright, colorful, loud. We are multi-generational. We’re a lot of fun to watch,” says Pablo D of his crew.

Pablo D started breaking in the early 1980’s, but created the North City Rockers crew in 2010. The North City Rockers come together to practice and have fun together, but also prepare for performances and competitions. They perform for a variety of audiences, using a variety of different styles and music.

Pablo says that he likes to keep a positive attitude with everything he’s ever done, and breaking and competing from an early age was what started that. “I’ve tried to spread that to the youth. I’ve tried my best to knock on all sorts of doors and open them up. Learning how to get through adversity and rising to the job.”

Breaking classes with NCR are taught on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at Oly’s Dance Sport, 2931 Bond Street, Everett, WA 98201. Classes are open to the public and the first two classes are free. People with all levels of dance experience are encouraged to come train!

Discovery Zone Hands-On Activities

We are very excited about the hands-on activities this year, too! Some you might remember from last year, and some new!

Seattle Children’s Museum presents Exploring Rhythm: Come and explore instruments from around the globe! There will also be a craft table for making a dancing ring adorned with ribbons; dance to the music you hear at Folklife!

Active Art and Science presents Make Your Own Mosaic: Using recycled and finger safe glass and glue, children will create colorful mosaics on tiles. Creativity is welcome, and it’s a good opportunity to learn about color balance and glass art techniques.

Little Wing and Rookies, presented by School of Rock presents Rockin’ Instrument Play and Presentation: Come rock out with Little Wing! Major rock instruments will be laid out for you to try: electric guitar, bass, a snare drum with cymbals, keyboard, and a microphone for you to sing into! Channel your inner rock star!

Gage Academy of Art presents 25 Jams: Pop Up Drawing: Gage is curating a drawing jam in the Discovery Zone this year! It’ll be great fun for all ages; anyone who wants to learn how to draw from real life! Post up at an easel and practice with a live model, or draw what you see around Folklife!

The Center for Wooden Boats presents Toy Boat Building: Children will learn to use basic traditional hand tools such as hammers and hand drills to build wooden toy boats! Fun and educational, this is our largest booth so it will be hard to miss!

Creative Advantage This organization from the Office of Arts and Culture promotes the importance of arts education in the schools. This is a great place for parents to stop by and learn about what Creative Advantage is doing to bring arts back to the schools!

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Announcing the Incredible Dances of South Asia

Meet Dr. Joyce Paul Siamak – a new Community Coordinator at Northwest Folklife

I first attended Folklife when I was visiting Seattle on work in 1999. I was completely hooked!  Since moving to Redmond in 2001, I have been a performer and avid supporter of Northwest FolkLife having performed or volunteered every single year. It was at a Folklife performance with my friend Meera that I was noticed by the producer at Town Hall and invited to be part of their Global Rhythms series.

Dr. Joyce Paul Siamak

It has been a long association for me and I am very excited that I can take my support one step ahead by being the Community Coordinator this year.

Some 15 years ago when I first danced, there was no Indian or South Asian showcase; we just got slots in the “International Dance” section. Over the years with more artists moving into the area, various regional showcases started being staged. In particular the “Colors and Cultures of India” took off and provided a great opportunity for young immigrant artists to share their art with the community.

Over the last 5 to 6 years, I noticed a trend that I thought was not doing justice to the art form or the talent available locally. Most Indian dancers I knew were losing interest in performing and had started using the event to present their students in training instead of dancing themselves. This resulted in the audience members not getting a chance to see professionals at work. They were also unable to see what the art form would look like, had an experienced artist chosen to perform. Also, other nations and art forms from the entire South/East Asian region seemed to be represented less and less with dominant art forms such as Bharatanatyam taking on most of the slots. One time, I remember seeing 5 groups from the same genre, with three of them doing the same pieces in the same raga and tala!

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to bring a change in the programming to make it relevant to the larger South Asian dance community while ensuring that we present artistes and performances of caliber. I envisioned a showcase called “Incredible dances of South/East Asia.” For 2015, my first year as curator and community coordinator, my charter looks thus:

  1. Honor and invite special senior guests (artists who have decades of experience)
  2. Present interesting cross-genre programming with creative artists
  3. Present artistes and performances of caliber
  4. Continue to provide a platform for young and upcoming artistes. (provide a good mix of experience and upcoming)
  5. Showcase under represented art forms and regions of South/East Asia

How is this year’s show different?

  1. We are presenting South Asian and South East Asian countries and not just India
  2. Kicking off groups that create dance for social change (from the 4 culture ASC showcase)
  3. Introducing Jugalbandi’s or bringing two styles together.
  4. Presenting traditional folk dance such as Ghoomar and Terah Taaali from Rajasthan
  5. Blending Classicism in dance with traditional training methods such as Yoga and Kalaripayattu
  6. Honoring a senior guru

It is a big change moving from the well-established showcase theme from the past years but I am excited to bring this new showcase on

Ratna Roy

stage. Hopefully it will reach out to more folks from Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Maldives as well as South East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and West Malaysia. My desire is to present the amazing dance forms that are rarely seen in the Pacific Northwest!

I would like to thank NWFL especially Kelli Faryar for giving me the freedom to plan and execute this showcase based on my needs assessment and content expertise. It has been an amazing ride and I look forward to this weekend when it all comes together!!

Thank you and looking forward to seeing all of you this weekend. Please write to me (joyce@arpanarts.org) with your thoughts about this showcase.

– Dr. Joyce Paul