This fall, SEEDArts presents Arts Gumbo 2014: Music and Dance of the Islands, with a spotlight on Japan, Okinawa, Tahiti, and the Caribbean. The series of family events takes place at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S. Alaska St. in Columbia City features musical performances, participatory dancing and food from each culture.
On Saturday, September 13 at 6:00 p.m., Arts Gumbo introduces Mako and Munjuru, performing music and dance of Okinawa and Japan. Using the Okinawan lute, zither, taiko drums and voice, Mako and Munjuru combine elegant melodies, folk tales, and sophisticated classic tunes to present traditional “island songs” of Okinawa and Japan. Munjuru (which means straw hat) is comprised of three musicians: Mako on vocals and sanshin; Sadayo on kutu; Noriko on taiko; and two dancers Takako and Hitomi.
At 7:00 p.m., Arts Gumbo will serve audiences a traditional Japanese dinner cooked earlier in the day by Community Kitchens Northwest and local volunteers. Community Kitchens Northwest will hold a Japanese cooking workshop with guest consultant Fumiko Kurose-Bretzke at 1:00 p.m. on September 13. The workshop is open to anyone interested in learning about Japanese cooking and food. To register, contact Leika Suzumura at [email protected] or call 206-214-8892.
After dining, audience members can participate in a Bon dance workshop. Bon Odori are folk dances traditionally performed during Obon, a Japanese summer festival, to music that includes the steady beat of a taiko. The taiko sits on a raised platform, or a yagura, and musicians use bachi, or drumsticks, on the taiko, to keep time for the Bon dancers. The guiding purpose of Bon Odori is to set aside the ego through unselfconscious dancing.
Arts Gumbo will also present Hana: A Tale of a Reluctant Samurai in conjunction with the series on Japan and Okinawa. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, I Wish, Like Father Like Son), Hana depicts the tale of an inept young Samurai tasked with hunting down his father’s killer. Far from being your typical samurai action movie, Hana is a beautiful and kind-hearted film about redemption, forgiveness, and compassion. The film will be shown on Saturday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Rainier Valley Cultural Center (3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118). Tickets are $5.
The festivities continue on Saturday, October 11 at 6:00 p.m. with a spotlight on Tahiti. Festivities will feature Te‘a rama, a traditional Tahitian dance group, featuring Tahitian dance, choreography and costumes. Te‘a rama performs songs and dances that tell about the cultural beliefs of the Polynesian people—beliefs in demi-gods and goddesses that ruled the forces of nature with their stories taking form in song, chant, music and dance.
Founded by Manio Radford, who has taught Polynesian dance in Seattle since 1964, Te‘a rama is comprised of the some of the leading Tahitian dancers and musicians who have performed regionally at Northwest Folklife, DANCE This at the Moore theater and in Canada’s Festival Polynesia among others.
At 7:00 p.m., Arts Gumbo will serve audiences a traditional Tahitian dinner cooked earlier in the day by Community Kitchens Northwest and local volunteers with guest consultant Manio Radford. The workshop begins at 1:00 p.m. and is open to anyone interested in learning about Tahitian cooking and food. To register, contact Leika Suzumura at [email protected] or call 206-214-8892.
Following dinner, audiences can learn Tahitian dancing and drumming with Te Fare O Tamatoa (‘The House of Tamatoa’), Tahitian dance group. This will be an informal, fun dance workshop for all ages and all levels.
The final Arts Gumbo event of the 2014 Series will feature the Caribbean with a performance by Grupo Utopia, a dinner and dance workshop. Featuring some of the best Caribbean musicians in Seattle, Grupo Utopia delivers a panoramic soundscape of Latin Music, blending Miguel A Munoz’s dynamic voice and piano, with an expressive percussion section run by Ricardo Guity and Jeff Busch, seasoned with the rhythmic cadence of Jeff Norwood on bass, all this balanced by the melodious direction of Patty Carrion on keyboards. A Caribbean dinner will follow the performance, followed by a ‘Dances of the Caribbean’ workshop.
Tickets for Arts Gumbo 2014 can be purchased for $15 general; $10 seniors and students; $5 for children 5-12; at the door or at www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets include the performance, the dance workshop and the dinner. For updated event times and dates, please call 206.760.4285.
Arts Gumbo is presented by SEEDArts in partnership with Northwest Folklife, Community Kitchens NW and the Columbia Branch Library. For more information, visit www.RainierValleyCulturalCenter.org.