Posted tagged ‘dance’

Communities in Focus: FolkFloor Volunteers

May 10, 2010

Long-time volunteer and Northwest Folklife Board Member Luther Black gives us some behind-the-scenes background on the folks responsible for the dance floor at the Roadhouse.

Dancers at the Roadhouse

Dancers at the Roadhouse; ©Erika Schultz/Seattle Times

Who is your community? What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

We call ourselves the FolkFloor Volunteers; we are Folklife volunteers/supporters who enjoy dancing in the Roadhouse every NWFL Festival weekend and throughout the year around our region. Every year anywhere from 70 to 130 volunteers work in shifts from Wednesday evening before to Tuesday evening after the Festival weekend. We assemble, tape, clean, wax and buff the 56′ X 96′ dance floor for four days of Roadhouse dancing. Then after the Festival we carefully take it apart, paint a portion of it, and return it to storage until the next year.
Festival attendees are invited to come to the Roadhouse to see our large gray cushioned floor, and to join us dancing to the inspiring dance bands for contras, squares, swing, Cajun, blues, and more. On Thursday (all day), or Monday night after 9 PM, all can join us as we assemble and strike, respectively, the FolkFloor at this year’s NW Folklife Festival.

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife? How did you first get involved?

In 1987, an original core of concerned dancers and musicians raised the money, decided on a workable design, and installed the first FolkFloor in the old Flag Pavilion West, with the encouragement of the Executive Director and Production Director of the Festival. During the next three Festivals we made a few modifications to reduce wear and correct dust problems that arose. Since then, year after year, volunteers have returned to work on the FolkFloor, encouraging all to join in the community effort to make the Roadhouse an attractive, danceable venue.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

Each spring, as the FolkFloor volunteers start to discuss logistical plans for the Festival, we ask everyone to invite local dancers to join in the unique effort to produce a comfortable and quality dance experience at the Roadhouse.

This spring we are reaching out through word of mouth and via social networking (e.g., Facebook) to get new faces involved with process of turning the Fisher Pavilion into the Roadhouse as we build out the Folkfloor.

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

a. The FolkFloor came directly from the grassroots: its concept, design and execution were community-driven.
b. Although several of the original volunteers no longer dance the entire weekend, they remain committed to the project and continue to devote hours of labor for the benefit of the entire community.
c. Dancing of the sort seen on the FolkFloor is a living and growing tradition. We encourage current dancers and musicians to accept an active role in furthering the historic success of the FolkFloor.

Communities in Focus: Northwest Fiddle and Dance

May 6, 2010

Community Coordinator Bríd Nowlan sheds some light on the Pacific Northwest Fiddle and Dance scene.

Who is your community?  What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

Ours is a community of fiddlers, other musicians and dancers.

The fiddle has been at the center of community gatherings in the Pacific Northwest since the earliest days of European exploration. Lewis and Clark brought with them no less than two fiddlers, who helped ease relations between the newcomers and the native residents. In 1862, at a wedding on the banks of the Duwamish River, fiddler Jake Lake entertained both European settlers and Native Americans with tunes still played here today. Fiddlers are still settling here, coming from all over the world with their tunes and dances.  The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association was founded in 1965 to foster the tradition of Northwest fiddle music.

Marty Dahlgren

Marty Dahlgren

We have four community events at this year’s festival.  The annual Fiddlers Showcase, Saturday 11AM-2PM at the Charlotte Martin Theatre, will feature some of the best fiddlers from the region and beyond. At 2PM Sunday, in the Roadhouse, you can dance to the music of three outstanding dance fiddlers from Washington State: Gil Kiesecker played fiddle for dances in the 1920s and 30s in Eastern Washington; Vivian Williams has been entertaining Seattlites for four decades; and Marty Dahlgren has been playing around the Northwest for the past seventy years or so. At a workshop, 11AM on Sunday morning, in the Lopez Room, fiddler and historian Linda Danielson of Oregon and Missouri fiddler John White will teach some fiddle tunes. At 4PM on Monday, we will present two hundred years of Northwest fiddling on the Narrative Stage, with fiddlers Stuart Williams, Vivian Williams, Warren Argo and friends.

(Stuart Williams, Vivian Williams on fiddle, Phil Williams on guitar, play Marmaduke’s Hornpip at the 2006 Folklife Festival)

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife?  How did you first get involved?

The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association has been involved with Northwest Folklife since its beginning—the two organizations share Phil & Vivian Williams as founders. The Association had a stage with non-stop fiddle music in the first few years of the festival. Stuart Williams now organizes the Fiddlers Showcase, which has been one of the few places where Seattlites can hear older Washington fiddlers from outside the city.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

The Association has 16 districts across the state, each of which hosts regular jams and other events where new and younger musicians are always welcome. The Association’s annual workshop at Kittitas is an important source of instruction for new fiddlers. We also have several publications that chronicle the history and feature this music.

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

1. The traditional fiddle music of the Pacific Northwest tells the story of modern human migrations across the North American continent. European and French Canadian reels and jigs, Missouri hoedowns and Scandinavian walking tunes came here on the bows of numerous anonymous fiddlers to form the backbone of a unique musical style.

2. There has been a continuous tradition of fiddle music in the Pacific Northwest since the earliest days of European settlement. Before the mid-twentieth century fiddlers of all backgrounds played together here, generating a new sound of which just a few practitioners remain. By the mid-twentieth century, new recording technologies allowed musicians to maintain distinct threads of musical styles at a distance from their source. Wax discs, reel-to-reel and cassette tapes and now digital recordings allow people to learn their style of choice, whether Scandinavian, Irish or Appalachian, regardless of where they live.

3. Music is a community resource, an essential component of almost all our gatherings. It used to be dependent on a live musician and rooted in place. Over time new technologies encroached upon the musician’s place—and especially that of the traditional fiddler. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing back again and there are probably more fiddlers now than ever before and more opportunities to hear music and participate in dances. The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association honors the region’s tradition bearers while welcoming and encouraging newcomers.

(Gil Kiesecker on fiddle, Stuart Williams on guitar, playing Clearwater Stomp at Folklife, 2006)

Communities in Focus: Filipino community

April 28, 2010

From Community Coordinator Roger Del Rosario

Amy - StudyantinaWho is your community?  What can audiences at the Festival expect to experience at your showcase?

We represent the Filipino Community.  They’ll experience Philippine art through folk dance performances, music & songs, art & cultural exhibits, and a narrative panel on cultural experiences of Filipino-Americans in
Pacific Northwest.

How long has your community been involved with Northwest Folklife?  How did you first get involved?

I have been involved with the Northwest Folklife Festival since the very beginning through the Filipiniana Dance Company.  They have invited us to perform there almost every year.

How are younger or newer folks getting involved?

There are 5 groups performing at the Cultural Show with younger and some new dancers; the art exhibits will be by
two young artists from the Philippines, and the speakers at the Narrative Stage are young and new in accordance with the subject matter.

© Copyright Jal

© Copyright Jal

Three things you’d like people to know about your community and your cultural traditions and arts:

1. Regarding our cultural traditions and art:  It’s a mixture of Chinese, Arabic, Hindu-  Malayan, Spanish, and American cultures because of our history with their contributions through conquests and assimilations.
2. Family is the most important to us and our Roman Catholic faith where we draw our strength and moral values.
3. Filipinos are a proud people and sensitive to human needs, hospitable, and very friendly.

Filipino Showcase at the Northwest Folklife Festival
Saturday, May 29 | 3-5pm
Charlotte Martin Theatre