May 6, 2002
Exciting slate of performers at International Children's Festival
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
The Seattle International Children's Festival is alive and going strong in its 16th year of presenting a celebration of world cultures through the performing arts.
Dancers, musicians, singers, actors, puppeteers and aerialists from all parts of the globe will be in town to introduce Seattle area families to their unique forms of artistry, May 13-18 at the Seattle Center.
Performers hail from the Republic of Congo, Belgium, Cuba, Canada, Japan, China, Ecuador, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, India and the U.S. Traditional West African music and dance becomes contemporary jazz, hip-hop and rap from Les Tambours de Brazza, a twelve-member ensemble from Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo. Sizzling rumba dance and percussion are specialties of David Oquendo and Raices Habaneras, a group out of Cuba, making its West Coast premiere at the festival.
From Belgium, five graduates of the Brussels Circus School, who call themselves "Les Argonautes," will take audiences on an adventure in clowning and physical theatre.
In its U.S. premiere, Uzume Taiko brings its exhilarating taiko drumming and choreographed martial arts show direct from Japan. The group's production tells the tale of a young drum maker who aspires to overcome cultural taboos.
From China, the Naxi Ancient Music Association will present ancient Chinese music with unique instrumentation. This music, performed by an orchestra of ethnic Naxi musicians, will be heard for the first time on the North American continent. Ecuador's contribution to the festival is a mixed-media performance from Birlibirloque Dance that combines dance, theater, aerial work, stilt-walking, masks and puppetry. The production, performed entirely in Spanish, is entitled Descuajaringado (Upside Town), and was inspired by the rich Latin tradition of magic realism.
Internationally acclaimed performers Lars Frank and Nils Dreschke of Puppentheater der Stadt Halle, from Germany, make their North American premiere with "The Workshop of the Butterflies." Surprising visual effects, life-size puppets and music from Verdi, Frank and Dreschke tell a story of an apprentice in a special laboratory who must acquire the patience to become a true creator. Odissi, the oldest of Indian temple dance forms, will be performed by master dancer Sri Manoranjan Pradhan, from India, and his principal student Barbara Mintz.
From Korea comes Theatre SADARI, a musical potpourri especially suited for young children, ages three to seven. Each year the festival chooses one country to do more of an in-depth focus on and this year, Vietnam was selected.
Back by popular demand is the masterful Ho Chi Minh City Water Puppet Theatre. In addition, Patch Theatre presents "The Boy and the Bamboo Flute," a captivating performance of drama, martial arts, mime, music and dance, inspired by the folklore and cultural traditions of Vietnam.
Finally, Rup Tung Cack, a group of seven virtuoso musicians will mesmerize audiences with its energetic performance of original and traditional music of Vietnam, using gongs, kettle drums and a stone xylophone.
The Seattle International Children's Festival offers weekday and twilight performances, as well as a special family day on May 18.
For schedule and ticket information, call (206) 684-7346 or access the festival's Web site at: www.seattleinternational.org.