Tag Archives: Carla Barragan

2014 Tacoma Arts Month Opening Party & AMOCAT Arts Awards

26 Sep

Presented by the Tacoma Arts Commission and Spaceworks Tacoma


Thursday, October 2, 6-9pm
Tacoma Post Office Building
Awards start 7:45, Post Hall (4th floor)

Get out and have some fun while helping us kick off Tacoma Arts Month in style. Enjoy a stellar line-up of entertainment, art exhibitions, appetizers, dessert, and no-host bar. Help us honor the 2014 AMOCAT Arts Award winners and funding recipients. It’s all free and open to the public – pack up the family, invite your friends and come help us celebrate!  RSVP here, find it on Facebook, or just show on up.


Experience this giant line-up of happening in the newly-renovated Tacoma Post Office Building and help us honor the 2014 AMOCAT Arts Award winners and funding recipients.

The night’s arts and entertainment includes:
• Music by Speed Queen
• Exhibits of work by Jessica Spring and The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s Foundation of Art Award honorees
• Pop-up exhibits of work by Beautiful Angle, Isaac Olsen, Alice Di Certo, Kristin Giordano, The C.L.A.W., and Poly Rev
• Okinawa Taiko Drums
• Tintype photo booth by Kyle Dillehay
• Mini-theater performances by Working Class Theater
• Open studios of Abby Kok, Alana Tamminga, and Katlyn Hubner
• Trash Fashion Runway by Tinkertopia and Friends
• Poetry by Tacoma Poet Laureate Lucas Smiraldo
• Screenings of short films by Kat Ogden, Nick Butler, Kris Crews, Kate Walker, and The Grand Cinema

2014 AMOCAT Arts Awards, starts at 7:45 in Post Hall (4th floor):

Arts Patron – ArtsFund
Community Outreach by an Organization – Asia Pacific Cultural Center
Community Outreach by an Individual – Jessica Spring

2014 Tacoma Arts Commission funding recipients:
Arts Anchor Fund
The Grand Cinema, Hilltop Artists, Museum of Glass, Northwest Sinfonietta, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Symphony, Tacoma Youth Symphony Association

Arts Projects
Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, DASH Center for the Arts, Fab-5, Fort Nisqually Foundation, King’s Bookstore, Local Life, Monkeyshines, MLKBallet, Northwest Repertory Singers, Classical Tuesdays in Old Town, Puget Sound Poetry Connection, Second City Chamber Series, Sister City Council of Tacoma, Tacoma Concert Band, Tacoma Maritime Fest, the BareFoot Collective, University of Puget Sound, Washington State Historical Society

Tacoma Artist Initiative Program
Sean Alexander, Carla Barragan, Bill Colby, Alice Di Certo, Kyle Dillehay, David Domkoski, Oliver Doriss, Josie Emmons Turner, Sarah Gilbert, Erin Guinup, Meghan Mitchell, Mark Monlux, Kat Ogden, Scott Scoggin, Erik Steighner, Noah Struthers

Event Sponsors
Click! Cable TV, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Weekly, Northwest Public Radio, KPLU, Weekly Volcano, Premier Media Group, Exit133

Questions? Inquiries? 
Call Naomi Strom-Avila 253.591.5191

Watch “artTown” Documenting Tacoma Artists

11 Oct
Impressive new TV series of documentary-style spotlights on Tacoma artists and entrepreneurs.

Impressive new TV series of documentary-style spotlights on Tacoma artists and entrepreneurs. Watch it on cable, or online!

The City of Tacoma’s Media and Communications Office – in partnership with its Community and Economic Development Department’s Arts Program – announces the launch of “artTown,” a cultural documentary-style TV initiative exploring Tacoma’s emergence as a major creative hub in the Pacific Northwest. The quarterly series offers segments featuring diverse perspectives on a variety of creative disciplines. The show launches today – you can view anytime online or watch tonight at 8 p.m. on TV Tacoma.

“In developing the concept for ‘artTown,’ we wanted to offer a more holistic look at creativity in Tacoma,” said Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride. “In addition to what people traditionally think of as ‘creative,’ such as fine art, music or dance, we also plan to spotlight other creative areas of interest that have really flourished in our city like food, fashion, innovative education practices, architecture and more. You’ll see some of that in this first episode.”

The inaugural episode features:

music composed by local artist Isaac Solverson

J.D. Elquist and Travis Pranger from Feather and Oar

Pacific Avenue Streetscape artists Elizabeth Conner and Daniel Martin

graphic designer Art Chantry and letterpress artist Lance Kagey of Beautiful Angle

Metro Parks historian Melissa McGinnis

Tacoma School of the Arts instructors Robin Jaecklein and Kareem Kandi

Arts EnviroChallenger teaching artist Meredith Essex

illustrator and designer Sean Alexander

glass artist Sarah Gilbert

dance choreographer Carla Barragan

jazz musician Kareem Kandi

Old Town Dock public artist Chandler O’Leary

and much more…. Continue reading

BareFoot Collective Dance Showcase, May 14-15

3 May

BQdanza dance troupe will perform in "Ides of May."

The BareFoot Collective (tBFC) is presenting Ides of May, a contemporary dance concert featuring professional dance artists and upcoming dancers from Gig Harbor High School, May 14-15. In addition to spotlighting the work of budding student performers, Ides of May will debut new choreography by BQdanza director, Carla Barragán, and tBFC choreographers Katie Stricker and Michael Hoover. Stricker will take the floor with an all-female quartet in a dance piece that speaks to the language of sisterhood. Hoover will reprise a cathartic solo involving a whistling tea kettle, and introduce two new works, one of which melds dancers who span a diversity of age, professional experience and geographical locations from across the South Sound.

Perfectly poised: the BareFoot Collective. Photo: Michael Hoover

Barragáns dance company, BQdanza, was the recipient of a Spaceworks residency last fall. For Ides of May, the troupe will perform sections of an original work in progress, Nincompoopiana, fusing the arts of puppetry and dance. Nincompoopiana explores “the rebellion against the status quo through whimsical movement by five larger-than-life puppets,” according to a press release. “The Nincompoopian aesthetic movement began in the 1880s and it rebelled against the pretty and respectable. [BQdanza] restates this concept [by] introducing five archetypal characters that discover each other through simple and comic rapport.” Covered in “puppet skins” decorated with tattoo-like designs, the dancers look like otherworldly beings. They will do a roaming improvisation on the street, May 14, prior to the 7:30 show. tBFC organized this production with the support of a three-month Spaceworks Tacoma residency, including a free rehearsal space at 915 Pacific Avenue fitted to their specifications.

Ides of May, at 915 Pacific Avenue, May 14-15, 3p.m. and 7:30p.m. Seating is limited; advance purchase of tickets is recommended. Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com, and at the door on the day of the show ($12/$15). For more information, click www.barefootcollective.org.

BQdanza’s Splash

22 Sep

On Sept. 16, Tacoma-based choreographer Carla Barragán and BQdanza dance troupe debuted a new work, Thick, at Tollefson Plaza. The site-specific performance is a response to the Gulf Coast oil spill and represents the enormity of the tragedy through a kinesthetic interpretation of the ecosystem’s birds and wildlife. The performance took place in the early evening on the plaza, and the dance incorporated its cascade pools. Those who were in attendance agreed: It was a pleasure to see humans moving in harmony with nature (i.e., the drizzly fall weather) instead of assaulting the earth, as from, say, an oil rig.

Spectators took the weather in stride: “It was a wonderful performance. So cool that it was raining because it helped all of us feel like [participants] since the dancers were splashing in the ponds,” enthused onlooker Michael Sandner. Colleen Gray observed: “The low light and rain were perfect compliments to the mood set by the movement and sound. The use of the water in the fountain in the last minutes somehow surprised both of us. We had completely forgotten where we were!”

“I was very happy with the performance” and even the rainfall, says Ecuadoran-born Barragán. The brick plaza was softly lit, the night gently fell, “and that offered the audience and me a very mystical experience of the performance. We are so used to [performing in large venues] that this was a very genuine display of focused talent from my five beautiful dancers.” A soundtrack of natural bird and insect sounds, and original poetry by Luke Smiraldo, added subtle intensity to the slow-paced dance piece.

Many thanks to BQdanza for a memorable tribute to a natural habitat still under siege.

BQdanza dance troupe. Photo courtesy of Carla Barrágan

Dancing Amidst Catastrophe

11 Aug

Thick is a site-specific performance for Tollefson Plaza created by Tacoma-based choreographer Carla Barragán and Bqdanza dance troupe. This original work, a response to the oil spill tragedy on the Gulf Coast, mourns the environmental disaster while celebrating the grace and beauty of the region’s birds, sea creatures and myriad other habitants. We talked to the Ecuadoran-born choreographer about how an abstract work of art such as a dance piece grows out of a concrete natural (or unnatural, as it were) catastrophe.

Spaceworks Tacoma: I read the proposal you wrote for Thick – it seems heartfelt. How did the piece develop during the ongoing oil spill?
Carla Barragán: A catastrophe of this magnitude affects us all. I experienced feelings of dread as this event unfolded, yet with time I felt more empowered by dealing with it through my choreography…The piece that emerged is a celebration of fauna – in a very abstract manner – the movement has hints of the animals in full life as well as in agony. The dance itself is not a narrative of or political discourse about the oil spill.

BQdanza on the rails at Tollefson Plaza

ST: Do you have a connection with the Gulf Coast?
CB: We all have a connection with the area. The waterways and oceans of the world are all interconnected. Systems are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, if one system hurts, all systems are compromised, especially the balance of the ecosystems in the long term.

ST: How do you think art and artists can help open people’s eyes to the natural world?
CB: My choreography is not literal and it is usually multilayered. I never try to teach through my work. I use themes that move me…but not to convince audiences of anything except to be open to art. [An audience can be moved by] the dancers’ truthfulness while they perform. I take the dancers through genuine experiences through which they will be connected to the work; I rarely just give them “the steps.” I give them a problem to solve and/or a situation that they can engage in emotionally. The result is an authentic performance that tends to stir the viewers’ emotions. If the resulting art is strong enough to open people’s eyes to the topic of the dance, that is fantastic. Humans have a way of coping with problems that come to them, by simply forgetting as quickly as possible. Art can be a reminder if it touches the right chords.

Another way artists help open people’s eyes is by doing their work, even work that is abstract, and talking about it, like us right now. That is the way conceptual work gets the attention it does, by the verbiage that supports it. It is not my mode of working, but at least in my work, Thick, it might help people know, understand and mourn the environment by watching something inspired by this disaster.

ST: Can you tell me about the soundscapes involved in Thick?
CB: I have selected nature and bird sounds that come from a variety of sources. By random circumstances, I ran into my old time collaborator and friend Luke Smiraldo who told me about his poem “Internal: Reflection on the Gulf Spill as the Hemorrhage Continues,” and we both decided it was perfect to include in the soundtrack for Thick. Despite the traffic [on Pacific Ave.] governing the sound environment, audience members may pick up some parts of the poem and of wilderness sounds while passing by.

ST: You write in your performance proposal that Thick isn’t a literal retelling of the oil spill incident. How does this non-traditional narrative mesh with contemporary movement and music?
CB: As I started explaining earlier, my hope is to give each artist/dancer participating in the project an opportunity to search out a connection with the marine ecosystem and honor the animals affected by the disaster. They engage their imagination with these images of birds and other marine animals that they research themselves, and they reproduce kinesthetic expressions. They will not be mimicking the animals, but some resonance of the animals’ behavior may be caught in the movement. At the same time, the movement will be affected by the structures in the plaza which the dancers will be performing on and around.

A BQdanza performance

ST: Please tell me a little about your Ecuadoran background.
CB: I was born in Quito, Ecuador, to a talented family of contemporary artists. I left at 16 but have gone back several times to live, teach and/or visit, and I still feel extremely passionate about Ecuador. I breathe the culture into my work….I have also lived in New York for 10 years, in Palo Alto, Seattle, and in Mexico. I love Tacoma! I teach theater at a unique elementary school in Spanaway, called Elk Plain School of Choice. It offers all the arts and sciences to kids and I love seeing how art transforms people of that age.

Thick, Tollefson Plaza, S. 17th & Pacific Ave., Sept. 16, 2010. Performances (15-20 min.) at 5:30pm and 7:30pm. Free.

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