Sights & Sounds is your weekly guide to the Bay Area arts scene through the eyes and ears of local artists. Our guest is Mahea Uchiyama: kumu hula and artistic director of the Center for International Dance. Her Hālau, Ka Ua Tuahine, presents an Evening of Oceanic Dance and Music at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on May 28th.
Uchiyama told KALW’s Jen Chien about three cool arts events happening this weekend around the Bay.
On Friday, 5/20, Ashkenaz in Berkeley hosts Night of the Griots. A cadre of West African musicians performs both culturally common and regionally specific songs. Famed Malian kora player, Karamo Susso, is joined by Ousseynou Kouyate of Senegal on percussion and vocals, Mohamed Kouyate from Guinea on balafon (wooden marimba) and West African singer-dancer Mandjou Koné.
UCHIYAMA: Everytime I hear the music of the kora I just melt. There is something about that lyrical, rhythmic, very ancient sound that just speaks to me so strongly. And if you have someone playing the kora in the context of singing and telling stories, it is just so amazing.
On Saturday 5/21, Julia Chigamba and Chinyakare Ensemble present Pasi Mupindu: The World is Changing at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. The concert of Zimbabwean music and dance to honor the life cycle boasts vibrant costumes and movement deeply rooted in Shone, Ndebele, and other tribal traditions.
UCHIYAMA: It’s beautiful, life affirming, powerful, deep music and dance. People connect to their ancestors through this music.
On Saturday, 5/21 Nā Mamo No’eau presents Nā Wahi Pana – Sacred Sites and Special Places at the California Theater in Pittsburg. The cultural landscapes of Kaua`i, O`ahu, Hawai`i island and Ra`iātea will be honored during this evening of Polynesian dance and song. The night also includes a tribute to Marie Espaniola, mother of Hawaiian musician Steven “Kanahe” Espaniola.
UCHIYAMA: It’s going to be a moving and beautiful event. You will come away inspired by the culture and you’ll learn a lot.