Showcasing Seattle Women at the 2014 (Un)Conference and Film Festival
Hosted by Women Who Rock
Review and photography by Naomi Musgrave.
On April 25, the second evening of the 2014 (Un)Conference and Film Festival was underway at Washington Hall. Hosted by Women Who Rock, the festival highlighted the work of various women in the arts. Following an afternoon of perusing the market and viewing the film festival, attendees gathered around the stage for a series of live performances.
The first was a large group of women, stepping onto the stage with a variety of stringed instruments. As the Seattle Fandango Project played energetically, pairs of women left their instruments and came forward. Each set of two women danced together, stomping their feet and rotating on the small stage. Their dance dominated the space with the rhythm they generated. The group of women, the Seattle Fandango Project, uses the fandango dance to draw people together and help build communities. People relaxed as they watched the women perform, stomping and clapping along.
The next set of women came out with enormous steel pans. Using purely these percussive instruments, they made music with an amazing depth of sound. The Womenʼs Caribbean Steel Pan Project meets 4 times a month for practices, and has been meeting for less than a year. Their sound is zesty and melodic, with a distinctive beat pulling the songs along. As they began to wrap up their set, the Fandango project came back onstage. Dancers came forward, and the two groups of women blended their different percussive styles to keep the music going.
Later in the evening, Evelyn Harris gave a dynamic speech interspersed with a number of songs. She has been singing with the Sweet Honey on the Rocks group for 18 years, and is currently choral director at Northampton Community Music Center. She uses singing as cognitive therapy at several nursing homes. She performed a selection of gospel-inspired pieces, singing strongly and standing tall. Although she is an average-sized woman, her illustrative hand motions and demeanor commanded the stage. Her speech spanned her life experiences, with anecdotes grounding the key points. She touched on how she felt when close friends and family were dying during the AIDS outbreak, and talked about some of the struggles she faced as a black woman. She talked about her love of music, and used her stories about traveling in a choir to illustrate how important it is to share what you have learned. As she drew her talk to a close, Harris shifted away from some of the grimmer topics she mentioned. She reminded us, “the world was created for joy and laughter,” and “we share the responsibility for caring for the world.”
The evening at Washington Hall continued with a performance from the MCs Sista Hailstorm and Julie C. As a couple B-girls danced, the audience clustered around the stage area to get a better view. Seeing these four women perform cemented the point of the festival. The series of performances, talks, and the exhibitions brought together people from a variety of backgrounds to learn about different cultures in Seattle. Through the film festival and live showcases, women expressed their talents and showed how they see the world around them.