This year, Seattle’s Memorial Day weekend arts spectacular turns its cultural focus towards India, featuring Bollywood dance, Indian cinema, and even traditional operatic ballet. But it doesn’t stop there. The diverse Northwest Folklife Festival lineup features cultural specks from around the world. Kungfu demonstrations by Shaolin monks? You got it. Balkan brass? Yeah, of course. Amidst the multitude of events and demonstrations, here are a few events you have to check out:
Get a kick out of kungfu demonstrations by 34th generation Shaolin monk Master Shi who has traversed over 30 countries demonstrating his incredible skills. May 23 at 2:10, Exhibition Hall.
You can’t have an India-themed fest without featuring some Bollywood flavor. Featuring a number of performers and bellydancing and Bollywood dance troupes, the Bollywood Show showcases the genre's gorgeous array of footwork and storytelling. If you’re feeling inspired, festival-goers have the opportunity join in and learn the dances earlier in the day. May 23 at 6:45, Exhibition Hall.
Bushwick Book Club Seattle Presents Original Music Inspired by Shel Silverstein
Last year, Bushwick Book Club performed their take on Dorothy and her adventures in the Land of Oz. This year they prove the sidewalk never really ended, continuing along their path of literary-inspired original songs by tackling the whimsical wordplay of beloved author and poet Shel Silverstein. May 24 at 1, Folklife Café.
Despite the closeness of the Balkan nations, they all have distinct, individual cultures. The Croatian showcase features music and dance not just from Croatia, but from Bosnia, Serbia, Corsica and Italy as well. Join Bonaca & Ruze Dalmatinke, Radost Folk Ensemble, Dave and the Dalmatians, and others as they bring the Balkans together for a border-blurring bash. May 24 at 3, Bagley Wright Theater.
Jack Straw Writers Read to Jazz
Graduates of Jack Straw’s rigorous writing program are experts at combining written works with recorded audio. Catch them as they read and improvise against a backdrop of freeform jazz by Ronin 2. May 24 at 7, Cornish Playhouse.
Seattle Living Room Showcase
Seattle Living Room Shows creates an intimate, open experience for audiences and artists alike by hosting shows in living rooms and local homes. On Sunday, they bring the living room outside, allowing audiences to be face-to-face with some of SLR's favorite artists: Bradford Loomis, Tango Alpha Tango, Mikey and Matty, and Star Anna. May 25 at 1, Fountain Lawn Stage.
Traditional Indian Ballet
Internationally acclaimed dancer, teacher, and choreographer Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma brings to Seattle the grand, traditional Indian opera Mahishasura Mardini. The first operatic ballet of this caliber to be produced and performed at the Folklife Festival, it's the perfect way to close out Sunday’s festivities. May 25 at 7, Bagley Wright Theater.
Once Irish Pub Crawl
In celebration of the Tony award-winning musical Once coming to the Paramount, Queen Anne will erupt with the sound of Irish music on Memorial Day. The event features Carrigaline Celtic Band and other locally-based musicans, who will play their music and discuss the importance of pub culture to Ireland. The festivities begin at Folklife before moving to T.S. McHughes and Solo Bar. May 26 at 5, Fisher Green Beer Garden.
Northwest Folklife Festival
May 23–26, Seattle Center, Free (Donation suggested)