Alameda’s Rhythmix Hosts Island to Island Arts Festival


Performers from Alameda, Manhattan and Japan will participate in this weekend’s Island to Island Arts Festival at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow evening.

The March 4-5 event features Chieko Kojima of Japan, Kaoru Watanabe of Manhattan and Alameda’s Maze Daiko drumming group.

Kojima is the principal dancer of the internationally renowned Japanese drumming ensemble Kodo. She is known for her innovative interpretations of Japanese folk dance, according to Rhythmix, while flautist
Watanabe is trained in both traditional and contemporary forms of eastern and western music.

“Together they reinvent tradition in our modern world with clarity and relevance,” Rhythmix says.

Members of the Maze Daiko global-instrumentation-and-rhythm performing group include Janet Koike, Cristine Sato, Elaine Fong, Kathryn Cabunoc, Tina Blaine and Carolyn West.

Tickets for this weekend’s concerts are $20-$25, and drinks from the bar and other concessions will be available at the show.

The concerts are made possible thanks to funding from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation, as well as the support from Kodo Arts Sphere America.


Alameda’s Rhythmix Hosts Open House, Anniversary Event

If you’ve been thinking about taking a class in dancing, drumming or painting, Saturday, June 12, is a good day to visit Rhythmix Cultural Works.

The Blanding Avenue non-profit is celebrating its third anniversary and will be hosting a free festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will include performances, demonstrations and more.

There will be belly dancing, capoeira (Brazilian martial arts), circus arts, hoop dancing, poi (rhythmic dancing), taiko (Japanese drumming), world percussion, West African dancing and other activities.

The hands-on workshops are being led by Wendy Allen of Fat Chance Bellydance, Sam Batchelder, Skilly Circus, Betty Lucas, Alyssa Gangemi, Maze Daiko, Afia Walking Tree, Ava Levias-Square, Harry Best & Shabang and Bean’s Got Rhythm class.

“The activities will be very kid friendly all day long,” said Janet Koike, executive director of the arts center. “We had our grand opening in 2007, and this is the first time we are taking the opportunity to celebrate an anniversary.”

As part of the celebration, the center’s K Gallery will be hosting a new exhibit curated by Clint Imboden, which features five Alameda artists: Jon Kerpel, Ginny Parson, K.C. Rosenberg, Peter Tonningsen and Danielle Wallis.

Plus, the day’s activities will also feature art workshops, kids’ activities, face-painting, food booths and a crafts fair with local artisans. Food and snacks, such as tacos and kettle corn, will be sold.

Koike — shown on the left side of the above photo —  set up Rhythmix Cultural Works in 1999 as the umbrella organization for RhythMix world-music ensemble and several cultural-exchange programs involving trip to Cuba and Japan. She then spent five years renovating a building in Alameda to host these and other activities.

The free anniversary bash, she says, is meant to thank the community for its ongoing support and to inspire more people to celebrate the arts.

“It will be a great day for all those who visit us,” Koike said. “We encourage everyone to come out and see our programming.”


Local Jewelers, Artists Have Lots to Share

Alameda resident and merchants are talking about all the local holiday shopping events on tap throughout the Island.

For instance, Deborah Porterfield — formerly of Harbor Bay Jewelers and an important donor to the recent Dance for a Cure benefit — is hosting a special showing and sale of Touch of Class Jewelers at Rhythmix Cultural Works this coming Tuesday, December 15, from about 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (RSVP for a slot by calling 510-714-8035.)

Rhythmix is also offering the community arts and crafts in the K Gallery, which hosts an opening tonight from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. as part the Estuary Art Attack.  The gallery features “the world’s tiniest craft fair.”

Over at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, a holiday gift boutique is open for shoppers and visitors daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through December 21.



World Premiere of Balinese-Hip Hop Dance Staged in Alameda

Rhythmix Cultural Works held two sold-out shows on December 4 and 5 as two Oakland-based groups came together for the world premiere of a blend of Balinese and hip-hop dance, music and spoken word.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya, which includes about 50 musicians playing instruments such as gongs, drums, flutes and metallophones, was led by I Made Arnawa (top photo, right).  The group presented several original instrumental compositions by their guest music director and two numbers from “Legong,” a traditional palace dance.

In the second part of the show, Emiko Saraswati Susilo — guest dance director of GSJ — and Rashidi Omari — artistic director of Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company presented “Tjak Box,” (second photo, standing center).   This new work merged hip-hop and urban dance with Balinese dance and gamelan music. The inspiration for the piece was the story of Kunti and Karna in the Nahabarata, a great Hindu epic.

“Tjak Box” came after several other performances by Destiny Arts that included poems, or monologues, performed by teens in the program. The spoken word part of the presentation highlighted themes like teenage insecurity, loss of innocence, violence, environmental issues, peer pressure and personal growth.

In much of the second half, Destiny Arts and GSJ performers worked together to demonstrate how different cultures communicate both physically and emotionally and how these cultures, when combined, create a mesmerizing mix of ethnicity, talent, music and movement that dramatically conveys a message of empowerment and hope.

The audience was clearly moved by the unique performance on December 4 and gave the groups a standing ovation.

Rhythmix, located at 2513 Blanding Avenue, will host a show put on by students now taking classes at its facilities at 7 p.m. on December 11. And each Wednesday its K Gallery is open from 6 to 9 p.m.