The Weekend List: The arts and culture guide to Seattle's good life

Pacific Northwest Ballet debuts their Alejandro Cerrudo gem, Shabazz Palaces shakes some tailfeathers and the ACT goes double-bill on Japanese opera.
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Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo rehearses his new work, Memory Glow, with Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers.

Pacific Northwest Ballet debuts their Alejandro Cerrudo gem, Shabazz Palaces shakes some tailfeathers and the ACT goes double-bill on Japanese opera.

*denotes events that are $15 or less

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "Director’s Choice"

A few years ago, when PNB’s Peter Boal saw the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago group, he was immediately floored by a piece called “Lickety-Split,” which was choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo. Cerrudo is both a dancer and a dance maker, whose works have been described as both fluid and loose. When Boal started asking colleagues across the country about which choreographer to keep his eye on, folks kept repeating Cerrudo’s name.

So Boal snagged the Spaniard to create a new ballet for PNB, which world premieres this week. It’s an abstract piece inspired by, well, everything. Says Cerrudo: “Everything I see or smell or the people I talk to. I always take inspiration from everything.”

As artistic director, it’s Boal who selects the entire season of reps. But Cerrudo’s piece is part of the annual “Director’s Choice” program, which always embraces modern dance and is the one rep I look the most forward to year after year. Also included in the program: Susan Marshall’s “Kiss,” which is an aerial pas de deux. A pair of dancers, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, are literally in the air; they use harnesses to move on and off the floor. Now seriously, when’s the last time you saw something like that? — F.D.


If you go: Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Director’s Choice” program, featuring works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Molissa Fenley, Susan Marshall and Susan Stroman; McCaw Hall, March 14-23. ($28-$120). 

*Oscar Nominated Short Films

Thursday is the last day to see this year’s Oscar-nominated short films, both animated and live action, at the Harvard Exit Theatre. I went to the animated series last week where I was reminded that short films, the unsung gems of award shows, are more often than not poignant, dark and hilarious, enhanced by their short form rather than limited by it. I was particularly taken by the adorable futuristic tale of Mr. Hublot, which took home this year’s top prize (see trailer below). Two other bonuses: getting to see a handful of films for the price of one and only having to work up a minimal attention span! — N.C.


If you go: Oscar Nominated Short Films, Harvard Exit Theatre, March 13th, ($10). All ages.

*Baby Gramps

The appeal here is partly from the fact that Baby Gramps doesn’t invite comparison. His voice has the same tires-on-a-gravel-road aesthetic as Tom Waits. But his endless variety of bizarre singing styles (he’s an accomplished throat singer, for example) and a reliance on acoustic guitar have more in common with Devendra Banhart and other members of the freak folk genre. Gramps also has roots in the Delta blues, which shouldn’t be overlooked either. After more than 40 years performing in the Northwest, he’s a hometown legend. — J.S-H.


If you go:  Baby Gramps, Conor Byrne Pub, March 13 ($10). 21+.


If the word psybient sounds foreign to you, then you should spend Sunday discovering one of the bands that defines it. Shpongle — Simon Posford and Raja Ram’s psychedelic dance project — combines elements of modern EDM music (trap, glitch, dubstep) with world music. The result is something like Beats Antique, but more intimidating; a listening experience akin to a scene from Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. Expect slower builds and longer songs. These guys came up with bands like Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, so their brand of electronica veers more in that direction, compared to their more modern, drop-obsessed counterparts. Shpongle is touring to showcase their latest LP, Museum of Consciousness.  — J.S-H.


If you go: Sphongle, Neptune Theater, March 13 ($25). All ages.


I would be remiss not to mention what I believe is the most glorious of days. I will be capitalizing on this math-nerd holiday by baking actual pies cherry bourbon, key lime and lamb shepherd’s pie. If you don’t have the time or know-how to make your own, at least go and partake in a slice. Head to Shoofly Pie in West Seattle or go to Seattle Center or Fremont's Pie for sweet and savory confections for $3.14 apiece. A La Mode Pies on Phinney Ridge will also be serving up such wonders as white chocolate banana cream and lemon macaroon tart. “Pie-curious” t-shirts will allow you to continue the celebration year-round. — N.C.

If you go: Pi Day, Various venues throughout, all-day March 14, (price varies).

*A Noh Double Bill with Seattle’s Fisher Ensemble and guest Munenori Takeda

Garrett Fisher, the genre-defying “new music” musician, is at work on a new opera that’s Noh-inspired. Noh is a traditional Japanese form of drama that weaves both dance and song. “What I love about the form is that the stories are so simple, but at the same time they’re deep,” Fisher says.

He’ll premiere his new work in September, but this is a chance to catch a sneak peek on a double bill that features one of Japan’s preeminent Noh Masters, Munenori Takeda.

“A lot of Western opera is big expression and broad strokes,” Fisher says. “I find Noh’s approach just as emotional, but it’s an approach more in line with what you might find in a film, where an actor’s single gesture or glance can reveal an intense mood. I think the time is ripe for Noh to find its popularity with Western audiences.”  Produced by the Japan Arts Connection Lab. — F.D.

If you go: A Noh Double Bill, ACT Theatre, March 14, ($10). 

*If You Build It

This documentary focuses on a design program for high school students in the poorest county of North Carolina. But what a pair of designers aim to do is to steer the teens into building something large-scale that can benefit their entire community. A story about teaching, creativity, transformation and faith in oneself, by the filmmaker who directed “Wordplay,” that other great doc about crossword puzzles. The Saturday 7:15 p.m. screening features designers who led a recent weekend design program for Seattle students. — F.D. 

If you go: If You Build It, SIFF Film Center, March 14-16, ($8).

*Shabazz Palaces

When I discovered Shabazz Palaces’ debut LP, Black Up, I knew by the second listen it would make my Top 10 list of greatest all-time hip-hop albums. The hyper-intelligent rapping, the velvety dubstep-esque beats, the obtuse, polysyllabic song titles — It’s the perfect recipe for how rap will sound 10 years in the future if all goes well. The icing on the cake: Fans of old school hip-hop can wig out over Shabazz too, because Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler of the avant garde ‘90s hip hop group Digable Planets is Shabazz’s frontman. His raps, still impeccable today, find new significance when paired with modern production. This show is only $3 if you sell your soul to Red Bull and RSVP online, but admission is first-come, first-served — so show up early. The group's followers are numerous. — J.S-H.

If you go:  Shabazz Palaces, Tractor Tavern, March 18 ($3-10). 21+.

*Family Affair

Every month, performer Jennifer Jasper hosts “Family Affair,” a night of family storytelling. People from all corners of the arts community — storytellers, visual artists, musicians — come together to share their experiences and “the dark, crazy, sweet, frustrating, loving mess that is every person’s family.” The night ends with Jasper sharing a story of her own, randomly selected from her box of Jasper Jewels. Hold onto your own skeletons or baggage and indulge in hearing about someone else's. — N.C.

If you go: Family Affair, The Rendezvous, March 19, ($10).

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About the Authors & Contributors

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Joseph Sutton-Holcomb

Joseph is a full-time landscaper, part-time journalist and full time culture junkie discovering the hidden joys of life as a UW graduate in Seattle. When not taking care of plants or writing, he spends his time in the company of good friends enjoying film, music and the great outdoors.