10 things to do in Seattle

Skateboard deck by Trevor Hunt

Kwaguilth tribe member Trevor Hunt’s ‘Kwakiutl Raven’ longboard deck, part of Stonington Gallery’s exhibit ‘Fast Forward: Skateboards and Paddles.’ (Photo courtesy of the gallery.)

Savion Glover
Savion Glover brings contemporary tap to The Moore.

Savion Glover: All Funk’d Up

If you consider tap dancing an outdated art form, it’s time to acquaint yourself with Savion Glover. Through his many performances and the dance school he founded, Glover is working to kick tap’s goofy vaudeville stereotype to the curb, and enlighten new audiences about the movement style’s timeless appeal. As dance legend Gregory Hines once said, “Savion is possibly the best tap dancer that ever lived” — and at that point Glover was only 12 years old. At age 15, he became one of the youngest people nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Black and Blue. In 1996, he blew Broadway away with Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk, a show he starred in and choreographed. With his new show, All Funk’d Up, he brings his vast body of tap knowledge, improvisational skills and slammin’ rhythms to a live concert format, with a six-piece band and several dancers backing his unbeatable footwork. —B.D.

If you go: The Moore Theatre, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ($37-$47)


Skateboard by Allie High
‘Slipstream,’ an otter-adorned skateboard deck by Aleut/ Haida/Tsimshian artist Allie High. (Photo courtesy of Stonington Gallery)

Fast Forward: Skateboards and Paddles

Taking as its theme “modern and traditional modes of transportation,” this new show at Stonington Gallery presents a winning collection of skateboards and paddles, all carved and painted by contemporary Native American, First Nations and Native Alaskan artists. In terms of a “canvas,” these two utilitarian devices share not just a similarity of form (long and narrow), but also a common purpose — to help the user slice through an environment smoothly. In addition, the flat surface can be transformed into a showcase for personal expression. Troy Roberts (Wei Wai Kum/Kwakiutl) uses abalone for eyes and glossy red acrylic for the extended tongue on his  “Sisiutl Steering Paddle” elaborately carved from yellow cedar. Tribally certified Indian Artisan Angela Swedberg incorporates glass beadwork into her skateboard deck, adorned with galloping horses and titled, “My Little Urban Pony.” And Seattle-based glass artist Dan Friday (Lummi) paints his “Land Canoe” skateboard with vivid red and blue, using traditional Coast Salish shapes, including circles, crescents and trigons. This bright, clever show will have you thinking about your own methods of self-propulsion. —B.D.

If you go: Stonington Gallery through Jan. 6 (Free)

Carolina Caycedo's Water Portraits
Carolina Caycedo’s ‘Water Portraits’ call attention to the damage done by dams. (Photo by Jonathan Vanderweit)

Between Bodies

This environmentally focused group show at the Henry Art Gallery might as easily have been called Beyond Bodies, given the way it takes viewers past their standard corporeal limits. In Swiss artist Ursula Biemann’s video installation, Acoustic Ocean, shot on Norway’s Lofoten Islands, she immerses viewers in the low-level frequencies and “vocal signals” of the North Atlantic, magically disclosing “a sea full of intentions” now under climate-change threat. Abraham Avnisen and micha cárdenas’ Sin Sol, Forest Memory at first seems to be a walk through a forest thick with wildfire smoke. It takes a moment to realize the forest is sliding toward you on three fronts (thanks to a neat augmented-reality trick), creating the highly disorienting sensation of being engulfed by it. Carolina Caycedo’s Water Portraits are dye-sublimation prints on canvas, though “canvas” is a misleading word here. These aren’t paintings neatly hung on walls. They’re waterfall-high cascades of material spilling from the ceiling, evoking the spirits of rivers in Germany and South America, where large dams are having a detrimental impact on the landscape. Not every work in the show is as monumental or impressive. But this group meditation on the “intimate exchanges and entwined relations between human and more-than-human bodies within contexts of ongoing ecological and geological change” hits its mark more often than not. —M.U.

If you go: Henry Art Gallery through April 28, 2019. ($6-$10)

Holiday shows

Fiddler on the Roof
“What does it mean, this fiddler on the roof who fiddles every night and fiddles every noon?” Find out at SIFF.  (Photo courtesy of SIFF)

Fiddler on the Roof sing-along

On Dec. 25, families all over Seattle gather for an age-old tradition: Chinese food and a movie. SIFF is happy to help, with its annual holiday sing-along screening of Norman Jewison’s 1971 classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof. The story follows shtetl milkman Tevye as he witnesses his daughters coming of age in a culture of increasing anti-Semitism. The highly singable song list includes “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” but don’t worry if you aren’t feeling fit as a Fiddler — lyrics are provided. Tickets include takeout Chinese food (kosher, of course) and live klezmer music before the show by Orkestyr Farfeleh. Mazel tov! —B.D.

If you go: SIFF Cinema Uptown, Dec. 25 at noon. ($20-$25 )

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Things are pleasant and pretty, if a tad dull, on Christmas Eve in the country home of the Stahlbaums — until, that is, young Clara falls asleep and her holiday season takes a hallucinatory turn. A band of mice, led by a seven-headed Mouse King, invade the Stahlbaum parlor, where everything — including the clock, the chaise longue and the Christmas tree — grow to enormous size. Toy soldiers and candy canes come to life, and a Sugar Plum Fairy launches into an ecstatic dance-off/duet with her Cavalier. On the night I saw Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Leta Biasucci was a sublime Sugar Plum Fairy and Lucien Postlewaite a dashing Cavalier. But Ian Falconer (scenic and costume design) and James F. Ingalls (lighting) shine just as brightly as they create candy-cane-striped psychedelia on the McCaw Hall stage. —M.U.

If you go: Pacific Northwest Ballet at McCaw Hall through Dec. 28, times vary ($37-$209, with $33-$189 tickets available for children 12 and under)

Let There Be Light installation
Iconic Pacific Northwest images light up the Pier 86 Grain Terminal. (Photo courtesy Friends of Pier 86)

Let There Be Light

The 222-foot-tall façade of Seattle’s Pier 86 Grain Terminal is getting lit up for the winter solstice — in projected video art by Pacific Northwest artists, who’ll use the Seattle landmark as a canvas. First up is SIGNALS by Nicolas Sassoon (from Vancouver, B.C.) and Rick Silva (Eugene, Oregon), offering “abstract immersive visual renderings of altered seascapes.” Next comes Hexagon Misfits, by Chris Rojas (Seattle) and Craig Winslow (Portland, Oregon), which explores “the past, present and future of the Seattle waterfront and the Northwest peoples with 3D imaging, projection mapping and historical moments.” Best viewing, according to the organizers, is from Centennial Park, Myrtle Edwards Park, SAM Sculpture Park and ferries and ships in Elliott Bay. —M.U.

If you go: Friends of Pier 86, Pier 86 Grain Terminal through Dec. 21, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. (Free)

Holiday Cabaret Shows

There’s something about Seattle in December that makes certain performers want to take their clothes off. Case in point, our annual eruption of Yuletide-themed burlesque shows. Verlaine & McCann’s Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker pirouettes back into The Triple Door, with an original live score played by a crackerjack nine-piece jazz orchestra. Kitten N’ Lou’s Homo for the Holidays: Jingle All the Gay, with guest star Cherdonna Shinatra and guests from New York, San Francisco and the U.K., wraps its performative gifts up in a sparkly bow and presents them at Capitol Hill’s Oddfellows Building. Can Can Culinary Cabaret’s Wonderland (covered here previously) features some very sexy snowflakes. And, of course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without The Dina Martina Christmas Show. The boundlessly confident and excruciatingly talentless drag chanteuse with a knack for mangling the English language isn’t exactly a striptease artist, but she does occasionally grace her audiences with expansive glimpses of her hairy back (thanks to the far-from-plus-size evening wear she dons). Her keyboard accompanist for her shows at ACT Theatre is “Adult Prodigy” Chris Jeffries, whose poker face is almost as much fun to watch as Ms. Martina. —M.U.

If you go:

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker, The Triple Door through Dec. 30, times vary. ($45-$85)

Homo for the Holidays, Oddfellows Building through Dec. 30, times vary. ($35-$40)

The Dina Martina Christmas Show, ACT Theatre through Dec. 24, times vary. ($27-$47)

Wonderland, Can Can Culinary Cabaret through Jan. 13, times vary. ($40-$95)


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About the Authors & Contributors

Michael Upchurch

Novelist Michael Upchurch (“Passive Intruder”) has written about books and the Seattle arts scene for the past 30 years.