ODC/DANCE TO PERFORM IN
ISLAND CITY WATERWAYS: UPROOTED
This admission-free public art event explores the history of Alameda Point in Alameda, California, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
May 21 - 22, 2022
Mia J. Chong, center, photographed by Andy Mogg.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, March 8, 2022 – ODC/Dance is proud to partner with Rhythmix Cultural Works in the third edition of ISLAND CITY WATERWAYS, an admission-free public art event celebrating the unique past and present of Alameda, California. This year’s event, subtitled Uprooted, will take place May 21 - 22 at the site of the former Naval Air Station on the island’s western edge, called Alameda Point. There will be four performances each day at 10 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Reservations will open online later this month at islandcitywaterways.org.
Conceived and directed by Rhythmix Founder and Artistic Director Janet Koike, Island City Waterways: Uprooted spotlights the history of Alameda Point, an area currently experiencing rapid new development. From the rise of civilian flight, to the staging of four wars, to the repurposing of land to fill the promise of a community’s future, this 75-minute performance will lead audiences on a journey “from the wings of peace to the wings of war and from boot camp to internment camp,” said Koike. “The title Uprooted refers to the young draftees, itinerant military families and workers who pulled up roots to follow the industry of war. It also refers to those who suffered the fallout of fear and political targeting.”
For its contribution to the program, ODC/Dance has drawn upon a collection of letters belonging to ODC Associate Choreographer Kimi Okada. In 1942, following Executive Order 9066 ordering Japanese Americans and their families to be incarcerated as an act of national security, Okada’s parents were sent to Camp Walerga, a holding camp outside of Sacramento, before being relocated to Tule Lake in the eastern Sierras. They had been married only two weeks at the time of the order.
While in confinement, Okada’s mother, May, saved onionskin carbon copies of every letter she wrote, and her detailed observations and descriptions of daily life offer a window into an infamous time in history. “My mother’s letters from camp express a dry wit and appreciation for life that reveals an ability to endure the indignities of the internment camps both physically and spiritually,” said Okada.
“Her letters surface the timely issue of how we cope with the injustices of racism and the confines of imprisonment. While the piece explores the question of how one responds to a national betrayal, it is ultimately about the power of community that allows each person to find a path to resilience.”
ODC Founder and Artistic Director Brenda Way joined Okada in choreographing the piece for Uprooted. “I was lucky to have known May before she died, and I had a strong connection with her,” said Way. “She was an independent woman, a true eccentric, and it’s been an honor and a tremendous pleasure to reread her letters and imagine ways to bring them to life.”
“ODC has a long history of making works that touch on our private lives, both the celebratory and the traumatic. It is a fitting tribute to that history that we return this year, at ODC's half-century mark, to the outdoors for a site-specific piece that blurs the line between the personal and the political, private and public, local and national – between history and poetry."
The members of ODC/Dance this season include Jeremy Bannon-Neches, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Mia J. Chong, Cora Cliburn, Brandon "Private" Freeman, Rachel Furst, Allie Papazian, Simon Schuh, Ryan Rouland Smith, Christian Squires and Miche Wong.
In addition to ODC/Dance, Uprooted will feature performances by theater company 13th Floor, jazz ensemble Akira Tana Trio, and Maze Daiko, a taiko-based percussion group.
Island City Waterways: Uprooted is a partnership between Rhythmix Cultural Works and the City of Alameda Community Development Department in conjunction with artistic partner ODC/Dance and community partners including the Alameda Unified School District, Alameda Point Collaborative, the Downtown Alameda Business Association, the West Alameda Business Association and local developer, srmErnst.
Island City Waterways has received an Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Creative California Communities award from the California Arts Council and support from the City of Alameda’s Public Art Commission.
ABOUT RHYTHMIX CULTURAL WORKS
Rhythmix Cultural Works (RCW) celebrates 15 years as a community arts center bringing people of all ages together for a wide range of high-quality arts experiences. Located in the city of Alameda, RCW offers a beautifully renovated 150-seat theater, art gallery and classroom as affordable space for live performances, exhibitions and arts education opportunities for youth, families and adults. RCW supports local artists and the East Bay community through virtual and live classes, performances and creative participation in the arts.
Founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, ODC is a groundbreaking contemporary arts institution: a world-class dance company (ODC/Dance), a theater with year-round presenting and mentorship programs (ODC Theater), a training school for dancers and movers of all levels (ODC School), and a fee-free, educational Healthy Dancers’ Clinic. Known nationally for its entrepreneurial savvy and artistic innovation, ODC is unique for its holistic vision, now including a robust digital platform. With its home in San Francisco’s Mission District, ODC makes a dynamic contribution to the Bay Area’s vibrant dance and arts ecosystem, cultivating artists, inspiring audiences, engaging the community, and fostering diversity and inclusion through dance, performance, training and mentorship.