Bay Area Choreographer Finding Inspiration in Alameda’s Waterways

Courtesy photo Dancers rehearse for Island City Waterways, a free public art project choreographed by Kim Epifano, inside the theater at Rhythmix Cultural Works. Performances take place May 20 to 22 at four stops along the Waterfront Trail.

 

Rhythmix Cultural Works will welcome audiences to explore and celebrate the confluence of these ingredients with a free public art event combining dance, music, storytelling and visual art presented by more than two dozen artists.

The Island City Waterways is an event that will highlight the city’s connections to the water from the time of the Ohlone people to the completion of the tidal canal between Oakland and Alameda that created the Island City.

The 90-minute walking art tour will take place May 21 and 22. It will cover a half-mile route between the Fruitvale and Park Street bridges. It will offer plenty of opportunities for public participation, from singing along to chalk drawing. The centerpiece of the event will be performances by 10 dancers, directed by award-winning choreographer Kim Epifano of San Francisco’s Epiphany Productions. 

Known for her innovative site-specific choreography, she’s become a master at pulling off performances outside a theater’s cozy confines. Her San Francisco Trolley Dances, now in its 13th year, take place on and around public transportation in San Francisco.

“The unexpected moments that happen when performing in a public space can contribute to some of the greatest choreography,” said Epifano.

Epifano is a recipient of numerous awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the ARC Residency and the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, among others. She has traveled the globe seeking inspiration and presenting work.

“There are places in your own city that feel like another world,” she says. Calling Alameda special to her, Epifano says she hopes Island City Waterways will draw attention to the city’s uniqueness and help promote the protection of its waterways.

Other artists participating in the project include painter and chalk artist Mark Lewis Wagner, video installation artist Alessandro Moruzzi, environmental painter Ginny Parsons and Maze Daiko, a taiko-based percussion ensemble. Rhythmix founder and artistic director Janet Koike, who dreamed up the project in consultation with Epifano, says she hopes this year’s event is just the start. 

“I envision new editions of Waterways elsewhere in Alameda every two years,” said Koike. “There are many great sources of water and maritime history to explore, from Neptune Beach to the China Clipper.”

Island City Waterways takes place May 21 and 22. Free 90-minute, half-mile tours start at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm each day, near the foot of the Fruitvale Bridge at Tilden Way and Blanding Avenue. Arrive 30 minutes early to park and register. Limited advance reservations available at www.islandcitywaterways.org. Additional slots available by walk up on a first-come, first-served basis at the event.

 

Daniel Nevers is the associate director of Rhythmix Cultural Works.