Mix international award-winning dancers with Seattle's world music champions, add a stage director/story teller who pioneered diversity training, bring on a thousand-year-old griot and what do you have? Comedy, drama, pageantry and all the magic of "Ozya: An Urban Odyssey."
On Oct. 25, at 7:30 pm, the Rainier Valley Cultural Center presents "Ozya: An Urban Odyssey" as part of its 2008 Arts Gumbo Series. Arts Gumbo is a 9-year-old performing arts series that serves up a mixture of diverse cultures, different art forms, distinctive cuisine, unique ideas and common issues and takes place at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S. Alaska St.
"Ozya," the brainchild of KBCS storyteller Auntmama (Mary Anne Moorman) tells the story of high-schooler Fred Ordona as he navigates between the dreams of his immigrant family and the streets of Southeast Seattle. He has much to overcome, struggling with his parent's dreams and his school rival Twixt, who has his own challenges to overcome. The two battle on the dance floor for acceptance, love, and space. Enemies become allies when gangs threaten the old and new ways of life and Twixt's mom is willing to lay down her life to keep her son out of a gang.
Ozya, a larger-than-life West African griot was created by Seattle's brilliant puppet designer, Jean Enticknap of Thistle Puppet Theatre. Ozya knows the past and future of the Emerald City and steers the families across the great divides between immigration, migration and gentrification.
Stories for the script were gathered by youth in the Ozya Leadership Laboratory from local immigrants and citizens representing some of the 38 language groups living in Southeast Seattle. The play is told in dance, spoken word and music. Massive Monkees and A Justice Network unite all Ozya cultures in breathtaking break, ballet and modern dance. Big World Breaks plays the music every generation loves and Seattle Slam host Amber Flame joins Auntmama to tell the tale.
Ozya Leadership Lab youth will lead a community discussion following the show and hors d'oeuvres will be provided by HIDMO Restaurant. All generations are invited to a free dance and social justice workshop led by One Family, 206 Zulu Nation and other artists on Sunday, Oct. 26 from 2 – 6 p.m. at RVCC.
Advance tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com or at the door, 3515 S. Alaska St., one hour before the production. Advance ticket prices are $7 for children 12 and under; $10 for students and seniors; $12 for adults; $30 for families up to 4 people. For more information on the 2008 Arts Gumbo Series, visit www.seedseattle.org or call 206-760-4286.