Music & Dance

An incredibly diverse line-up of artists with work that speaks on the ocean from a multiplicity of cultural experiences, brought to you online this year through video premieres of music, dance and aerial circus. Watch the homepage for the premieres, then catch the rest here.

Deanna Riley, aerial

She floats in the air, green and blue hair swirling. With water as her backdrop, she creates aerial magic. Deanna Riley, of Vuelta la Luna circus, has been a favorite at Tacoma Ocean Fest since 2018. This year, she brings a musical partner: festival director Rosemary Ponnekanti, playing deep, looping ocean harmonies on her double bass.

Dakota Camacho, dance

When Dakota Camacho dances, poetry unfolds. Grounded in ancestral lineage (Matao/CHamoru, Ilokano), Camacho works to reclaim embodied indigenous knowing with haunting, original music and visual storytelling. 

But maybe most importantly, in dance Dakota describes inafa’maolek: unifying human consciousness with the natural world.

Cindy Renander, bass clarinet

What instrument sounds most like the deep ocean? Bass clarinet! Those gutsy, reedy low notes perfectly capture the silent, mysterious creatures that live so far beneath. Clarinettist Cindy Renander plays them in works by San Juans composer Alex Shapiro.

Gretchen Yanover, cello

Aaahh…feel those silvery waves of looping electric cello wash over you….We love Gretchen Yanover, and we’re thrilled she’s back for Tacoma Ocean Fest Online 2020 to record a brand-new video premiere shot in the depths of the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Marisela Fleites & Flamenco Sabor

Flamenco dancer Marisela Fleites was a hit at the 2018 Ocean Fest and now she’s back with live musicians and a flowing, ocean-blue dress. With her brother Alejandro Fleites on guitar and neice Eva Reutercrona on flute, Flamenco Sabor plays the Astor Piazzolla tango “Oblivion” in a piece called “Waves of Hope.” So perfect for our time.

T.U.P.A.C., ballet

Covid-19 can’t stop dance. Inspired by the story of Harriet Tubman, dancers from Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center recreated it in ballet form, rehearsed over Zoom and are screening the Act II premiere on the Tacoma Ocean Fest website! For Harriet, water is both a barrier and a way to freedom.

Paul Chiokten Wagner, flute

Paul Chiokten Wagner’s music comes from nature – as he says, “the deep silence and spirit that lives in the ancient forests and waters of the Salish Sea region.” From the Saanich tribe of southern Vancouver Island, Paul is both a renowned performer on flute and drums, and a protector of our waters – including a recent Prayer Walk from Tahoma to the Salish Sea.

PLU Steel Pan Ensemble

Need some Caribbean joy in your life right now? Islands love the ocean, and we’re bringing you a music video premiere of music from Trinidad, Togabo and St. Thomas by the PLU Steel Pan Ensemble! And stories from Trinidad, where this iconic instrument was invented.

Annie Crawley, film & Brass Band Northwest

Sail away, sail away…over the ocean, with a brand-new Annie Crawley film! Our 2018 speaker/artist is back with a breathtaking ocean film set to a local soundtrack: Brass Band Northwest in their own arrangement of the hypnotic Enya classic, “Orinoco Flow.”

Tacoma City Ballet

Remember “Whalesong” – 60 lithe ballet dancers creating fins, tails and breaches under massive blue-green-purple silk wave? It’s back for this year’s festival with both original 1990 and Ocean Fest 2019 recordings, to the haunting humpback whale song of “Ocean Dream.”