Art series to celebrate Arab, Croatian and Hmong cultures

Arts Gumbo 2006, a series produced by SouthEast Effective Development (SEED), will present the traditional arts of three diverse world cultures on September 9, October 13 and November 3. The series is held at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center (3515 S. Alaska St.), in Columbia City.

On Saturday, September 9, Arts Gumbo opens with an Arab Arts program featuring a performance at 6 p.m. by The MB Orchestra, a Debke dancing workshop (Arabic line dancing) at 7 p.m., traditional Arab food provided by Bil-Hana at 8 p.m. and the film, "Turtles Can Fly" at 9 p.m. The program is presented in collaboration with the Arab Center of Washington.

The MB Orchestra features internationally renowned oud player Maurice Sadak Rouman, who has been composing and performing ancient Egyptian "Pharoanic" music for more than 40 years. For the last 30 years Sadak, his two sons and son-in-law have integrated Western pop, R&B, Latin, Persian, Greek and Turkish styles to reflect the changing trends of modern Arabic music. The group combines vocals, oud (a lute-like instrument), dumbeck (traditional hand drum), percussion and keyboards. The set will also include belly dancing by Hands of Fatima Belly Dance Troupe.

Bahman Ghobadi's third narrative feature film, "Turtles Can Fly" is a bittersweet tale from the perspective of children in a small mountainous Kurdish village in the days just before and after the American invasion of Iraq. On the Iraqi-Turkish border, enterprising 13-year-old "Satellite" (Soren Ebrahim) is the de facto leader of a Kurdish village, thanks to his ability to install satellite dishes and translate news of the pending US invasion. Organizing fellow orphans into landmine-collection teams so they can eke out a living, he is all business, until the arrival of a clairvoyant boy and his quiet, beautiful sister. The film uses Kurdish language with English subtitles (95 minutes, not rated) and is appropriate for audiences age 12 and older.

In partnership with the Seattle Public Library at Columbia Branch, Arts Gumbo is offering a Book Club Reading and discussion. The novel "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" by Laila Lalami will be available for sign out, and a discussion group will be held on Thursday, Sept. 7 at Columbia Library (4761 Rainier Av. S.) at 6:45 p.m. Call 386-1908 for more information. The book tells the story of four Moroccans who illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain, and Laila Lalami evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco.

Now in its sixth year, Arts Gumbo is appropriate for families and audience of all ages. The series continues Friday, October 13 with Damir's Ensemble to celebrate the music and culture of Croatia. The series closes Friday November 3 with a Hmong celebration, including a vocalist performance by Thai artist Paj Zaub Lauj.

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