Tag Archives: Northwest Tap Connection

Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival Offers Creativity and Celebration for All Ages

by Chamidae Ford


September 3 marks the beginning of the first annual Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival. The four-day event represents a multigenerational depiction of art — from poetry and dancing to music and visual art. The festival allows attendees space to go beyond observing by providing workshops for them to engage. 

The free event, located at the Rainier Beach Community Center’s outdoor pavilion, is being hosted by Monique Franklin (Verbal Oasis). The festival is supported by the Seattle Park District and Created Commons, a program of the Office of Arts & Culture Seattle. 

“I’ve been performing in Seattle for over 15 years now, but in the process of being a performance artist, I’ve also been producing shows for that length of time. And I produce shows from children all the way up through adults with a specific focus on bringing together a multi-gender generational community of Black artists,” Franklin said. “So in some ways, you could say that this festival is about 15 years in the making.”

Beginning on Sept. 3 and running from 6:30 to 9 p.m. will be the Muezz Poetry Show. Each night stars a different lineup of local poets and performers and will feature the Seattle Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith, Amber Flame, Robert Lashley, and many more. There will also be an open mic portion of each evening, with a writing workshop before the show to allow attendees to create something to share. 

“There is the invitation to engage in art. So when [people] come, we’ll have some art activities that they can participate in, including being a part of the show. …” Franklin said. “What they can expect is a warm welcome, some great music, some of the best artists in Seattle in painting, dancing, and spoken-word poetry.”

Creating a multigenerational festival was very important to Franklin. That’s why on Sept. 5 and 6, the Inspired Child’s open mic from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. will encourage children from 2 to 12 years old to take the stage. 

“Young people will be featured in those events to give them opportunities to build their performance resumes, perform, and curate their own performances for an audience,” Franklin said. 

This weekend is not just for performing but discussing the power of spoken word, art, and community. Franklin challenges those in attendance to come with an open mind and be willing to participate. 

“I think [the festival] is gonna be an experience,” Franklin said. “I would love it for people to come open to that experience and leave inspired. I think art is healing and art is also transformative and it allows us to learn from others. And so I think to be engaged in a community where everybody is participating in that is truly a give and take, whether the audience is choosing to become a part of a show in the open mic or if they’re just choosing to give that energy and attention to the artist who’s on stage, they’re a part of it. I think what people can expect is to feel.”

Events like these also represent a cost-effective way to explore different artistic routes before investing deeply in them. Cipher Goings from Northwest Tap Connection will be teaching free tennis shoe tap lessons. There will be writing workshops and painting sessions, allowing families to explore whether they are truly interested in pursuing an artistic path. 

“It gives exposure so that families and individuals can say, wow, I actually liked that. I actually want to invest in this now,” Franklin said. “Exposing people to art creates an opportunity for them to activate the artist that I think is in all of us and find the road that best suits them.”

The festival represents an opportunity to get outside with your family and connect with your community through art. The weekend offers a wide range of artists across different disciplines and generations expressing themselves. 

“Being able to celebrate and to share and keep an open mind provides an opportunity to really share your experiences with other people and for other people to hear what’s going on in the hearts and the minds of their community members,” Franklin said. “Activating these [public] spaces is critical, especially right now.”

Admission to the festival is free, but there will be capacity limitations to allow for social distancing. You can secure a spot by going online and claiming a ticket for the Muezz Poetry Show and Inspired Child Open Mic before the event. Masks are required for admittance and attendees are asked to wear them throughout the entirety of the event. Temperature checks and contact-tracing will also be done upon entrance. 

The community partners of this event are Inspired Child Studios, Northwest Tap Connection, Central District Forum For Arts and Ideas, Seattle Filmmakers of the African Diaspora, Abstract Media, ONYX Fine Arts Collective, and African-American Writers’ Alliance.


Chamidae Ford is a recent journalism graduate of the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.

Featured Image: Photo courtesy of Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival.

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The Morning Update Show — 8/9/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, August 9

Live From the Liberty Bank Building | Where Are the Good-Paying Jobs for Our People in the Trades? | LIVE — Jeret Garcia of Valley Electric | LIVE — Sean Bagsby of IBEW Local 46 | LIVE — Patrick McGlothlin of Lydig Construction | A Look Back at NW Tap Connection at the Paramount

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 8/9/21

The Morning Update Show — 8/6/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Friday, August 6

LIVE — Rell Be Free | LIVE — NW Tap Connection | LIVE — Ricardo Frazer | LIVE — Ike Everard | LIVE — Councilmember Larry Gossett | LIVE — Dr. Chemene Crawford | #FeelGoodFriday

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 8/6/21

PHOTO ESSAY: Northwest Tap Connection’s Third Annual Gullah Geechee Festival

by Susan Fried


Melba Ayco, the founder and artistic director of Northwest Tap Connection is a Gullah Geechee and Creole storyteller and last Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, Northwest Tap celebrated their third annual Seattle Gullah Geechee Festival. Ms. Melba told stories about Gullah Geechee traditions around food, culture, and heritage. She talked about the importance of family and the practice of lifting the baby up during a Gullah christening, the significance of the conch shell in Gullah spirituality, and the history behind the “Emancipation” maypole. In-between the stories, Northwest Tap dancers and instructors performed numerous dances inspired by Gullah Geechee heritage.

Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Northwest Tap Connection’s Third Annual Gullah Geechee Festival

PHOTO ESSAY: First Weekend of ‘Reopening’ in South Seattle

by Susan Fried


The Fourth of July weekend was also the first official weekend that King County dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, and many people in South Seattle were excited to finally go to their favorite places, sit down across from friends and family, and take their masks off (as long as they’d been vaccinated). 

Individual businesses could ask customers to wear masks, but many allowed those who had been vaccinated to go mask free, trusting them to be honest about whether they’d been vaccinated or not. Some businesses chose to ask patrons to continue wearing masks while others opted to not fully open.

For many South End residents, things almost felt like they were back to a pre-pandemic normal.  

Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: First Weekend of ‘Reopening’ in South Seattle

The Morning Update Show — 5/24/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, May 24

SPD Cop on CBS Has a History of Violence | More Bodycam Footage From Louisiana State Police | NAACP Says “Say their name” | Mike Davis “Claps Back” | Northwest Tap Connection

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 5/24/21

Rising Star Estrella Gonzales-Sanders Featured in New Debbie Allen Netflix Documentary

by Jasmine M. Pulido

Estrella Gonzales-Sanders’ parents may have been prophetic when they named her Estrella, the Spanish word for “star.” The young Renton resident has already danced in front of notable stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Barry Gordy, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Now, she has landed a small feature in Debbie Allen’s newly released Netflix documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. And at age 12, Estrella’s own rise to stardom has only just begun.

Continue reading Rising Star Estrella Gonzales-Sanders Featured in New Debbie Allen Netflix Documentary

Northwest Tap Connection Raising $75,000 to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Shann Thomas


Outside of the Northwest Tap Connection studio a vibrant mural by Lawrence Pitre stands tall with an Alice Walker quote smack in the center: “Furious Times Require Furious Dancing.”

For now, however, dancing inside of Northwest Tap has come to a screeching halt. Like many small businesses, the impact of COVID 19 has temporarily shut the doors of Northwest Tap. Continue reading Northwest Tap Connection Raising $75,000 to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic

Othello Block Party’s Second Volume Drops July 27

by Emerald Staff

The Othello Block Party is back with a second volume of music, dance, and arts on Martin Luther King Jr. Way July 27. And this time with an expansive lineup of Seattle artists bringing songs, dance, and poetry to the of 42nd Avenue near Othello Street.

Continue reading Othello Block Party’s Second Volume Drops July 27

PHOTOS: Northwest Tap Connection Celebrates National Tap Day

story and photos by Susan Fried

Northwest Tap Connection students, staff, their families, friends, and the community didn’t let a little rain deter them from having a great time celebrating National Tap Dance Day Saturday May 25 at Northwest Tap Connection’s dance studio on Rainier Avenue.

Continue reading PHOTOS: Northwest Tap Connection Celebrates National Tap Day