Fest Fever

Bollywood-style dancers are among the performances featured at the Asian Student Association Culture Show at Monterey Peninsula College.

The Sea Otter Classic and Pebble Beach Food & Wine will score a lot of attention this week. But there are a number of other festivals that deserve consideration because they are creative, community-focused and free.

2nd Annual Latinx Poetix Symposium

In the midst of National Poetry Month, the second iteration of this poetry festival is already growing. Co-founded by Rachelle Escamilla and Angel Dominguez, last year it brought five poets to the fore in two lively events at two different venues. This year, 10 poets are coming to four events at three venues.

It opens 6pm Thursday, April 11, with a reading at CSUMB’s Alumni & Visitor’s Center of Omnidawn Poetry Prize winning poet Jose-Luis Moctezuma, nationally recognized poet and editor Blas Falconer, local spoken word artist MC La Sofa Queen, and others.

The next day, Friday, it moves to the CSUMB Salinas Center for Arts & Culture for a panel discussion at 10am on the Latinx (pronounced “Latin ex”) voice in modern American poetry. That morphs into a free writing workshop and open mic, 11am-noon, by the bilingual and multicultural Circula de Poetas and Writers.

It all culminates with a poetry reading 7pm Friday at Old Capitol Books featuring all the Latinx poets.

“That reading is going to be fantastic,” Escamilla writes by email. “My vision is to turn the Latinx Poetix Symposium into a nationally connected festival that eventually makes CSUMB, Salinas and Monterey a hub for Latinx writers.”

6pm Thursday at CSUMB Alumni & Visitor’s Center, Seaside; 10am and 11am Friday at CSUMB Salinas Center for Arts & Culture, Salinas; 6pm Friday at Old Capitol Books, Monterey. Free. csumb.edu.

Latinx LGBTQ+ Film Festival

This 4-year-old film festival segues almost seamlessly, by its shared Latinx content and relay-race of a timeline, from the poetry festival above. It fills two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, with key feature films, short films, panels and mixers that revolve around the lives of the Latinx/LGBTQ+ community through its mission: “To see ourselves as the healers and those who need healing.”

It begins with the feature documentary Chavela (12:30pm Sat), about Chavela Vargas, a beloved and controversial singer who openly dressed like a man, sang passionate ranchera songs to women, and was resolutely herself.

Full length feature Saturday Church (5:35pm Sat) follows Ulysses, an ostracized 14-year-old boy who is learning about his gender identity from a group of transgender women of a youth program called Saturday Church.

At 12:40pm Sunday, the keynote speaker Roselyn Macias, who works with the LGBTQ+ community through the nonprofit California Rural Legal Assistance and Salinas-based Conexiones, will talk about coming out as a transgender woman.

Noon-8pm Saturday and noon-5pm Sunday, April 13-14, at Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, Salinas. Free. @LatinxFilmFestival.

18th Annual Asian Student Association Culture Show

There are plenty of adages that tote the rewards of traveling to other countries – the immersion in another language, music, food, customs, arts and landscape. Well except for the landscape part, the 18th Annual Asian Student Association Culture Show at Monterey Peninsula College will deliver a lot of that other stuff. It’s only two hours long, but thanks to the diversity of the Monterey Peninsula, they can pack in a festival’s worth of culture.

Most of it comes in the form of dance showcases of Indian Bollywood dance, Middle Eastern belly dance, Korean, Filipino and Chinese dances. They will be accompanied by traditional music, of course, including a live performance on Chinese musical instruments. There will be free food and treats from different Asian countries, and a demonstration of Vietnamese Vovinam martial arts, a synthesis of other martial arts created in 1936.

Founder and MPC faculty member Tuyen Nguyen (pronounced “twin win”) says, “[The show] is an opportunity to understand the culture of one another.”

7:30-9:30pm Saturday, April 13, at Music Hall, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey. Free. 646-4154.

Monterey Ocean Arts Festival

For the past few years, SpectorDance has been working closely with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to interpret ocean science through dance, video, music, rap, costuming, design and sound bites in their multimedia dance piece Ocean Trilogy. That work will be performed April 25 at Sunset Center. But first, they bring in a whole bunch of other people to stock this inaugural and free festival at their dance studio in Marina.

“We are aiming to put art at the center of the conversation,” says dance company founder Fran Spector Atkins.

In the visual arts portion, more than 70 ocean-themed paintings, drawings, photographs and digital art from local kids ages 8-21 will be displayed. And of course, there will be dance. SpectorDance Youth Company performs an original work, “Out of the Blue,” accompanied by live music from viola/violin duet Duo Appasionata and the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Middle School Honor Jazz Band.

2-4pm Sunday, April 14, at SpectorDance, Marina. Free. 384-1050, spectordance.org.

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