📣 2023-24 Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Pairs announced

Franchesska Berry is a master of West African and African diaspora dance. and cultural herstory. Apprentice is Nola Taylor. In this photo, Franchesska stands behind Nola and gives her a gentle hug.
Franchesska Berry (left) is a master of West African and African diaspora dance and cultural herstory. Franchesska’s apprentice is Nola Taylor. Photo by Jesse La Mora.

From West African dance to mariachi music, Nooksack language preservation, canoe making, and more, The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is excited to announce the new apprenticeship pairs for the 2023-2024 Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program.  

Created to preserve traditional arts, crafts, or skills, the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program (HAAP) helps carry on cultural traditions important to Washington’s communities. A skilled master artist will mentor their apprentice for at least 100 hours of one-on-one time throughout the program year. Now entering its sixth year, over 100 people have participated in the program. 

“The HAAP program is vital because it really meets traditional artists where they live, and allows them to practice and teach as they want, where they want, and with whom they want,” said Thomas Grant Richardson, director of the Center for Washington Cultural Tradition. “Folklife is about understanding cultural traditions in context, but often arts programing has to decontextualize those traditions to present them elsewhere. The HAAP program allows traditional arts to thrive where they already live.” 

Folk and traditional arts practices are often learned informally in one-on-one settings and many practitioners lack the resources and network to pass on their skills. Because of this, many traditions are at risk of being lost. In addition to both preserving traditional skills and generating income for the practitioners, the program also helps apprentices develop important leadership skills that will help them advocate for their communities.  

Many who have been part of the Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program use their experience to create businesses centered on their traditional products, or better establish themselves as teaching artists or paid performers. But most importantly, folk and traditional artists and practices provide meaningful ways for people to connect with their past, and to build bridges to other communities in the present.  

Program participants may teach or study music, visual art, occupational arts, dance, culinary traditions, storytelling and other verbal arts, and much more. 

Check out information about participants, their traditions, and their progress throughout the year at waculture.org. The Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program will culminate in a free event to introduce the public to these unique cultural traditions, date and time to be announced. 

The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions is managed through a partnership between ArtsWA and Humanities Washington. 

Meet the 15 teams of artists and culture bearers chosen to help preserve traditional skills across Washington State: 

Native Beadwork 

Master: Denise Emerson (Diné/Skokomish), Burien 

Apprentice: Isabella MacKeige, Marysville 

Master beadworker Denise Emerson will teach Native beadworking. Her designs are inspired by historical photos of Native life, as well as modern graphic design influences. 

Bulgarian Folk Dance 

Master: Daniela Nyberg, Silver Lake 

Apprentices: Victoria and Gabriela Lenkov, Kirkland 

This team will study Bulgarian traditional dance in both theory and practice, and learn patterns from different folklore regions. 

Comidas y Tejidos 

Master: Guadalupe Marquez, Wapato 

Apprentice: Ellah Hunter, Yakima 

This project sees artist Guadalupe Marquez passing on traditional Mexican knowledge, aesthetics, and values through food and needlepoint to granddaughter Ellah Hunter. 

Corean (Korean) Traditional Mask Dance: Songpa Sande Nori  

Master: Kevin Okcheon Shim, Federal Way 

Apprentice: Che Sehyun, Seattle 

Songpa Sandae Nori is a traditional art form that has been practiced in Korean for over 300 years, and designated by the Korean government as a National Treasure of Intangible Cultural Value. This pair will study many aspects of this hours-long masked dramatic performance.  

Cowlitz Shovelnose Canoe 

Master: Robert Harju, Toledo 

Apprentice: Danial Harju, Federal Way 

Working in conjunction with Washington State Parks, Robert will carve a shovelnose dugout canoe alongside his son Danial, whom he will teach the techniques and importance of canoe making. The canoe will be displayed at the Silver Lake Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center at Seaquest State Park in Castle Rock.  

West African dance 

Master: Franchesska Berry, Seattle 

Apprentice: Nola Taylor. Seattle 

Master artist Franchesska Berry will teach dances of West Africa, combining them with cultural and stylistic elements of ballet, modern, jazz, and improvisational dance. 

Danza Azteca-Chichimeca 

Master Esmael Lopez, Yakima 

Apprentice Ema Guzman, Yakima 

Danza Azteca-Chichimeca is one of the biggest driving forces of Mexican Indigenous heritage and culture. Danza Ceatl Tonalli is a traditional dance group with roots in Mexico and branches across Washington State.  

Divine Geometrical Arts of the Muslim World 

Master: Mohsen Hourmanesh, Kelseyville, CA 

Apprentice: Azadeh Weber, Spokane 

This project focuses on drawing girih, divine geometrical patterns from the Muslim world which emphasize the golden/divine ratio (PHI). Master Mohsen Hourmanesh with work with his daughter, Azadeh Weber, to teach hand-drawn techniques and how to incorporate these designs into a digital software program for 3D-printed jewelry. 

Iu-Mien Cultural Dance Apprenticeship Program 

Master: Koihinh “Tracee” Saelee, Auburn 

Apprentices: Audrey Saechao, Auburn, and Nathaly Ying Saelee, Normandy Park 

Master artist Koihinh “Tracee” Saelee will teach traditional Iu-Mien cultural dances to young Iu-Mien children and teenagers with the hope of instilling ethnic/cultural pride and improved connections with both Iu-Mien and non-Iu Mien communities. 

Mariachi Estrellas del Valle de Parque Padrinos 

Master: Daniel Cedeno, Wenatchee 

Apprentice: Yajayra Ramirez, Wenatchee 

Mariachi music has a deep significance in the Hispanic culture, and master Daniel Cedeno will teach the art form in the hope that the younger generation will understand and appreciate this aspect of their heritage. 

Lhéchalosem (Nooksack language)  

Master: George Adams, Bellingham 

Apprentice: Joseph Olsen, Everson 

Tribal elder and fluent speaker George Adams will work with apprentice and nephew Joseph Olsen to learn Lhéchalosem through an immersive experience. Most Coast Salish languages are in peril of being lost due to colonization and cultural erasure. Language retention is key to Native cultural sovereignty, health, and identity.  

Reviving the Art of Bustle Making 

Master: Leon/Waptášwaluk Thompson, Toppenish 

Apprentice: Mersaedy Atkins, Toppenish 

Master Leon/Waptášwaluk Thompson will be making Fancy Dance bustles—an important part of many Indigenous dance traditions—as well as teaching song, dance, histories, and language to apprentice Mersaedy Atkins. 

African Dance 

Afua Kouyate, Seattle 

Nailah Bulley, Bremerton 

In this intense study of traditional and authentic West African Dance and its folkloric preservation, Nailah Bulley, a dancer of hip hop, jazz, and ballet since the age of two, will learn from her mother, master African dancer Afua Kouyate. 

Tahitian and Polynesian Culture Through Music and Dance 

Master Symphorien A “Tapo” Aroquiame, Federal Way 

Apprentices: Keilah Fanene, Seattle, and Nicolas Bajnoczy, Puyallup 

Master Symphorien A “Tapo” Aroquiame will teach Tahitian/Polynesian dance, drumming, ukulele, and guitar. 

Yiddish Music as a Roots Music of American Immigration 

Master Jimmy Austin, Seattle 

Apprentice Tate Linden, Seattle 

Master Jimmy Austin and apprentice Tate Linden of Seattle will focus on the traditional klezmer instrumental music often played for weddings and other gatherings. This will be done alongside extensive study of its cultural and historical context, including learning about various categories of Yiddish song, dance forms, social movements, theater, and Jewish-American immigration. 

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