Florangela Davila

Lead Artscape Reporter

Florangela Davila  has been a journalist since 1992. For 14 years she worked at The Seattle Times where she covered both news and features. She's been freelancing for KPLU since 2008, reporting and producing as well as helping coordinate the station's "Looking Back to Look Forward" documentary project. She's also a lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Florangela received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and her Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. She's been both an arts consumer and an arts practitioner for as long as she can remember.

Courtesy of "Cavalia"

There’s a village of white tents that look like a castle rising from Redmond’s Marymoor Park. It's home to both arena and stables for dozens of horses, the stars of "Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Man And Horse," which has been billed as "equestrian ballet."

Created in part by one of the people behind Cirque du Soleil, the show is a spectacle featuring acrobats, aerialists, musicians and, of course, riders. But these are riders who do stunts like ride standing up (picture "watersking" on a pair of horses galloping in a circle) or riding while doing the splits.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

The latest play at Seattle Repertory Theatre is called "How To Write A New Book For The Bible." It's about a priest who comes home to take care of his dying mother.

It’s a true story, written by Jesuit priest and playwright Bill Cain.

Which partly explains the play's title. Cain says the play "is about sifting through the presence of God in the reality of family."

"I wonder what Bing (Crosby) would think about this film. He was a pretty hep cat so he might dig it."

Thirty years ago, Spokane was home to a small, passionate group of punk rockers. Artist David Halsell was part of that scene. (Studded leather jacket. Mohawk. Member of a band that threw up on people).

Now he and several other ex-punk rockers have made a documentary based on interviews with 30 musicians about that alternative music scene in their hometown.

The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C., has all the features you’d expect to find in a fancy hotel: luxurious accommodations, fine dining and a spa.

But the city's landmark hotel also has its very own "artist-in-residence." She's painter Judy McLaren, who typically paints commissioned portraits, scenes of the sea as well as landscapes.

Photo by Robert Wade

The newest show at the Seattle Art Museum features thousands of records, a DJ booth made out of an old church pew and a hands-on record player.

The installation is called "The Listening Room" and it's the latest work by Theaster Gates.

Florangela Davila

Forget about sugarplums dancing in his head. Architect Eric Drivdahl is drooling over cookie staircases, pretzel fences and a giant Rice Crispy treat mountain covered in 100 pounds of white chocolate.

"Look at this whole building, it's made out of candy," he says.

He's in the lobby of the Seattle Sheraton hotel, the site of the annual Gingerbread Village. This year's theme is "Holiday Express," with all six gingerbread marvels replicating world-famous train stations.

Photo by Christopher Duggan

Here’s what a performance by  zoe|juniper won't look like:

"Predictable and controlled," says company dancer Christiana Axelsen.

"Having the music play. Having everyone dance. Having the lights go on and then having the lights go out," says sound designer Matt Starritt.

"I wouldn’t expect it to be simple. I wouldn’t expect to see anything I’ve seen before," says dancer and company manager Raja Kelly.

Critics have described the Seattle-based company as "visually arresting" and "a feast for the senses."

Gerwin Sturm/Flickr

"You're in a dark room you've never been in before. And it's very late at night."

Larry Albert is casting a spell. Cue up the sound of a creaking building and suddenly, you're transported to a slightly terrifying place.

Albert is one of the behind-the-scenes talents of Jim French's "Imagination Theater," which produces old-time radio dramas.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Last night’s crowd at Seattle Repertory Theatre was anything but ordinary at a first-of-its kind, tail-wagging cultural event.

There was the "welcome" message, for example, as the audience arrived at the theater doors.

"We have a little pee patch there in case your doggie should desire to go to the bathroom," said an usher to patrons filing in.

Yes, a “pee” patch. Treats and plenty of head rubs were also on hand for 100 dogs attending the theater with their humans in tow.

Photo by Alan Abastro

It used to be that aspiring opera singers would live with their voice teachers and practice every day. That was in the 1800s.

Nowadays, the typical track is college followed by graduate school and then professional training at a major opera company.  That’s where Seattle Opera and its Young Artists Program come in.

photo by Ed Lee

Long before “grunge,” Seattle was home to big band musicians, immigrant choral groups and a seafood restaurant owner who sang folk songs about clams.

Those are only some of the stories  in Kurt Armbruster's new book, "Before Seattle Rocked: A City and Its Music" (University of Washington Press).

Photo by Steve Korn

The year 1994 might not seem that long ago to you. But in the world of modern dance, it's ancient history.

Or at least history, the year in which Bebe Miller choreographed her funky, athletic "Cantos Gordos."

From the Paul G. Allen Family Collection. Photo by Brady Harvey

What is it about horror films that makes our skin crawl?

EMP Museum's new  "Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film" exhibit dissects the horror flick, ripping apart the hair-raising soundtrack and giving us an up-close view of various movie props: from the gory to the just plain eerie.

Photo by Angela Sterling

Stephen Manes has been a TV writer, a children's author and a personal technology columnist for national publications. He's also co-authored a book about Bill Gates.

But he was a total outsider when it came to ballet.

He'd been a patron of Seattle's Pacific Northwest Ballet. But it wasn't until a behind-the-scenes tour of the company for donors got him thinking: How much do pointe shoes cost? What's it take to mount a season? What's it like to be an artistic director, a dancer, a dance student, a stager, a costumer or a member of the orchestra?

Scott Maddock

Twenty years ago, a group of like-minded theater folk felt there was something missing in Seattle. There wasn't a lab where actors could take classes and try out new things.

"In New York, people work all the time," says Robin Lynn Smith. "In Los Angeles, you study when you’re not working. Here we wanted to have an opportunity for people to have that option to keep challenging themselves to go further. And then for creating work, we needed a place for experimentation."

Photo by Florangela Davila

What if your neighbors turned their house into a public art gallery?

That’s what a few artists are doing in Seattle. There's a house in Ravenna, a house in the Central Area and a studio on Capitol Hill that are all transformed into temporary art venues for an art-craving public.

In Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, Alex Lopez has carved out a reputation as the go-to-guy for making unique piñatas.

Case in point: a 26-foot-long, 7-feet-tall, 6-feet-wide pinata in the shape of a bridge. It dumped 450 pounds of candy.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

A busy street with lots of cars, bikes and people rushing from one place to another. Except for that one person over there with a camera ... and that one over there.

They're students with Seattle's Youth in Focus (YIF) program who are documenting the area around Second Avenue and Cherry in downtown Seattle.

Courtesy of Seattle Opera

You don't expect to find a banjo in the orchestra pit at Seattle Opera. But there it is, getting warmed up by John Patrick Lowrie, a half-hour before showtime for "Porgy and Bess."

From the first day of rehearsal, Lowrie made an impression upon the orchestra.


When "West Side Story" opened in 1957 on Broadway, the audience's reaction was silence. Followed by applause.

"No Broadway musical ended with these deaths and this very sad young woman walking off the stage with her head bowed. That was just, 'Whoa!'" author Misha Berson explained.

Photo by Florangela Davila

What inspires bands to make music? For Recess Monkey, it’s the lives of kindergarteners and grade schoolers.

All three musicians – Drew Holloway, Jack Forman and Daron Henry – in the band teach at Seattle elementary schools. And they're having anything but a sleepy summer: playing gigs and promoting their latest CD, "Flying" is on their agenda.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Seattle’s Occidental Park is a leafy oasis in the middle of the city. It’s now also the site of a whimsical installation where all 27 trees and 16 lamp posts and 57 short poles are dressed up in yarn.

Photo by Chris Bennion

Seattle playwright Yussef El Guindi usually delves into heavy stuff: racial profiling and terrorism.

But his new play, "Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World," which is having its world premiere at Seattle's ACT Theatre, is a romantic comedy.

Musa is an Egyptian immigrant who picks up a woman named Sheri in his cab on a late night in New York City.

Photo by Florangela Davila

There's a downside to hanging out at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) and that is, you start to feel really boring.

There's Nickolai Pirak, an expert juggler. And Erica Rubinstein, who basically juggles people.

"If you can imagine a 12-foot-long bar that’s kind of like a beam and a trampoline, but supported by people. Our flier stands in the middle of the bar," Rubinstein says.

Florangela Davila

If you’re crazy about films, then this is the time of year when you’re over the moon. Over 25 days, the Seattle International Film Festival shows 450 movies at 20 venues in and around Seattle.
Among the ordinary festival-goer is a special type of film fan: those who don’t sleep, mow the lawn, or spend time with friends or family unless they’re with them at the movies.

These are the approximately 400 folks who have a full series pass, who may see around 100 films or so per festival.

A few tips if you wish to be this die-hard:

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Throughout Seattle, on any given night, you can find some place hosting karaoke, which means “empty orchestra” in Japanese.

There’s karaoke in friendly community halls in Greenwood; in swanky clubs on Capitol Hill; in private rooms underneath cutesy bubble tea houses in the I-D.

Courtsey of Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

If we relied on Hollywood, we’d get a very limited view of African Americans. 

"There’s three models that we have of black people in Hollywood and none of them are any good. The ho, the gangster, the victim. And occasionally you get the saint."

That's Jacqueline Moscou, artistic director of Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. And what she's talking about are films like "Booty Call,"The Book of Eli" and "Precious."

Photo by Bob Cerelli

Each winter and spring, the Paramount Theatre in Seattle hosts a silent movie series on Monday nights.
This month’s classic films showcase New York City and it also features one of Buster Keaton’s best works.

But the star attraction isn’t what’s on screen. It’s the instrument making the music.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Some of Washington’s toughest kids, at the toughest moments in their lives, are locked-up at the only state-run children's psychiatric hospital. They spend their time as residents, patients and students. And on occasion, they also get to be poets, working with the non-profit Pongo Teen Writing Workshop.

The weekly writing workshop unfolds in an ordinary classroom: five kids paired up with five adult mentors.

The mentors ask questions: How are you feeling? What's on your mind? They type up the answers and then flesh them into verse.

Photo by Barbara Kinney

What's the new show at the Seattle Art Museum look like? Think Chewbacca painted neon yellow and bubblegum pink, without any eyes in a cone-shaped head.

There's a tiger-masked creature with a huge cage surrounding his body. The cage is made up of ceramic birds.

There's a jumpsuit stitched from hundreds of Beanie Babies. And suits that look like astronauts made entirely of mother-of-pearl buttons.

There are more than 50 otherworldy, jaw-dropping creations featured in the exhibit, "Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth."

The show is the first museum tour for the Chicago-based artist (not to be confused with that other Nick Cave). It's a riot of texture and pattern that can be experienced in two major ways.