FirstWorks Festival

Summary Info Festival Story Not AvailableFestival EventsOther SourcesPractical Info Not Available

Country and Region United StatesRhode Island
Type of Festival Dance, Drama, Music
Location of Festival Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Festival Contact Information

270 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903 USA
Phone: (01) 401-421-4278

Festival Description

First Works' mission is dedicated to connecting world-class artists with underserved youth. Launched in 2004, FirstWorks Festival that FirstWorks organizes serves as a point of collaboration and exploration, and connects local artists with national talent. The FirstWorks Festival gives local artists the exposure and experience necessary to take their art beyond Providence.

Festival Dates September 29, 2012
Festival Links

Festival Events:

Highlighted performances 2012:
  • Bandaloop
    (Oakland, CA) “Bound(less)” excerpts
    • Bandaloop turns gravity sideways 30-stories above Greater Kennedy Plaza in a jaw-dropping nighttime spectacle! Under the artistic direction of Amelia Rudolph, these dance pioneers perform dynamic, unforgettable, elegant choreography as they fly and spin through the air, mesmerizing audiences below. Their exhilarating site-reactive performances have been staged from the cliffs of Yosemite National Park to the Seattle Space Needle. Bandaloop joins FirstWorks for 5 days to share its mix of dance and climbing that celebrates community and the environment. With original music composed by Dana Leong, excerpts from “Bound(less)” explore the paradox of how, when bound to each other, we are free to soar as individuals.
  • Squonk Opera
    (Pittsburgh, PA) “GO Roadshow”
    • Expect masterly mayhem in Squonk’s newest musical street spectacle on wheels. The six-piece art-rock band/performance troupe rolls into Kennedy Plaza with a retrofitted 13-ton, 38-foot long flatbed truck as a two-story tall stage, complete with lights, sound system and the far-out mechanical props. A carnivalesque, 45-minute cavalcade of spinning instruments and melodic bombast — plus a blimp with a face and working jaw. Squonk’s fast, funny, “Debussy meets Godzilla” performances have played on 3 continents and in over 25 states.
  • Spanish Harlem Orchestra
    (New York City)
    • New York style and sophistication meet Afro-Caribbean rhythm and passion with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra—the musical embodiment of the steamy, culturally rich neighborhood of Spanish Harlem comes to Downtown Providence! Directed by world-renowned pianist, arranger and producer Oscar Hernández, this explosive 13-member, Grammy award-winning ensemble has reintroduced the classic sounds of New York City salsa to music lovers worldwide. You’ll literally be dancing in the streets to the irresistible rhythms of salsa!
  • Red Baraat
    (Brooklyn, NY)
    • These days, you are as likely to find Red Baraat throwing down at an overheated warehouse party in their Brooklyn neighborhood as you are at Lincoln Center—or, the Montreal Jazz Festival. Red Baraat is a bhangra funk, dhol‘n’brass band that hails from Brooklyn by way of India. The 9-piece ensemble melds the infectious North Indian rhythm, bhangra, with a host of sounds—funk, go-go, Latin, and jazz—leading an audience as joyous and diverse as the band itself.
  • Nan Jombang
    (Padang, Indonesia)
    • Imagine yourself transported to the middle of a Nan Jombang’s lush tropical landscape, at the center of some serious cultural evolution in the heart of Kennedy Plaza. The island of Sumatra is home to Nan Jombang, artists whose work is a compelling mix of martial arts, folk theater, and body percussion traditions of their matrilineal culture, with fiery grace and striking clarity. The dancers of Indonesia’s leading contemporary dance company “practice the 14th century old martial arts, Silat, every day. They train until their feet bleed, developing extraordinary physical control.” Breathtaking and beautiful, bodies become lithe musical instruments, and motion expresses complex bursts of history and longing.
  • Zili Misik
    (Boston, MA)
    • Joyful, boisterous—the seven “rhythm queens” of Zili Misik perform a tapestry of African-descended musical forms rooted in spirituals, blues, jazz, neo-soul, Afro-Cuban “son”, reggae, roots, Afro-Brazilian samba and Haitian “mizik rasin”. From its pan-global palette to its rallying cry for social justice, the band offers a feast for the senses. Named for “Ezili”, the mother, lover and goddess-warrior of Haitian Vodun tradition, Zili’s lyrics glide seamlessly from English to Kreyol to Portuguese to Spanish, spinning tales and visions of lives lived and yet to be.
  • Papermoon Puppet Theatre
    (Yogayakarta, Indonesia)
    • In a country with world-renowned puppetry traditions, the young, expert artists of Papermoon are extending the form with their mixed-media productions, creating works that imaginatively explore identity, society and Indonesia’s recent past. Using Japanese wagon puppetry, Papermoon will mingle with festival-goers for spontaneous encounters with puppeteers who draw on the hip, youthful vibe of Indonesia’s preeminent hotspot.
  • These thrilling guest artists join local favorites to include
    • Rhode Island Philharmonic
    • Waterfire (full lighting)
    • Festival Ballet
    • Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Programs
    • and more to be announced!
  • Papermoon Puppet Theatre
    (Yogayakarta, Indonesia) “Mwathirika”
    • Indonesia’s Papermoon Puppet Theatre has transformed the world of puppetry the way graphic novels have changed comics: taking a popular form too often dismissed as child’s play and making it intellectually challenging, emotionally chilling, and visually bold. (Think “Maus”, not Muppets.) Drawing on the hip, youthful vibe of Indonesia’s preeminent hotspot, Yogakarta, the company uses the whimsy and seeming innocence of beautiful, simple puppets to create multimedia performances that spark dialogue amongst audience members and artists. “Mwathirika” is set in 1965, the infamous “Year of Living Dangerously” when thousands of Indonesians were jailed and murdered. A history of the lost, and the lost history of a nation. A non-verbal, puppet-theater experience in 60 minutes.
      Note: Adult Themes - Parental Discretion Is Advised


Other Sources:

Podcast interviews:
Articles and Reviews:
  • Jones dance company to cap FirstWorksProv arts festival, by Bryan Rouke (The Providence Journal, November 1, 2007)


Do you have an update or more information about this festival? Email us at
Start or join a conversation about this festival in the Forum.