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Island City Waterways Brings Alameda History to Life

Tickets still available for many of this weekend’s free performances.

On May 21-22, Rhythmix Cultural Works, in partnership with the City of Alameda, presents Island City Waterways: Uprooted, the third in a series of roving art events bringing Alameda history to life through music, dance, theater, and storytelling.

Alameda Post - Island City Waterways: Uprooted
Island City Waterways: Uprooted is a popular, roving art event that celebrates the history of Alameda’s unique waterfront. Four performances each day, May 20 and 21 at 10 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:15 p.m.RSVP now!

Uprooted refers to the young draftees, itinerant military families and workers who pulled up roots to follow the war industry, and those who suffered the fallout of fear and political targeting. The performance tells the story of Alameda Point, from the rise of civilian flight to a Naval Air Station (NAS) that staged four wars to a community repurposing land to fulfill its promising future.

Thirty-five actors, dancers, and musicians, including Akira Tana Trio, Maze Daiko, ODC/Dance, and 13th Floor, will lead audiences on a stroll around Alameda Point’s West Mall Square. Through a 75-minute immersive performance, the audience will journey from peace times through World War II and into the present.

Along the way, audiences will attend a 1930s air race of pilots from the early days of aviation, participate in a swing dance lesson, and visit boot camp and a Japanese internment camp. The finale honors the human spirit’s resilience with the entire cast of performers, including nine taiko drummers.

Alameda Post - 13th Floor
13th Floor performs at Island City Waterways. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

History Brought to Life

For its part of the program, ODC/Dance has drawn upon letters belonging to ODC Associate Choreographer Kimi Okada. In 1942, following Executive Order 9066 ordering the incarceration of Japanese Americans, the federal government sent Okada’s parents to Camp Walerga, a holding camp outside of Sacramento, before relocating them to Tule Lake in the eastern Sierras. They had been married only two weeks at the time of the order.

While in confinement, Okada’s mother, May, saved onionskin carbon copies of her letters. Her detailed observations and descriptions of daily life provide a window into an infamous period of history.

Alameda Post - ODC/Dance performs at Island City Waterways
ODC/Dance performs at Island City Waterways: Uprooted. Photo Andy Mogg.

“My mother’s letters from camp express a dry wit and appreciation for life that reveals an ability to endure the indignities of the internment camps both physically and spiritually,” said Okada. “Her letters surface the timely issue of how we cope with the injustices of racism and the confines of imprisonment. While the piece explores the question of how one responds to a national betrayal, it is ultimately about the power of community that allows each person to find a path to resilience.”

Island City Waterways is a partnership between Rhythmix Cultural Works and the City of Alameda Community Development Department and Public Art Commission in conjunction with artistic partner, ODC/Dance, and community partners: Alameda Unified School District, Alameda Point Collaborative, the Downtown Business Association, West Alameda Business Association (WABA) and local developer, srmErnst.

Selections from the dress rehearsal performance of Island City Waterways: Uprooted at Alameda Point on May 20, 2022 include performances by 13th Floor and Maze Daiko. Video by Adam Gillitt.

What to Know Before You Go

The performance requires audience members to walk or stand for 75 minutes without shade. While most areas are ADA accessible, one short portion travels over uneven ground. Dress for windy or sunny weather and bring bottled water. If you cannot walk or stand for 75 minutes, bring a wheelchair, folding chair, cane, or other assistive devices. Due to large crowds and loud, banging noises, dogs are not allowed (service animals excluded).

Four performances occur daily on Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22, at 10 am, 11:45 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:15 pm. Tickets are free but require a reservation. ASL interpretation is provided at all Sunday shows. Tickets are available here.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at and

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