MoToR/Dance Water In The Kettle

Following the sold-out success of the February, 2023 premiere, WATER IN THE KETTLE was restaged twice in the 23-24 season, along with the release of an edited  FILM from the live show. Audiences enjoyed two pop-up performances at Manny’s in the Mission, San Francisco November 2023, and two more sold-out shows back at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, February 2024, leading to the annual International Day of Body Music – always the first Sunday in February. We look forward to any further opportunities to present this groundbreaking piece, and are returning to the studio to create new work.

Missed the live show?

from Dean Bosche/Outdoor Film

A dynamic, exciting work for…an unbelievable ensemble.
– Joanna Harris, Bay Area Stringer

All evening new sounds and rhythms are introduced, our bodies a seemingly endless source of possibilities in the hands of Ladin and her collaborators. – Jen Norris, Dance Reviews

The performers demonstrate a virtuosic command of the interplay between physicality, rhythm, and musicality to poke, prod, interrogate, and propose perspectives on what it means to be a woman—often with a delightful dose of dry humor
– Molly Rose-Williams, Life As A Modern Dancer

Water in the Kettle premiered February 2023 with three Sold Out shows and and an added Preview. Response was so overwhelmingly positive, we re-staged the show twice in the 23-24 season. Although the show was built into the space at Rhythmix Cultural Works, using the floor and stage, bringing the audience close on three sides, offers to produce the show elsewhere are welcome. After five years of development, before and during lockdown, the strong cast of twelve working women are ready to roll. 

MoToR/dance is Evie Ladin, Valerie Gutwirth, Keira Armstrong, Tammy Chang, Kristen DeAmicis, Heather Arnett and Sydney Lozier. With JJ Hansen, Cynthia Mah and Linda Carr; and musicians Amber Hines (Percussion) and Lisa Berman (Banjo, Dobro).

Water in the Kettle examines the promise and failures of equality, for grown women and for our country, in an intimate evening of story, dance, music and community. 

Put some water on, we have a lot to discuss.    

Layering rhythmic systems in hands, feet and body, adding three+part harmonies, MoToR/dance illustrates a collective consciousness. From self-directed hum to blaring sarcasm, MoToR/dance tells choreographed stories with emotional impact. 

 Photo/Video: Dean Bosche/Outdoor Film

rehearsal pics - lisa berman

Credit Lisa Berman

About Evie ladin

Evie Ladin is a percussive-dancer, choreographer, singer, songwriter, banjo player and square-dance caller with a lifetime of experience in traditional American cultural arts and intercultural music/dance performance and education.
Based in Oakland, CA, Evie grew up in a traditional folk scene on the East Coast of the US, and early on was drawn to other cultures where music and dance are an integral part of social communication. Her performances, recordings and teaching reconnect Appalachian arts with other African-Diaspora traditions, in the American folk music world, the international Body Music and percussive dance communities, and at all levels of education.
Evie graduated from Brown University (BA: African Studies In Dance), and received both Fulbright and Watson Fellowships, studying music/dance in Eastern Nigeria.  For 8 years, she toured concert halls and festivals nationally with the music/dance ensemble Rhythm In Shoes. Since landing in California in 2000, Evie has choreographed numerous works with partner Keith Terry and his intercultural, rhythm-based Crosspulse ensembles, performing from Lincoln Center, NY to SFJAZZ, Brazil to Bali and many points in between.
Evie is Executive Director of the International Body Music Festival, directs the moving choir MoToR/dance, and is an ace freestyle flatfooter. She teaches banjo at the Freight & Salvage, online to over 350 students at Peghead Nation; calls and plays for square dances; has won contest ribbons and writes clever, poignant songs. Touring solo, with Keith Terry, and her Evie Ladin Band she has a hefty discography.  A truly entertaining performer, Evie enjoys facilitating arts learning in diverse communities. She is a 2020-21 Jubilation Fellow, awarded to those who facilitate music and rhythmic learning.         


Under the Artistic Direction of Evie Ladin, the all-female MoToR/dance creates powerful interlocking percussive dance arrangements with layered vocal harmonies and large group choreography, in a moving choir. Creating emotionally in-depth works, MoToR/dance pushes the envelope in Body Music and Contemporary Dance.

The work is challenging physically and intellectually, on precision and expression, breath control, tone, musicality. Company members and audience remark that the work is singular in its visceral power and integration of systems, exceptional in drawing audiences into shared human experience. MoToR/dance pieces overtly reunite African diaspora polyrhythms with Appalachian/American traditional song (the basis of Ladin’s training); conflating the cultural miscegenation of Black, Brown and White in foundational American music/dance with the painful reality of its origin.

MoToR/dance has debuted three works, live and as films: Ain’t No Grave (2015), The Storm (2018), whose release immediately garnered 13,000 views and 250+ shares around the world, and DRUMSET, a 2020 backlash from having to shut down development of Water in the Kettle, inspired by the rage in Fiona Apple’s song, and the anxiety of the impending presidential election that Fall. 

All filmed works have been featured at several dance film festivals – San Francisco, Boulder, WO50FF in the UK and Durham at the American Dance Festival Movies by Movers. Live Appearances include: World Premier at Rhythmix Cultural Center, International Body Music Festival, 8x8x8 Choreographers Showcase, Albany Bulb Dance Festival, and Trolley Dances.


Heather Arnett has choreographed and presented solos in the Bay Area since 2010 and performed with Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Epiphany Dance Theater and Kristin Damrow & Co and more. Her dance film Parting Soles was selected for 2017 Tiny Dance Film Festival and Austin Spotlight Film Festival. Heather is the founder and Artistic Director of Cat Call Choir, female-identified performers who create live satirical performances about gendered violence.

JJ (Johnine) Hansen is a singer, pianist, and choir instructor based in Berkeley, CA where  she teaches general, instrumental and choral music for Berkeley Unified School District. A Music Educator in the Bay Area for over 25 years, JJ’s specialty is using music from the rich heritage of Black people in the US to teach key musical building blocks to young learners (culturally responsive teaching). She created and served as the central performer in a show detailing the history of gospel music in the United States, and facilitates Music Professional Development retreats at the corporate level. JJ was born in Louisiana and was raised in North Carolina before moving to the Bay Area as a teenager.

Keira Armstrong comes to MoTor with a background in ballet, modern and folk dance, social and family music and singing, and rhythm based athletics. She appreciates the opportunity to break free of a computer-based day job to create, play and learn in community. 

Kristen DeAmicis holds a BFA in Modern Dance & Dance Ethnography from the University of Michigan. Performing & teaching professionally in the Bay Area for 10 years with Wan-Chao Dance, Ballet Afsaneh, The Zaryab Ensemble, and Kavanah Dance, she was also Admin Assistant for Project Bandaloop and created the outdoor site specific/responsive Dancing Off The Beaten Path. She has experience in study/performance of dance/percussion/singing in Cuba, Ghana, India, and Tajikistan, as well as classical violin training.

Sydney Lozier is a dancer, teacher, and producer – running the gamut from site-specific to showgirl.   She began her professional performance career at the University of San Francisco, receiving a BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice.  Sydney earned her ME from USF while performing with Eli Nelson, the Hollywood It Girls, the Sand Dance Project, and 13th Floor Theater, amongst others.  She’s grateful for her inaugural work with MoToR Dance, and the opportunity to collaborate with a troupe filled with smart, compassionate, creative people.

Tammy Chang is a functional nutrition coach and founder of The Nourished Belly. She teaches capoeira in one of the few women led schools, Capoeira Brasil East Bay, and general fitness around the Bay Area.   She is based in Oakland. 

Valerie Gutwirth dances, writes about dance, practices and teaches yoga, and plays and performs body music in the San Francisco Bay Area. After 23 years teaching dance to elementary school children in Berkeley, Valerie now teaches the Dance Teaching Methods course at CSU East Bay, and a Dance for Children course to undergrads at San Jose State. 

A native Bay Area multi-instrumentalist, playing music for the pure joy of it, Cynthia Mah has performed at Yoshi’s, Freight & Salvage, The California Jazz Conservatory, de Young Museum and Ashkenaz in genres as diverse as big band jazz, R&B, Brazilian choro, harmonica ensemble and body music.   She is currently a member of several bands including Melba’s Kitchen, Raw Sugar, Cal Alumni Big Band and Tin Sandwich.

Linda Carr has been running the Modern Dance program at Berkeley High School since 2000. Ruth Zaporah, Joe Goode, Contact Improvisation, Etiquette Physical Theater and her many, many students are all welcomed influences. She met Evie back in the 90’s and was soon following her up University Avenue banging sticks and singing songs as part of MoToR’s inaugural performance at the How Berkeley Can You Be Parade.

Lisa Berman is a versatile roots musician on Dobro, Hawaiian slide, clawhammer banjo, guitar and vocals. She was a member for 13 years of the old-time stringband Stairwell Sisters with Evie Ladin, and continues to play with The Crooked Jades for over twenty years. Lisa has collaborated with ODC and Kate Weare Dance Company on three projects: ”Bright Land,” “World’s On Fire,” and “Decameron”, performing at The Joyce Theater in New York, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and ODC in San Francisco. She is also an accomplished  graphic designer/art director/photographer, designing posters and CDs for musicians, and books.

Musician, dancer, counselor and teacher, Amber Hines is a Bay Area native.  Amber has studied the dance and music of West and North Africa, Cuba and Brazil.  She is deeply inspired by early African-American and continental African music.  These songs of hope, freedom of expression, and strength of spirit influence the curriculum she brings to her East Bay music community.  She specializes in early childhood music and teaches classes at pre-schools and elementary schools.