After a week of cloudy raw days the sun broke out for a summer like day of dancing and music and lots of fun by the dancers and viewers alike. Rachel and I made our way from the 6th Ave. food festival over to 21 st. and Broadway where the preparade buzz was kicking higher than the Rockettes during the holidays. The 5th annual Dance Parade was getting ready to step out onto Broadway and just as stage performers get pumped up to put on a show the energy level was intense everywhere you looked. Only in the greatest city in the world can such a diverse display of culture come together in honor of one of the threads that binds humanity in the art form of dance expression. And right now, there’s one organization that can pull off the event. While all the organizers were in the zone preparing for the event, Rachel met with Karen Kriegel from the World Dance Initiative while I talked with Jose Rivera of the group Ayazamana. Jose explained the dance the group would perform is the San Juanito, a folkloric dance of celebration in Ecuador. Colorful costumes were plentiful. Rachel was having a field day taking some great photos but before we knew it parade organizers were calling groups to line up in order as the parade was ready to kick off.
After the Dance Parade banner was proudly displayed by staff members, the first dance company appeared. The Yosokoi Dance Project displayed an unwavering spirit of happiness and hope in the wake of tragic loss of life in Japan due to the earthquake and tsunami in March. The group helped pass the tradition to the youngest performer that was easily a crowd pleaser. The next notable group was Manhattan Tribal with leader Mimi Fontana. The group spoke the universal language of body talk through hand and body with a captivating appeal that you just didn’t want to end. NYC Bhangra displayed a great rendition of bhangra and bollywood style dances. Without doubt some of the most colorful costumes had to be from the Bolivian Tinkus and San Simon Caporales. Their energetic dance helps preserve Bolivian folklore. Ayazamana made their appearance with an energetic San Juanito dance. Closing out the ethnic and cultural representation were the Bomba and Plena of Puerto Rico and Elea Gorana Dance with children doing traditional Bulgarian dances that pleased the crowd.
The next group of dancers were a combination of fine dance schools from modern to ballet to hip hop to jazz and ballroom to salsa and samba and roller disco and hustle. Many standout dancer groups were Dance New Amsterdam, Neville Dance Theatre, Brasileirando, New York Chicago Style Steppers, 5 Rhythms, Broadway Bodies, NY Hustle Flash Mob, Dance Manhattan, Fully Focused Dance Troupe and the amazing Body & Pole/Pole Riders making jawdropping splits. A parade just isnt a parade without a marching band and there were two that could have had a good battle. The amazing Kansas City Marching Falcons Drill team brought their A game in dance and instruments. Not to be outdone was the local Medgar Evers College Prep Marching Band with a loud and proud brass section. One group of lovely ladies that became a crowd favorite were the roller disco Sisters in Motion in their snazzy turquoise outfits. Shortly behind them was the outdoor rapture party dancing to house music. Hundreds of dancers partied like it was their last day. All kinds of outrageous costumes and floats including the magic toad, a crazy disco float and the Pacha float that closed out the parade as everyone danced over to Tompkins Square Park with their hands raised in the air.
On our way to the park for the DanceFest, a few buses were parked just outside the park on 10th St. Rachel and I noticed the bus had its luggage compartment open and resting were some of the Bolivian dancers drenched in sweat. They gave it their all and left it on the parade route as did most of the dancers. The DanceFest showcases some great dance talent on three stages throughout the park. Free dance lessons were offered to anyone that wanted to pick up a new step or two. Rachel and I agreed the parade had an uplifting and joyful feel to it and in some ways was a combination of the Mermaid and West Indian parades. We certainly hope this young and one of a kind parade becomes as popular as those city favorites. Congrats DanceParade… Job well done.
Turkish Parade Saturday May 28th Madison Ave and 51th st. at 11am.
Haitian Parade- Sunday May 29th Nostrand Ave and Linden Aves Brooklyn at 11am
Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade - Monday May 30th Northern Blvd and Jayson St, Great Neck Queens 2pm