Archive | May, 2017

Thousands Dancing For Peace on Broadway

21 May
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Dancing Rubies Having Fun

     The mid-Spring heatwave broke just in time for a cool weather day to help the thousands of dancers participating in the 11th annual Dance Parade. Each year the young parade has been gaining more popularity with dancers coming from all over the country and as far as China to celebrate the most ancient of art forms right here in the dance capital of the world, NYC. All kinds of dance forms were on display which makes this parade one of the best in the city. It’s all about dance and the diversity in which it brings. Lots of people on the parade route starting on Broadway and 21st St. stopped to marvel at the costumes and unique moves…whether it’s from the Bolivians colorful costumes or the Caribbean cultures bringing the heat or the house music coalition or Indian Bhangra or the sultry belly dancers… everyone was having fun dancing. The parade helps to raise awareness of some of the most archaic cabaret laws in the city that prohibit three or more people from dancing at a club or bar with a cabaret license, which is almost impossible to obtain. There has been a more enthusiastic push to change the cabaret laws especially with a more receptive mayor in office. With more pressure and common sense, the city can loosen the Prohibition era law and allow people to dance when and where they choose to.

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Capoeira Dancers Going At It

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Bolivian Tinkus Giving It Their All

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Enough Said

 

     This years Dance Parade theme is Dance for Peace and there were plenty of good willed dancers out having a good time starting with Dancers of Universal Peace kicking things off.  Parade revelers were treated to a special guest as Grand Marshall Mestre Joao Grande of Capoeira fame was on the first float.  The 500 year old Afro-Brazilian art form was displayed by two groups that amazed the judges by the Astor Place reviewing stands. The thunderous drum band heard a block away was gaining momentum as Fogo Azul got the crowd worked up for what would be an amazing day of music and dance. Of all the ethnic groups that participate in the parade, the Bolivians bring their best. Their groups are broken up into the high energy indigenous Tinkus, the sequined cowboy/cowgirl costumed Caporales dedicated to San Simon (St. Paul), and the methodical Morenales. They come from all over the country to represent Bolivian dance and culture. As a prelude to the West Indian Parade, two Caribbean groups really got the crowd worked up. If you weren’t dancing by then, you literally have no pulse. Slowing things down somewhat were a sultry group of dancers named Dancing Rubies. They put on a really good show. The international groups were really up to the task of showing off their moves. Groups with ties to Mexico, China, India, Brazil, Spain, and Korea were seen having lots of fun dancing it up. Probably the best thing is how many young kids were at the parade in costume learning their traditional dances. Bravo.

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Dance Royalty Maurice Hines

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Belly Dancers to the Rescue

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Swinging Into Action

 

     Parade revelers were treated to Dance Royalty when Grand Marshall Maurice Hines and his float of young tap dancers arrived to everyone’s delight. At 72, he can out dance most people half his age. A group named Flowers of Hope got the crowd worked up with their belly dancing. They were soon followed by the all female drum band and parade favorite Batala. Another NYC favorite, the Cobras stepped up their game with moves imitating their charismatic band leader. Closing out the parade were the young dance group, XDance showing off their Salsa dance moves. They were real good and their membership keeps growing each year. The after parade festival continued into Tompkins Square Park where stages were set up to instruct students from 5 to 95 on dancing and keep the party going.

 

 

Mexicans Celebrate Cinco on 5th Ave. in Brooklyn

7 May
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Folkloric Dancers

     The overcast day made Cinco de Mayo feel more like Cinco de Marzo. The chilly weather didn’t stop the first Cinco de Mayo parade on 5th Ave. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from marching on. Local neighborhood parades can be just as much fun as the bigger parades in the city. Kicking off the parade were sponsors and local politicians including NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who was vital in organizing the event. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the famous battle in the town of Pueblo where General Ignacio Zaragoza led a small army to repel the invading French troops. Even though it was not a major part of the war, it did gain support and confidence among Mexicans to defend their land.

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Danza de Tecuanes costumer

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Happy Cinco

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Chinelos Dancing It up

 

     Lead groups included parade queens and traditional folkloric dancing with colorful dresses. The first of several costumed groups made their way up the parade route from 60th St. to Sunset Park.  Danza de Tecuanes from San Rafael made their appearance with the traditional costumed jaguar being tricked by farmers. They were pretty good and brought back Mexican agricultural tradition to Sunset Park.  Closing out the parade were the crowd favorite and energetic chinelos.  The crowd gathered for more fun and celebration in Sunset Park.  One of the best things about neighborhood parades is the variety of restaurants available. I had to stop by Tacos Los Poblanos for a quick spicy chicken taco. Well worth it.

Nowruz Brings Many Happy Persians to Madison Ave.

1 May
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Traditional Persian dancers

     Every April, thousands of people from Persian nations and cultures gather on Madison Ave. to celebrate the ancient tradition of Nowruz. The festival is celebrated on the vernal equinox when the Sun crosses the equator into the Northern Hemisphere. This tradition predates Islam and unites all cultures from that world region regardless of country or religion. It is one of the most important holidays and is celebrated with bountiful color, traditional meals and cleansing of the home. It’s very likely where the Spring cleaning tradition comes from. This parade has the most colorful and lively floats of the many parades in NYC. The popping colors represent hope, renewal and rebirth. Aside from the colorful floats, there were also depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster  where the tradition of Nowruz may have been started. At one time Zoroastrianism was one of the powerful world religions. The tradition also coincides with the time of Cyrus the Great, the original creator of the Charter of Human Rights.

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Start of the Parade

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Central Asians in Traditional Attire

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There’s A Party Over Here

 

     As usual, the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. They were soon followed by parade VIPs and energetic dancers getting the crowd worked up for a fun celebration. Usually the traditional characters of Amoo and his sidekick Haji Firuz kick off the parade with presents and revelry but looks like they missed the bus ride in. There was a group of traditional dancers that really got into the spirit of the holiday. It was great to see representatives from Central Asia come and blow their horns. This was the first year a group from Washington DC made their way North to join in the celebration. They did a great job and represented well. But probably having the most fun this  year were the masquerade dancers dressed in black. They really put on a good show for everyone. The parade always closes out with a crowd of students chanting out a happy chorus in unison “Iran”.  One of the best things about the parade is the after party. First, most people get some delicious food from kiosks a block away from the end of the parade route on 24th St. I opted for the traditional soup, Ash Reshteh from the Taste of Persia spot. The party kept on going at Madison Square Park where the spirit of Nowruz was alive and well.

                                                           Wind and rain have gone.
                                                           Lord Nowurz has come.
                                                          Friends, convey this message.
                                                         The New Year has come again
                                                         This spring be your good luck
                                                        The tulip fields be your joy.
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                                  Happy Nowruz……see you next year.

 

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