Dancing In the Streets

The dancers of New York City were called and they answered with great force.  The fourth annual New York Dance Parade was held May 22nd and was a great kick off to the unofficial start of summer.  Over 160 organizations and 6500 dancers joined together to revel in streets of the Lower East Side for one major mash-up of expression. 

Parade goers were entertained by over 60 different styles of dance which included swing, ballet, contemporary, Brazilian Zouk and belly dancing.  Everyone knows that Manhattan is an exquisite tapestry of different cultures.  But New York City is also the birthplace of Hip Hop and House music and the dance styles that are associated with it.  Both Hip Hop and House performers participated in this parade.

Starting at East 21st Street, the dancers partied their way down Broadway, past St. Marks Place and down to Tompkins Square Park where a post parade dance festival was held.  On the main stage performers dazzled the crowd again with diverse styles of traditional and contemporary dance.  House music icon Jellybean Benetiz, one of the four grand marshals for the parade, served the crowd with a set of sizzling, soulful House music as people moved their arms, legs, hips and feet in celebration of a day that is all about individual expression.

Dance Parade Inc. is a non-profit organization.  According to their website, their mission is to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly city-wide dance parade and festival.  The sponsors for this year included Fela! The Musical, Pacha NYC, Flavorpill and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council among others.   FAMERS, you can also contribute by texting ‘DANCE’ to 20222 to make a one-time donation of $5 that will be added to your mobile phone bill or you can make a donation via Pay Pal at www.danceparade.org

As a member of New York City’s underground House community, dance is an intricate part of my life.  Dancing is not only a way to express myself creatively; it is also my spiritual release.  It is my conversation with God, my connection to my ancestors, a fluid form of meditation and the most divine form of exercise that I have ever found.  Through Dance Parade Inc. I have learned that in 2006, a New York State Supreme Court ruled that dance is not a constitutionally protected form of expression, which is a fact I find shocking.  One may not possess the talent to create music or be able to bring dialogue to life, but the gift of movement, whether trained or not is something that we all possess.  Dance is one of the most genuine forms of expression we have.  Every culture or ethnic group that has ever existed had a way to express themselves through harmonious motion.  New York City has many parades, but the Dance Parade is the only parade that gives a vibrant voice to all New Yorkers instead highlighting one particular segment or group.  Watching the diversity of Manhattan communicated through dance is not only riveting, but very necessary.   I hope to see all my FAMERs next year.

Photos:  Marcus Simpson



Cielo Opens Its Doors To Help Haiti

As stated in my previous post Help for Haiti, I will report about events going on in the city that are helping raise much needed aid for the Haitian earthquake relief.  Today one of the Meat Packing District’s hottest clubs is opening its doors for an event that is any dancer’s wet t-shirt dream.  Club Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street, is hosting Song, Dance & Love for Haiti.

This event is organized by Joann Jimenez, Jephté Guillaume and Antonio Ocasio and features some of the most legendary DJs and Producers of house music as well as some of NYC’s most talented underground DJs.  Each hour the audience will move, shake, gyrate and produce its best baby powdered foot work to sets spinned by Jellybean Benetiz, Louie Vega, Danny Krivit, Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, Francois K, Josh Milan and Sabine Blazin.

The event is from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. with proceeds being donated to Doctors without Borders in Haiti, $20 is the suggested donation.  The combination of Club Cielo and the line up of DJs signifies an event of epic proportions.  Dance…dance…dance is the theme for this gloomy Sunday.  Before manic Monday morning comes, I suggest all FAMERS get out the house and shake a tail feather for a good cause.

To learn more about Doctors without Borders please visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org.