Photo credit: Marisol Diaz
Raquel Z. Rivera brings her passion for story with her interest in questioning ethnic, national, and racial boundaries within the culture of the Caribbean and its diaspora into her work as a singer-songwriter and bandleader. Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love has very personal ties to Rivera, who wrote these songs at the same time that she wrote her first novel, titled Beba: A Fake Memoir. Some of the songs are either part of the novel or were written from the perspective of the novel’s narrator and main character, Beba.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera witnessed firsthand the social prejudice between the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities and has dedicated her work, both as a scholar and as a songwriter, to questioning the artificial boundaries of ethnicity, race and nationality raised around cultural expressions.
In 2007, Rivera began exploring the cultural intersection between Puerto Rican and Dominican musical traditions with guitarist and cuatro player Alejandro Negrón. Having previously worked with percussion collectives, this collaboration with strings transformed her work. Rivera later joined forces with guitarist and musical director, Bryan Vargas to form the band, Ojos de Sofia. With her current project, Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love, the overriding themes are the commonalities between Puerto Rican and Dominican traditions. Using music as a sociological tool, Rivera mines musical tradition to discover cultural connections between these seemingly disparate communities. In addition to these broader sociological implications, the body of work of Ojos de Sofia is guided by Rivera’s playful-mindedness and dedicated feminism.
This project focuses on the use of the décimas poetic tradition among Puerto Ricans and Dominicans as well as the connections between “jibaro music,” “bachata,” and “boleros” in both cultures. Las Décimas also expresses the conflict between Rivera’s love for the musical genres that inspired the songs and her exasperation with a sexist melodramatic bent she sees in both genres. The result is creative musical arrangements and quirky lyrics that playfully challenge folkloric and popular music’s approaches to love and loss.
This is the second time that LMCC has supported Raquel for her work musically investigating the intersections between these two cultural traditions. In 2010, Raquel Z. Rivera and Ojos de Sofia received their first Manhattan Community Arts Fund grant to support their project, Las 7 salves de La Magdalena/7 Songs of Praise for Mary Magdelene. Las 7 salves was an earlier exploration of the musical and religious intersections between the Dominican “salves” genre and the Puerto Rican “seis,” “aguinaldos,” and “bomba” genres.
Las Décimas will also feature Dominican guitarist Yasser Tejeda as well as Rivera’s sister, Anabellie Rivera, who will sing a few classic boleros. A free public educational talk/workshop led by Rivera together with Dominican poet Dagoberto Lopez will be offered at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library, to give historical context to the decima form and its cultural roots, and to share the basics of composing and singing decimas.
Dates and Times
December 7, 2013 at 3:00-4:00PM (Workshop in English)
December 8, 2013 at 3:30-5:00PM (Concert)
December 9, 2013 at 5:00-7:00PM (Workshop in Spanish)
December 7th Workshop:
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library, Louis and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College
2180 Third Avenue and 119 Street, New York, NY 10035
December 8th Concert:
St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery Performance Space
131 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10003
December 9th Workshop:
Dominican Studies Institute, North Academic Center, Room 2/202
The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10035
The workshop events are free.
The concert event is a $10 suggested donation.
December 4, 2013
Multidisciplinary artist, Kenji Williams, was classically trained in violin from a very young age, and developed a unique compositional style through a variety of projects including film scores, ambient and dance music, and touring with diverse bands from dub reggae to techno and world music. Williams is also an accomplished filmmaker, directing and producing many award-winning films presented by the CSC and Sundance. In the last ten years of his artistic practice, Williams has been focusing on fusing his visual arts, music, and live performance work into a unified experience. In 2003, he composed and directed a multimedia project called Worldspirit, which combined Williams’ music with animated paintings and spoken word poetry performed by painter Alex Grey. Worldspirit evolved and grew into the Bella Gaia project.Bella Gaia, or “Beautiful Earth,” was originally inspired by a conversation Williams had with NASA astronaut Mike Finke about how seeing the Earth from space profoundly changed him. Bella Gaia began as an endeavor to see how that same transformation could be artistically simulated for earthbound audiences, but has since become a long-term, constantly changing, touring collaboration with NASA scientists and educators, as well as top world musicians such as Yumi Kurosawa, Deep Singh, Kristin Hoffman, and Lety ElNaggar. In its current form, Bella Gaia uses a combination of live music, immersive images and data visualizations of the Earth to illustrate the beauty and fragility of our home planet. Bella Gaia is a living piece of media that continually evolves allowing the performances to include current events, such as major wildfires as seen from space, and to include different customizable content, such as the incorporation of Shinto and Buddhist music, featured in the Bella Gaia incarnation at NYU Skirball Center earlier this year. For the Bella Gaia Planetarium Festival on November 22nd 360-degree experience for the new planetarium theater at the Lower East Side Girls Club’s new facility. In this performance, Williams performs solo violin alongside spectacular visuals and in collaboration with a small choir of young singers from LESGC performing as accompanist, composed and directed by John Del Cueto.
Dates and Times
7:30pm & 8:30pm
Lower East Side Girls Club
402 East 8th street (@ Ave D)
The event is free with RSVP, but a donation to the new Girls Club would be appreciated.
October 31, 2013
2013 MCAF Grantee General Mischief Dance Theatre’s “Buzz” Photo: Eileen O’Donnell
In 2004, choreographer Emily Smyth Vartanian, lighting designer Mark Baker and designer Adam Vartanian banded together to collaborate artistically on mischievous performance pieces. The trio formally incorporated in 2008 under the name General Mischief Dance Theatre with the goal of producing theatrical dance pieces that reinforce the power of joy and laughter in communicating ideas, as well as encouraging the natural human desire to move.
General Mischief Dance Theatre received their first Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grant from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for their production Rascals Cavorting at the Connelly Theater in 2012, which employed narrative stories and interactive dances to appeal to audiences of all ages and levels of dance experience. General Mischief returned to LMCC this year for their upcoming production Three if by Air, which combines contemporary movement with high-flying bungees, yoga, and aerial silk and rope work to create a playful production for children and adults. Following its tradition of joviality and accessibility, General Mischief’s current production promises interactivity, games, mayhem, and mischief to reinforce the belief that joy in movement is universal.
Three if by Air features multiple premieres, including the world premiere of Suite Shel, a trio of dances inspired by the poems of Shel Silverstein. Suite Shel features the choreography of aerialist and choreographer Lisa Natoli of Lisa's Bright Ideas, Director and Tony-Nominated Producer Celine Rosenthal, and General Mischief's Artistic Director, Emily Vartanian. Each dance offers the unique perspective of its choreographer, in a playful twist on Silverstein’s creations. The production features performances by Jane Abbott, Troy Barnes, Dare Harlow, Alisa Fendley, Rachel Kaplove, Lisa Natoli, and Emily Smyth Vartanian.
True to the company’s mission to create and present theatrical dance works which engage audiences emotionally, socially, and kinesthetically, Three if by Air seeks to remind its audience of the power of dance as a joyful, transcendent experience. As with previous productions, after the Saturday performance General Mischief invites audiences to celebrate, discover, or rediscover their own expression through movement by joining the performers onstage for post-performance social dancing.
Dates and Times
Saturday, September 21st at 8PM
Sunday, September 22nd at 5PM
Manhattan Movement and Arts Center
248 West 60th Street
September 1, 2013
Now running through August 10th, LMCC grantee Less Than Rent Theatre presents the world premiere of Ben Diseren’s Beckett in Benghazi debuting at Under St. Marks and produced in association with Horse Trade Theater Group. Under the direction of founder and co-artistic director James Presson, Beckett in Benghazi is a biting satire of both 21st Century diplomacy and civilian treatment of foreign affairs, taking on the misuse of information in the “Information Age” and investigating how we, as Americans, talk about the Middle East. The piece considers the cyclical nature of US Imperialism and addresses it in the way that one might imagine Samuel Beckett would have – with comedy.
Diseren’s script introduces the audience to a beleaguered theatre troupe, days away from opening Beckett’s Endgame, who are pulled into the furor of a debate over the U.S. occupation of the Middle East. As their director whimsically shifts gears on the whole production, the troupe is forced to confront big issues, both political and personal, and ask big questions: Where does imperialism fit into the 21st century? How do we distinguish between sacred traditions and antiquated infringements of human rights? And when do we break for lunch?
Founded in 2010 with the production of Richard 3, a punk-Shakespeare fusion that premiered at La MaMa as part of FringeNYC, Less Than Rent aims to reach new audiences by creating work that is accessible and exciting. Past LTR projects have featured multimedia, dance and live music, have focused on themes such as teen violence, private sector headhunting, and substance abuse, and have been set in locations varying from the set of a sitcom to a dairy farm. Since its inception, Less Than Rent has presented eight full productions and six workshops, has employed over 125 theatre professionals, and has presented work at such venues as Walkerspace, La MaMa, The Wild Project, Theatre for the New City, Dixon Place, and The Brick Theater.
Beckett in Benghazi features performances by Julie Voshell (Movin’ Out; Pop), Becca Ballenger (American Stare), Adam Weppler (Waiting for Lefty with Roundabout; Puppet Hamlet), Rachel B. Joyce (Muskego Lake; Desire! A Varsouviana), Brendan McDonough (Three Sisters with The Assembly), and Patrick Dooley (Words, Razors, and the Wounded Heart). Designs will feature sets by Dan Geggatt (Asuncion; Billy Witch), costumes by Jenni Meador, sound by Emily Auciello (The Dance and the Railroad at Signature Center), choreography by Jennifer Delac, and fight design by Cory Asinofsky (Richard 3).
Dates and Times
July 25 – August 10, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7PM
Under St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place (Between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
Tickets may be purchased at www.horsetrade.info
August 2, 2013
On Wednesday, July 31, LMCC grantee Tara Bracco hosts the 11th annual production of Poetic People Power. This year's show, Invisible Chains: Inequality in America, premieres new poems about inequality advances some groups of people while limiting others to the detriment of all. The theme of this year’s show was collaboratively chosen with participating artists. Writers showcase new works about their own experiences and thoughts on topics such as race, gender, and class. Returning poets include Tara Bracco, Nicole Goodwin, Karla Jackson-Brewer, Frank Antonio López, Scottt Raven, Shetal Shah, and Justin Woo, as new poets are Goodwin, Frank Antonio López, and Scottt Raven.
Poetic People Power is a NYC-based spoken word group that presents shows on timely social and political topics. It was founded in 2003 by Bracco to create an ongoing project that combines poetry and activism. The group uses the expressive art of poetry to educate audiences about the complex issues facing society. The shows creatively explore social and political topics, offering insight and possible solutions to issues that affect our everyday lives.
Previous Poetic People Power shows have focused on pay equity, universal health care, global warming, consumerism, and the global water crisis. Each year a diverse group of artists with varying poetry styles are commissioned to write a new poem on a specific topic to be presented to a public audience. Since its inception, Poetic People Power has presented 10 shows, worked with 25 poets, and commissioned 65 poems on social and political topics.
Wednesday, July 31 at 8 PM
The Wild Project
195 East 3rd Street (between avenues A & B).
Tickets may be purchased here
July 26, 2013
Photo credit: Angela Jimenez
On June 12, LMCC grantee Eve Sicular and her band Isle of Klezbos will present its 15th annual KlezBiGay Pride show, on the theme of Music for a Sustainable City. The soulful, fun-loving powerhouse klezmer sextet will play two music sets including genre-expanding original compositions as well as neo-traditional folkloric tunes, Yiddish swing and tango. This year's MC, Lisa Kron, is a Tony-nominated/Obie-award-winning playwright & actress, co-founder of The Five Lesbian Brothers. In addition, the show will include presentations on urban solar energy programs.
Formed in 1998, Isle of Klezbos now includes Debra Kreisberg (clarinet and alto saxophone), Pam Fleming (trumpet and flugelhorn), Melissa Fogarty (vocalist), Shoko Nagai (accordion and piano), Saskia Lane (upright bass), and Eve Sicular (drummer, bandleader and founder). The group's community and global concerns address the awareness of interconnected ecospheres and neighborhoods. The band's latest work draws sonic inspiration from such styles as Latin, jazz, reggae, and art song along with Eastern European-rooted music of Jewish heritage. The sextet has been featured in broadcasts from "CBS Sunday Morning" to "The L Word," and finds audiences among listeners from many cultural backgrounds, a broad spectrum of sexual and gender identities, and multiple generations.
Isle of Klezbos began celebrating "KlezBiGay Pride" in 1999, as a marker for NYC's special month of LGBT commemorative cultural events and festivities. The group has celebrated every June since with a new theme, in a dozen locations as far-flung as Vienna, Austria and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Isle of Klezbos has returned to the ensemble's East Village roots beginning at CB's 313 Gallery in the Bowery, with “KlezBiGay Pride” performances in El Sol Brillante Community Garden, featuring queer Jewish celebrity MC's including Jennifer "Circus Amok" Miller, Julian "February House" and Deb "Split Britches" Margolin at recent shows.
Dates and Times Wednesday, June 12, 7-9pm
Location El Sol Brillante Garden 522 East 12th Street (between Avenues A & B)
Rain location: The Jewish Community Center of Manhattan 334 Amsterdam Avenue at W 76th Street.
Tickets This event is free. No tickets necessary. For more information: http://www.klezbos.com
June 1, 2013
From May 10, 2013 through May 26, 2013, Amore Opera presents Gounod’s five-act grand opera, Faust: The Eternal Struggle for Man's Soul. In the second half of the 19th Century, Faust, which debuted in Paris in 1859, was among the most popular operas in the world. With 12 performances in French with English subtitles with four rotating casts, Faust will be conducted by Douglas Martin and staged by Nathan Hull. The opera will be performed complete and fully staged performed in its entirety, with a full cast, chorus and orchestra.
The Amore Opera is committed to providing training and performance opportunities to aspiring opera singers in an intimate setting. It was founded in 2010 as a successor to the world-famous Amato Opera, which ran for 61 years on the Bowery. In 2009, when Anthony Amato, its founder and artistic director, retired and sold his “Smallest Grand Opera House in the World,” a core group of his singers and instrumentalists decided to continue his mission. With the gift of Amato costumes and sets for 30 productions, they founded the Amore Opera. Its home, the Connelly Theater, which allows the Amore Opera to include a full orchestra of 23 instrumentalists, is only a few blocks from the Amato’s former home on the Bowery.
As the only opera company on the Lower East Side, the Amore reaches out to veteran opera lovers, senior citizens and children. The Amore Opera’s community, both onstage and off, reflects the full range of New York’s ethnic, economic and racial community. The company entertains, educates and nurtures music appreciation through performances of classical and overlooked opera works that are affordable to all audience.
The complete 2012-2013 season also includes Donizetti’s 1827 “Olivo e Pasquale”, presented in repertoire with “Don Pasquale,” “La Bohème” sung in Italian with English titles and “Operas-in-Brief” series for the whole family.
220 East 4th Street (between Avenues A & B)
New York, New York
Dates & Times
May 10-11: 7:30pm
May 12: 2:30pm
May 16-18: 7:30pm
Sunday, May 19: 2:30pm
May 22-25: 7:30pm
May 26: 3:30pm
For event details and discounted tickets:
http://www.amoreopera.org or call 866-811-4111
April 29, 2013
April 2013: Manhattan Community Arts Fund grantee The Movement Theatre Company
LMCC grantee, The Movement Theatre Company (TMTC) in association with Radical Evolution, presents Look Upon Our Lowliness, a story of seven gay men of color whose lives are turned upside down after the death of a close friend. Written by Harrison David Rivers (2011 GLAAD Media Award winner), and conceived and directed by David Mendizábal (2012 Drama League Fellow), TMTC’s newest production brings forward untold stories of the LGBTQ community of color in New York City. Part meditation and part celebration, the play is a touching and unexpectedly funny examination of the interconnectedness of love, loss, faith, and healing.
TMTC is a Harlem-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing new works by artists of color and producing work that highlights both the collective and diverse human experience. With all of their work, TMTC engages audiences in a rich theatrical dialogue, enlightens communities of color to the important social issues affecting our world, and empowers emerging artists to find their voice.
With Look Upon Our Lowliness, TMTC will contribute to the exchange of knowledge and positive dialogue within the Harlem community surrounding LGBTQ issues, particularly through social media and partnerships with Harlem-based LGBTQ organizations, businesses and events. Prior to, during and after the actual performances, audience members receive pieces of the story through smart phone messaging. Each format creates the opportunity to bring people together to experience, commune and participate in a dialogue around a work that speaks directly to the growing LGBTQ community of color in Harlem.
Featuring: Keith Antone, Tommy Coleman, W. Tre Davis*, Lelund Durond*, Brandon Gill*, Brandon Kyle Goodman*, Paul Pontrelli*, Michael Satow*, and Jared Paul Shuler (*Equity Approved Showcase).
Design team: Paul Tate dePoo III (Scenic), Dede M. Ayite (Costumes), David Bengali (Lighting/Projection), and Mark Van Hare (Sound).
Dates and Times
April 4-6: 8pm
April 11-13: 8pm
April 18-20: 8pm
Including two matinees: April 12th and April 19th at 2pm
The Harlem School of the Arts Theatre, located in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem
645 Saint Nicholas Avenue at 141st Street, NYC
Tickets: Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at www.themovementtheatrecompany.org
April 8, 2013
Midtown Arts Common at St. Peter’s Church presents its annual one-day public jazz festival Prez Fest 2013, celebrating legendary jazz bassist, educator and photographer, Milt Hinton on March 3, 2013 at Saint Peter’s Church in Midtown Manhattan. The program will feature a documentary film based on Milt Hinton’s photographs and a jazz concert of Hinton’s music and the styles of ensembles with which he performed. A month-long show of Hinton’s photographs will also has been on view from January 24 in the Living Room Gallery of Saint Peter’s Church and will be closing on March 4, 2013.
Founded by Rev. John Gensel in 1965, the Jazz Committee of Midtown Arts Common is committed to supporting Jazz, a unique American arts form, presenting jazz programs at St. Peters Church, including programs like Prez Fest, Jazz on the Plaza, and Midtown Jazz at Midday. Prez Fest is an annual jazz festival, which seeks to further the jazz idiom while keeping the contributions of a late musician alive for the next generation of musicians and lovers of jazz. The festival explores the roots and the fruits of a particular musician’s life’s work in detail through concerts, exhibits, workshops, and lectures. Prez Fest has celebrated musicians such as Art Blakey, Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Strayhorn, and Billie Holiday and Lester Young.
The 2013 Prez Fest festival program includes:
Keeping Time: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton, an award-winning documentary film followed by a panel discussion led by David G. Berger with bassist Bill Crow, jazz historian Dan Morgenstern, bassist Rufus Reid, and trumpeter Joe Wilder.
The Legend Wall exhibit tells the life story of Milt Hinton through photographs and other memorabilia. Thirty of Milt Hinton’s photographs drawn from the 60,000 he took during his lifetime are on display in the Living Room Gallery of Saint Peter’s Church from January 24 to March 4, 2013.
Jazz Vespers with Ben Williams Trio Each Sunday at 5:00 P.M. an open community gathers for prayer and reflection on the lines of jazz.
The Keeping Time Concert, presents Milt Hinton’s music and the styles of ensembles with which he performed, featuring preeminent, as well as emerging, artists. The 17-piece Purchase Jazz Orchestra (PJO) from SUNY Purchase, conducted by bassist Todd Coolman, plays works Hinton performed with the Cab Calloway Orchestra. Rufus Reid leads a 20-piece bass choir performing The Judge for the festival’s grant finale.
Saint Peter's Church - Midtown Manhattan
619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street
New York, New York 10022
Dates & Times
Sunday, March 3, 3pm-9pm
Exhibition on view through March 4.
Tickets: See event website for details and discounted tickets
March 1, 2013
Creative Curricula Grantee Art in Motion, previously known for their partnerships with homeless shelters and specifically their work with homeless youth, expanded their reach in 2012 by partnering with Global Tech Preparatory School on a 10-week creative geometry program for 7th graders. In their project, Creative Geometric Sculpture City, the mathematics curriculum of geometric properties and formulas was linked with artistic design to increase students’ understanding of mathematical concepts.
Throughout the Sculpture City teaching sessions, students engaged with mathematical concepts, like calculating volume or creating scaled models with aspect ratios, using their own artistic abilities, such as drawing and painting, along with newly learned skills, including 3-D drawing and object construction. This 10-week exploration then culminated in the building of a geometric sculpture city made up of cohesive sculpture “blocks” by teams of participating students. The sculpture city was presented to Global Tech Prep’s student body and each 7th grade artist had the opportunity to speak to the audience about their work and their creative process. Creative Geometric Sculpture City illustrates the relationship between the creativity that goes into design and the geometry that goes into realizing that design. Though Art in Motion was extremely satisfied with the students’ understanding of the artistic and the mathematical concepts covered by the program, they were even more proud of the way students spoke in their final wrap-up session about how Sculpture City gave them confidence in presenting their work to others and instilled in them the importance of patience, determination, and teamwork.