Click the heading above to view performing arts events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.
How We Hear @ Rough Draft Theater Festival
New Play Explores the Changing Nature of our Political Dialogue
Last weekend I had an opportunity to watch one of the new plays performed at the 5th Rough Draft Festival at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in LIC. The play was entitled How We Hear by Emily Lyon.
It was an exploratory exposition of how the American national dialogue has changed over the past century and a half [158 years], and it was as much an experience, as it was a performance.
What Lyon did with the next hour and half of our time was an interesting journey through selected excerpts of our national debate. But even more importantly, Lyon took us on an exploratory journey that included some real time processing of new forms of mass media. The incredible proliferation of information venues and news access over the past few decades, has inundated our ability to process the news, and stunted our ability to have an honest dialogue about the important issues facing our society, in a manner that everyday Americans are able to manage.
Lincoln Douglas Debates @ LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
I arrived shortly before the performance began and found a seat not far from the stage. The performance was given a short introduction by Handan Ozbilgin, the Rough Draft Festival Director and shortly thereafter, one of the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 [August 21 – October 15] began. The debates were the first ever between two Senate candidates vying to for a U.S. Senate seat [Illinois]. They became an instant sensation, and became the forerunner of the platform upon which Lincoln would run for president in 1860. It’s worth noting that at the time the Senators were elected by state legislatures – not by a direct tally of state citizens’ votes.
How We Hear by Emily Lyon @ Rough Draft Festival
While Triney Sandoval, the Hispanic man who played Douglas, didn’t resemble Stephen Douglas facially, he was an actor and orator of the first degree, and comported himself as one might imagine Douglas. His elocution and diction were very precise, cadenced and reminiscent of an earlier age. And his Hispanic heritage, in what was – over a century and a half ago – an Anglicized age, seemed purposeful in adding an ethnic layer and some complexity, to what was possibly a simpler - although not fairer - time.
Sandoval, as Douglas, talked about the Lecompton Constitution, which was one of the hot issues of the time. The Lecompton Constitution was a competing pro-slavery constitution - for the state of Kansas induction into the United States. The Lecompton Constitution explicitly stated that only white males would have the right to vote.
Ironically, Stephen Douglas, a Democrat, helped the Republicans defeat the pro-slavery constitution by aligning with the other northern Democrats who were against it. This split the party at the time, as the southern Democrats were supportive of the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution.
States Rights Vs Human Rights: Early American Hypocrisy or Dialectic?
Sandoval, as Douglas, then went on to accuse Lincoln and the Republican Party of being a northern political party – not a national political party like the Democrats were. Douglas then cited excerpts from speeches made by Lincoln which seemed at odds with each other. In some speeches Lincoln seemed to appeal to the anti-slavery sentiment of the northern cities [while speaking in Chicago], and Lincoln seemed guilty of appealing to the racial prejudice of the southerners, while speaking in southern Illinois cities like Charleston [which is about the same latitude as St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City]. In Lincoln's southern speeches, he stated that he did not support allowing Black men to become whites' equals, citing that Blacks weren’t fit for the role of jurors and what not.
Stephen Douglas was a Democrat, but he wasn’t pro-slavery per se. He was for the rights of states to decide for themselves what institutions to create and how they should conduct their business. He noted that all of the Founding Fathers had kept their slaves through the Revolutionary War. And Douglas reminded voters of Lincoln’s speech in 1858 in Springfield, Illinois where he said that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And that one day the United States would either be all slave or all free.
CLICK here to read the rest of our report of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Rough Draft Festival performance of How We Hear.
Holiday Lights Festival on Skillman Avenue
Titan Theater Company Performs Vignette Queens Theatre Show
The 8th annual Skillman Holiday Lighting and 3rd annual Skillman Avenue Holiday Lights Festival began around 5 pm Saturday evening and ran until about 8 pm. A nine block stretch along Skillman Avenue, from 43rd to 51st Streets, had been cordoned off from vehicular traffic. And there was unseasonably balmy weather, with temperatures hovering between 50 and 60 degrees.
As I made my way toward the festival, coming from Woodside [see above story], I looked down the hill noticing that all of the blocks along Skillman Avenue, except between 48th and 49th Streets, were largely empty.
Ironically, it seems that traffic had been rerouted - possibly away - from the very businesses that this event had been designed to promote.
But that said, there was a healthy crowd gathered on Skillman Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets, with possibly as many as a couple of hundred people in attendance. This block is adjacent to the courtyard at Sunnyside Reformed Church, where the main stage was situated.
CCM Jimmy Van Bramer took the stage and told us how he had kept a campaign promise by investing in the Skillman Holiday Lights eight years ago, and this year - which I believe is the third year of the festival - he had allocated $15,000 of taxpayer dollars to support this holiday event. NYS Senator Michael Giannaris greeted the crowd, mentioning that CCM Van Bramer was currently one of those in the running to be the City Council Speaker.
Next up were the performers of the Titan Theater Company. The Titan Theater Company is the resident theater group at the Queens Theatre in the Park. This year, from December 8 - 22, they will be performing Dickens' A Christmas Carol, so they treated us to a bit of the holiday performance fanfare, which I captured on video.
The holiday music was so good that it just might put you in a holiday mood. I hope to post it late tonight or tomorrow. Enjoy.
InSitu: Choreographed Communal Catharsis
InSitu Dance Festival Brings Dancing Dument to Waterfront
It was a warm summer day as I made my way down to the Long Island City waterfront parks to witness the possibility of the dawning of a new age of dance along the East River waterfront. There were 24 local choreographers who had organized 75 performances to be given at four Queens parks along the East River waterfronts of Long Island City and Astoria.
InSitu Dance Time: Gantry State Park
I arrived at Gantry State Park in the late afternoon and made my way to the North Basin at the north end of the park. There was an audience gathered, watching the performance of Timepiece, Or: Another Imperfect Measurement by Melissa Riker and the Kinesis Project Dance Theater. The dance explores the measurement of time through the metaphor of sand being released through motion. And the soundtrack reverberates with the constant acoustics and vocal reminders of how trapped in time we have made ourselves.
InSitu Dance Gender: Queensbridge Park LIC
As the performance wound down, I hopped aboard my bike and made my way north along Vernon Blvd in search of the next InSitu dance performance in Queensbridge Park. I arrived early for this performance, which was scheduled to begin shortly after I arrived. Fragile, a piece choreographed and performed by Red House / Project 44 began with the dancers making their way up the park walkway, in some measure like small children clumsily learning how to walk. The piece explores male gender identity and how to enable masculinity and tenderness to coexist in the same man.
InSitu Founder & 'The Great Dictator' in Socrates Sculpture Park
My next and last stop was Socrates Sculpture Park and Hallets Cove. There I met Svea Schneider, the driving force behind InSitu, as well as her urban dance company, Kinematik Dance. Svea was excited at how well the weekend had turned out both weather-wise and performance-wise. The first performance in Socrates Sculpture Park was underway, so I hurried over.
The performance was by the Blue Bus Project + Tyler Gilstrap, performing a piece entitled The Great Dictator. The piece references an old movie made in 1940 as WWII was breaking. It's satire about a Jewish boy who replaces the Great Dictator who is persecuting the Jews. Charlie Chaplin, who had a mustache cut similarly to Hitler's and representative of the times, played the star role and made a famous plea to humanity at the end of the film. The performance used the music of the time and the speech as the soundtracks which accompanied the dance.
InSitu Dance Ecology: Modern Dance at Hallets Cove & East River
The next piece was performed along the Hallets Cove shore along the East River. This performance was by violetsound who did a piece they named Terroroir. In this piece they fabricate an allegorical exploration of who to blame for the earth's troubles, while unearthing underlying currents of human wonderment. People lined the rail along Vernon Blvd to watch the InSitu spectacle ... which would be the final performance of the day and weekend.
I departed the East River waterfront dance performances with plenty to contemplate. It was an interesting late afternoon, early evening of human sculptured art forms in motion. I shot some video along the way and hope to post it when I get the time to do it right.
InSitu was performed on Saturday and Sunday, July 8th & 9th, at Hunters Point South Park, Gantry State Plaza Park, Queensbridge Park and Socrates Sculpture Park. InSitu was a collaboration between the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement and Kinematik Dance Theater.
Free Summer Theater In The Park - Free Things To Do In Queens
Free Theatrical Performances / Summer Theater In Queens
This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in Queens this summer, including free theater in Queens parks.
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free summer theater in Queens - Shakespeare in the Park.
Sorry: A Work of Art ... a Masterpiece?
Modern, Multi-media Melange Explores Emotions of Misunderstanding
I attended a performance of Sorry, a multi-media dance, poetry and theatrical work that came about from a two year residency at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. I went in expecting to see a modern dance performance, but experienced so, sooo much more.
I was instructed to arrive a bit early as there's free form dancing that begins about thirty minutes prior to the performance opening. When I arrived, I couldn't distinguish between the audience members and the cast, as some of the people in the crowd were quite good dancers.
The performance was held on the stage of the Main Theatre, which the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center has quite skillfully transformed into a modern dance / theatrical space - which is quite separate, but a subset of the original, traditional, Grecian auditorium style of the Main Theater itself.
After a while the performance began with an Islamic, American immigrant poetically recanting a mournful separation he was in the midst of experiencing with his girlfriend. One of the walls lit up with a life-size passing #7 subway train, as the orator took us with him on a current-day journey through the boroughs of New York City as witnesses to the angst in his life.
It was a bit like the movies, although so much more real, as we sat huddled in the ambient darkness of the theater, with life size video murals sweeping by, accompanied equally large still life photos and a three performer live cast. The music and choreographed dances allegorically captured the powerful troubled feelings of the characters portrayed.
The work explores the near universal, difficulty of human relationships in a modern, mixed, urban environment. Relationships complicated by gender roles, ethnicity and cultural learning - that are being sorted out simultaneously by all of us whether knowingly or not, as we travel through space and time in what may intermittently seem our lengthy, but short lives.
Later this week I'll continue this, including the addition of video and photos, but you only have a few days left to see it [Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8 pm] - and seating is limited [www.lpac.nyc - $20].
Androgynous Dance or a Dream?
Venomous by BARE Dance Strikes LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
I was right on schedule as I bounded up the subway stairs. At the turnstile I learned that my commute might take 20 minutes longer than planned due to maintenance … but as the fates would have it … I arrived just in the nick of time.
I joined the last audience group as they diffidently entered the backstage area of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. We followed a wolf headed actor into the labyrinthine hallways where our first stop was a dressing room, where the cast began preparing us (the audience) for the show. I looked into the mirror at the actors and audience, and in the blue and pink theatrical light, it was difficult to discern the difference. The lines between performers and audience had already begun to blur.
The wolf headed man, sternly motioned us to follow him and then like a dog he led us onward through the shadowed hallways. We soon came upon another theatrical vignette … in the chamber of the freight elevator … where audience members were singled out for … ohmigod AAAAAAArrrgggghhhhh.
Click here to read the rest of our story including photos of the performance of Venomous by Bare Dance Company at LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
Astoria International Cultural Festival
On Saturday May 21st from 1.30 until past 6 pm, there was a series of cultural performances held on the Great Lawn of Astoria Park. The event was hosted by the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition [CALDC] to showcase the multi-ethnicity of tne neighborhood.
Nearly a dozen local cultural groups performed, including Ballet Los Pampas representing Argentina, KUD Halaturko representing Bosnia, Croatian Franciscan Fathers Youth Club, Ayazamana Cultural Center representing Ecuador, Cretan Association representing Greece, NYC Bhangra representing India, McManus School of Irish Dance, The Braata Folk Singers representing the Caribbean / Jamaica, and the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Center.
There was a crowd that numbered in the hundreds over the course of the afternoon. Many brought lawn chairs and blankets to sit upon while they watched the show. The weather cooperated as the temperature was in the 60's and while at times cloudy, it was dry.
Several food vendors came out to augment the cultural celebration, now in its second year. As I came late in the afternoon, I had missed the prime time of that part of the event. In the photo at right you can see one of the performers walking up the Astoria Park Great Lawn after her performance.
Click here for a brief video of some of the 2016 International Culture Festival in Astoria Park.
Theater: Unpacking American Identity
Want to Know What it Feel like to be a Minority Living in the USA?
I attended A Black Lives Matter Play performed at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. The play is part of a theatrical theme developed by LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center to explore the intricate mosaic of humanity that comprises American society. A wide number of the cultural composite represented in American society may be found in the culturally diverse student body at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
Last year the program focused on exploring Muslim identity in New York City. The intent was to provide a more holistic view of Islamic peoples than portrayed by the American media, whose primary depiction of Islam, a culture representing over a fifth of the world’s population, is centered around those working in the field of terrorism. And by American media, it’s important to include the Hollywood entertainment industry, which accounts for a huge portion of time people spend absorbing programs factually or fictionally portraying the world around us.
The obsession with the more gruesome events and villainous people of a culture is not uncommon for the American media. One doesn’t have to look far to find lopsided depictions of the culture of Italian Americans, through the obsession of those working as mafiosos, of Latin Americans as drug lords, and of African Americans, by depicting them as hoodlums.
Enter LaGuardia Community College Performing Arts Center and ‘Unpacking American Identity’, which strives to use theater to educate, elucidate and eradicate the inherent biases and popular misconceptions disseminated via the unrelenting sounds, images and lopsided portrayals of the cultures of the members of their student body.
DanceWorks New York City
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria Hosts DanceWorks
I just returned from one of the most exciting dance performances I’ve seen in a long, long while. The dances were performed at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria on Saturday night. Unfortunately, DanceWorks performances may only be seen twice a year and the next one isn't until May 21st 2016 at this same location.
The show opened with a short introduction by DanceWorks Founder Lisa Mara, and DanceWorks New York City Director Jackie Arcy. Their introduction was followed by a dance video. And then the show began.
The show presented about two dozen original works and literally included a cast of about 140 dancers and choreographers. All of the dancers and choreographers had auditioned to participate in the show and then practiced and rehearsed for 16 straight weeks. The show lasted two hours, but the time flew by.
The photo above shows one of the dance performances at DanceWorks New York City at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the semi-annual performance entitled DanceWorks New York City NYC at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria.
Hell Gate Horror was ... well ... horrifying ..
Neighborhood Halloween House Includes Plenty of Theater & Imagination
It was a hauntingly calm evening as I dared to return to the haunted Hell Gate Horror of Astoria. It was a century ago that the Hell Gate Bridge was nearing completion over the East River and the thought of what happened last year had raised the hair on my back as I approached.
This year I decided to take along a video camera so that what I might miss with my own eyes might be captured in the video. But alas, it was so dark, that even the camera couldn't keep pace with the spirits and ghosts hovering under the Hell Gate Bridge on this haunted horrifying evening.
They say a picture says a thousand words, so with that I'll let you take the journey into the Hell Gate Horror of Astoria yourself. If you click into the story we did last year and compare it to the video this year, you'll see they freshen it up with new themes, back drops and costumes. Boo.
Click here to see the video of the Hell Gate Horror Halloween House of Astoria.
Chhaya's Celebration Of South Asian Food, Fashion & Cultures
It was a beautiful day as I made my way to 78th Playstreet in Jackson Heights to attend the 5th Annual Chatpati Mela Festival. Each year the festival seems to enhance its dimensions through food, performance, cultural costumes and wares.
They had a number of vendor tents lined up along the 78th Playstreet corridor [it ceased being a city throughway years ago], as well as food tents. Toward the northern end of the street there was a stage where musical and dance performances were in session.
Click here to see the food, fashion and a video of the music and dance performances at Chatpati Mela in Jackson Heights.
SummerStage Queensbridge Park w/ G. Clinton
I just received a few photos I had requested to post from some of the folks I met at SummerStage. I had attended the event Saturday evening, as I wasn't able to make it on Wednesday when George Clinton made an appearance as part of SummerStage at Queensbridge Park last Wednesday.
George Clinton is generally a big attraction whereever he plays in NYC, and it was no different here in Queens as you can see by the photo at right shot by Eliana Rowe.
Clinton & his band performed to the audience's delight on a hot summer night.
SummerStage in Queensbridge Park
Refreshing, Rhythmic & Moving The Audience
On Saturday evening, after a bit of rain during the day, I made my way through the hot and humid streets of Queens, down to the East River waterfront in Queensbridge Park.
At 7 pm there was to be a performance by a Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, a professional dance company; and at 8 pm a dance performance by the Rashida Bumbray Dance Diaspora Collective.
I arrived in between the two sets, and enjoyed the setting of the sun, along with the other hundred plus members of the audience. As the sun set and the air began to cool, three of the Rashida Bumbray dancers took to the stage, dancing to a slow, bluesy Jimi Hendrix tune [see photo at right]. The crowd loved it. The tune was Red House which was recorded in December 1966 and was one of the earliest 'Experience' pieces created by Hendrix before he died three short years later in 1970.
What followed was a series of performances by the Rashida Bumbray Dance Diaspora Collective. The Rashida Collective hails from Oberlin College in Ohio, lead by Adenika Sharpley. They choreograph dance movements to the music of the African diaspora from around the globe. Cultural references are embedded into the dance pieces, and set to the musical rhythms created by African descendants.
"The bluesy notes from Jimi's guitar, slowly began vibrating through the electro-magnetic fields of our corporeal bodies.
As the acoustical resonance started journeying through the neurological pathways lying dormant within our humanoid forms.
And the musical rhythms began seeping in, initiating movement,
... relaxing ... engaging ... swaying ... dance ...
giving us the feeling of being one unified, individuated, planetary people."
Aahh yeh, today's pop culture is the grown seedling of the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. The performances at Woodstock some 45 years ago, which frightened the Nixonian establishment, are now the classical blues and rock music of today. And so much has changed ... with some for the better and some not.
It looks like we're heading into the hot part of the summer, in the city, when life must slow down ... so
... relax and pamper yourself ... and let the rhythms ... of the seasons ... of life ... in.
SummerStage organizes cultural events like this to help bring us together. We'll post more next year when they return to Queens. In the meantime there are a number of other, locally-organized cultural events that are also of good interest. Click into the Things To Do section along the top tool bar, or click into the music, film and theater sections on this site to find out more about free and paid cultural performances in Queens.
Free Concerts In Queens 2018 - Free Things to do in Queens
Free Summer Concerts in Queens Parks
This report is part of a series of reports about some of the free things to do in Queens this summer. This report includes a schedule of the mostly free music and free summer concerts in the parks in Queens.
Click here to view our listing of free summer concerts Queens- free things to do in Queens.
Real-Time. Off Line. Interactive. Online. Theater.
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Takes Center Stage With Rough Draft Festival
A bit more than a week ago I headed down to the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center to watch / participate in one of the performances of the week-long Rough Draft Festival.
The Rough Draft Festival is the creation of Managing Director Steven Hitt and Assistant Director Handan Ozbilgin of LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center. The festival was the evolution of experimental dance and theatrical work the two had been collaborating on with Queens and New York City performing artists over a number of years. In 2013 they launched the first Rough Draft Festival to attract, audition, present and refine original choreographed and theatrical works probing themes relevant to the Queens community.
The work I would view today was entitled The Art of Hijab. Kohl Black and the Right Way to Pray. This production dovetailed with another project undertaken by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center dubbed Beyond Sacred, which is a grant-sponsored exploration of Islamic cultural identity.
Click here to read our report about the Rough Draft Festival at the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center. Report.
Choreo_Politics @ PS1 MoMA
Highly Intellectual Discussion About 21st Century Life, as Seen by Contemporary Activists & Early Modern Philosophers
January 25, 2015 / LIC Neighborhood / Art in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Choreo_Politics discussions on Sunday in the dome of the courtyard of PS1 MoMA in LIC. The event was hosted by Cristina Caprioli and included four panelists, including Peggy Phelan, Avital Ronell and Adham Hafez.
For the segment of the afternoon that I was in attendance, Peggy was the primary speaker. She appeared well read as she made numerous references to several of the late 19th and early 20th century German and French philosophers, including Nietzche, Kant and Bataille.
It was a deep philosophical discussion which included comments from the audience about finding meaning or trying to understand the life and times in which we now live. In one segment of the conversation Peggy talked about female gender roles and how being a woman affects one's persona. Some of the rhetoric included questions such as do women invite male aggression as a part of being a woman? Where is the boundary for a welcome advance versus an unwelcome push? Do women trip themselves up or are they suppressed by the male dominated environment? These aren't her exact words, but a facsimile of them, as I was distracted having just lost my notebook.
After a brief search for the lost notebook, I returned. Peggy was talking about communication. How gestures can undermine what we say. She said that we need to communicate because of our failure to communicate. She went on to talk about falling ... falling ill, falling in love and falling asleep. She was linguistically and philosophically aware, and seemed to have a sense of both the audience and her theatrical surroundings. I was sorry I hadn't arrived earlier.
I'll post a bit more including a photo slide show of this event later in the week.
Shakespearean 'Titan' In The Park
First Play By 'Theatre Company In Residence' At Queens Theatre In The Park
October 6, 2014 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Theater & Theatres / Queens Buzz. I made my way into Flusing Meadows Corona Park to preview Titan Theatre Company's production of the Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play is an adapted version of the old bard's work.
In the adaptation Titan Theatre Company added a dash of 'gay-eity' to it and also edited down the play in both verbiage and performance time. The intent of the adaptation is to make performances of the 400 year old play more modern and appealing to present-day audiences.
I sat down in the little theatre of Queens Theatre In The Park shortly after the show had begun. Puck, the fairy, was administering the love potion - per his master Oberon's orders. But alas - Puck makes a mistake - and a string of comedic errors is set into motion.
In the photo at right is Bottom, one of the actors in the play-within-the-play, who's been transformed into an ass by a fairy Puck. Seated in the background is the devlish Puck who administered the magical serum.
We'll have more about Titan Theatre Company's performance at Queens Theatre In The Park, including a photo slide show, at a later date.
Can One Connect Communities Through Culture?
Islam & America: LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Artistically Explores Muslim Culture
September 29, 2014 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. On September 11th, 2001 the Muslim culture came front and center into America's consciousness. It was a disastrous day for Americans including Muslim Americans. But for Muslim Americans it also created, and left behind, a long lasting negative bias toward all Muslims - not just those associated with the 911 atrocities.
Most of what America hears and knows about Muslim culture comes through the war torn lens of the Middle East, even though more than 80% of Muslims in the world live outside of that region. The reason America pays so much attention to the Muslims of the Middle East is that they are inextricably tied up with the world's - and our own - oil energy needs. Hence many of the stories we see and hear are generally associated with either the terrorists involved in 911 or the multi-millenia old blood feuds of the Middle East. Yet examining Muslim culture using the battles of the Middle East as the peephole, is akin to learning about German or Japanese culture through the narrow lens of World War II.
Historically America has had a generous heart, even toward those with whom we've fought. Two centuries ago we fought the Revolutionary War For Independence against Great Britain. And it was less than 70 years ago that both Germany and Japan were our nation's greatest enemies. Germany attacked our Atlantic crossing ships and Japan dropped bombs on our Navy at Pearl Harbor. Yet today we now count all of these nations among our closest friends.
There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making it the second largest religious / cultural group in the world [there are 2.2 billion Christians]. And Muslim culture spans the globe, from the Middle East [317 million], to Europe [44 million], Africa [248 million], Asia [986 million] and the Americas [4 million]. But that said, only between four and five million of Muslims live in the Americas.
Hence, to broaden and deepen our understanding of Islamic culture beyond the Middle Eastern crises, the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center applied for and won grants from the Association of Performing Artists, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to widen our lens of Muslim culture. And they added more than a dash of NYC spice to it.
Thus on Friday evening, I attended a dance performance entitled Leap of Faith, the second event of the year long series entitled Beyond Sacred: unthinking Muslim identity. The performances included a belly dancer, a swirling dervish, and three modern interpretive dances - two of which explore personal journeys by Muslim Americans who are children of both cultures. We'll post more later today including a photo slide show of the performances.
They Disco'ed Silently In The Park
Lincoln Center Local Hosts Silent Disco In Hunters Point South Park
Just ahead, in the borough's shiny new park - Hunters Point South - there was an end-of-summer gala organized by Lincoln Center Local. This was, to be sure, the second last weekend of the summer.
In the neighborhood of one or two hundred people were corralled inside the Lincoln Center Local Silent Disco. They had arrived early enough [sign up started at 5.30 pm] to obtain a set of wireless headphones so that they could listen to the rhythm and beat of a couple of NYC DJ's - Bill Coleman and Bobby Morales.
At 6 pm those who came early were treated to a free dance lesson, and then from 7 pm - 10 pm they danced along the waterfront.
Click here later today for the rest of our story and a slide show of the Silent Disco in Hunters Point South Park in LIC. The event was organized by Lincoln Center Local with the support of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
Where For Art Thou?
Hip To Hip Theatre In The Park Keeps Wisdom Of Old Bard Alive In Queens
August 4, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood & LIC Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I attended one of the four Shakespeare in the Park performances this past weekend in Queens. Two Gentlemen of Verona was performed in Cunningham Park on Thursday and in Gantry State Park on Saturday and Cymbeline was performed in Sunnyside Gardens Park Friday evening and in Socrates Sculpture Park in LIC on Sunday evening.
Hip to Hip Theatre Company of Woodside was the theater company performing the 400 year old works which contain themes of love, friendship, greed, envy and (dis)trust that remain relevant to this day.
The actors wear microphones connected wirelessly to speakers, so that the audience is now able to hear every word they utter. In the early years of outdoor theater this wasn't possible. Thus technology has made watching outdoor theater far more enjoyable, not to mention easier on the actors' and actresses' vocal chords so that this weekend four performances were possible without so much as hearing one hoarse voice.
The free Shakespeare in Queens parks continues through the coming two weeks.
Three Graces & The Struggle For Rights
August 7, 2014 / Long Island City LIC / Theater In Queens / Queens Buzz. By Michael Wood. On June 28th I attended the final performance of Three Graces at the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
The title, Three Graces, has a historical reference to Greek mythology. The three graces include beauty, delight and creativity. These characteristics were oftentimes depicted by three young, frequently nude, women who were meant to fill the world with pleasant moments and goodwill. In art these three women are frequently shown dancing around in a circle to the divine music of Apollo. Since the play was written by an American woman with Greek roots, Ruth Margraff, I assumed the historical references had relevance.
The play opens in modern day Istanbul. Istanbul has long been both the cultural and economic capital of Turkey, while Ankara is the political capital of the nation. This is similar in kind to the national role of New York City in the U.S. vis a vis the governing role of Washington, D.C.
The play references recent modern day events - the Spring 2013 riots of Taksim Square / Gezi Park in Istanbul, where reportedly 11 people were killed and thousands significantly injured when the Turkish government / police cleared the park of a sit-in to protest a new government-lead real estate development in Taksim Square and Gezi Park. As is frequently the case, embedded in the protest were a number of issues and themes that went well beyond the real estate development itself.
Click here for the rest of our review of the Three Graces play w/ photos at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in LIC.
Queens Public Notices - Employment, Funding, Arts Open Calls, Housing & Business
This section of the site is dedicated to posting notices about government issues, the environment, community issues and art / cultural issues and opportunities. Queens Public Notices includes public notices for the neighborhoods of Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing, Jamaica neighborhoods of Queens NY.
We post select public notices for non-profits, community organizations, cultural organizations and some independent notices for free. Please note that particular events should be posted in the Member Calendar [contact us for instructions] and that this section is designated for NOTICES meaning things like soliciting input for upcoming public hearings, grant opportunities and deadlines and so forth.
Please send notices to notices [at] queensbuzz.com.
Thanks for your interest in the Queens Buzz.
Click here to view the public notices posted on Queens Buzz.
A Moving Performance Of Four People's Lives
November 5, 2013 / Long Island City LIC Neighborhood / Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I had an opportunity to experience the play Pirira just before it opened on October 10th. The original script production is being performed at the Chain Theater in LIC through this weekend, ending November 10th.
It's rare when a play draws tears to the ducts, providing a sort of cathartic release - very much in response to a command performance, as well as from the emotional grist buried beneath the surface in our own lives. Actress Flor De Liz Perez is shown in the photo above right performing in the dress rehearsal of Pirira.
The play is staged in two locations, halfway around the world. One of the locations is in a flower shop in New York, while the other is in the backroom of an American charitable organization in Malawi in Africa. The actors are ... click here for a full review of the play Pirira produced by 167 Theatre.
City Council Meeting: Democracy or Farce?
The Highly Interactive Virtual Reality Play
The play is the brainchild of a producer / writer who came up with the idea while attending a city council meeting on Portland, Oregon.
The writer lives in Brooklyn and has a residency with an arts group in Manhattan. He began attending City Council Meetings in NYC and around the nation, and soon his idea began to take form. He invited a couple of friends to help him flush out the idea, and we saw a very good sketch of the most interactive performance I've seen, at the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
We'll have more on this sometime soon. It was well worth the visit and there's a lot of real life analogies / things to consider that came out of it.
Jamaica & The Performing Arts
Dance Out Loud Receives Thunderous Applause
March 16, 2013 / Jamaica NY / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Dance Out Loud benefit for the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. It was held at the renovated First Dutch Reformed Church, which is now the 400 seat Jamaica Performing Arts Center. The First Dutch Reformed Church was built in 1858, and made a landmark in the mid 1970’s after a community effort saved it from being demolished in 1975. After twenty years of limbo and renovations, the building was reopened as the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in 2009. But I digress.
Tonight we would watch some of the best dance companies in the NYC metro area perform a variety of original works, a pleasure that is difficult to find anywhere – even in Manhattan.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the Dance Out Loud benefit dance performances at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, including a photo slide show of the performances.
Virtual Arts TV Shows Their TITS
Wired Arts Fest Celebrated in Queens
March 8, 2013 / Theater in Queens / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I attended a Virtual Arts TV performance, entitled TITS, on February 19th at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City. The performance was part of a twelve-day event entitled Wired Arts Fest. Wired Arts Fest is one of the first of its kind, and by the looks of things, appears to not only have legs, but great TITS as well.
TITS, the show, is the brainchild of Ege Maltepe who is a Turkish actress from Turkey who now resides in NYC. The comedy lecture takes on one of huMANity’s favored subjects: TITS. It seems Ege stumbled upon the American [and perhaps global] fascination with this part of the female anatomy while joking around. She found that both women, as the owners, and most men; have something between a fascination and obsession with TITS.
And so she created Professor G, the main character in this one-woman comedy lecture. Click this link to view the Virtual Arts TV Queens performance of TITS, including photos of the performance [NOT FOR CHILDREN].
Dancing In The Ether
Dance Entropy Explores The Continuum of Time & Space
February 21, 2013 / Dance in Queens / LIC Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I received a rare treat on Wednesday morning when I went to preview the dance performances planned for this weekend at Green Space in LIC. The weekend celebration includes five dance pieces, three of which are being premiered and two of which have been performed and perfected.
I was one of only a handful of people in the audience, as the dancers did one last rehearsal before their opening performance Thursday evening February 21, 2013. The photo above was taken at the dress rehearsal performance of Skimming the Surface by Dance Entropy at Green Space in LIC.
Click here for a short description of each performance and a slide show of Skimming the Surface by Dance Entropy at Green Space in LIC, as well as a bit longer exploration into one of the new pieces. The report also includes a couple of interviews with the dancers.
Dance & Theater in Queens News - Briefs
News Briefs About Dance & Theater Events in Queens
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Flamenco Dancing In Queens
American Bolero Brings To Queens The Dance & Music Of Old Spain
March 16, 2012 / Astoria / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. I went to watch the American Bolero Dance Company perform Tablao Flamenco on Friday night. There were eleven performances by a panoply of dancers and musicians, who sensually revived the heart and soul of ancient Andalusia and colonial Spain.
The performances were exciting to watch. The dancers’ hard heels struck the wooden stage floor, in a staccato rhythm. And as the taps resounded in the air ... the cantadores emoted the melodies of Spain's Medieval past, filling the theater with vibrations of the spirit.
The dancers’ fast-footed movements, belied the beautiful tranquility of their lithe upper torsos and slender arms, flowingly extended up into the air, entrapping us as we watched. In the photo to your right is Gabriela Granados, dancing the flamenco in Astoria.
Click here to read the rest of our review of Tablao Flamenco – flamenco dancing in Queens.
Astoria Performing Arts Center
Astoria Performing Arts Center - Children Of Eden
May 4, 2010 / Astoria / Queens Buzz. I just returned from watching a dress rehearsal of Children Of Eden which is about to open at the Astoria Performing Arts Center [APAC] at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Astoria. I’ll start by clarifying the relationship of APAC to the Good Shepherd Church, which is something I had previously pondered.
APAC Offices Are Located In Good Shepherd Church
The Good Shepherd Church is the home to the United Methodist Church which owns and runs the church. The church apparently shares the space with the United Methodist Korean Church as well as rents some space to the Astoria Performing Arts Center. To our knowledge, the church and APAC are not affiliated.
Latino Cultural Festival Begins
Outdoor Theater In Astoria, Flushing / Indoor LIC
July 29, 2010 / Queens Buzz. This weekend, generally clear skys, with highs in the low 80's [lows in mid 60's] with a 40% chance of rain on Sunday. Thursday night in Flushing, Queens Theatre In The Park kicks off it's annual Latino Cultural Festival at 8 pm with Contra Tiempo, Urban Latin Dance Theatre. The festival opening will be followed by a party that runs until 12 midnight [theater]. The Latin Cultural Festival runs through August 8th. Also the last performance of the International Theater Festival begins at 6.30 pm Thursday night at LPAC in LIC [theater].
On Friday in Flushing the Queens Museum Of Art continues its passport Fridays, with an outdoor dance / music performance and a film about Taiwan [art]. In LIC on Saturday night starting at 5 pm there's an Alex Chilton festival, including readings, a screening and a concert [theater]. Also in LIC, beginning Saturday afternoon, PS1 continues hosting its Warm Up parties in their courtyard [art]. On both Saturday and Sunday in Astoria Park, the Curious Frog Company will perform A Midsummers Nights Dream at 1 and 4 pm respectively [theater].
For details of these and other events, click into the Queens Events link on the tool bar above. Also note that this weekend there are three wine tastings [Thurs / Fri / Sat] in LIC and Astoria, the details of which may be found in the Members Calendar along with several other member posted events.
Queens Theatre In The Park
Queens was treated to its 8th bi-annual Legislative Revue at Queens Theatre In The Park in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens NY. The Revue features local government officials a number of theatrical and musical skits.
Dance & Theater In Flushing & Corona
Jerry Stiller At Queens Theatre In The Park
Jackson Heights 3 AM
Third Of A Trilogy About Jackson Heights
January 18, 2012 / Jackson Heights / Performing Arts in Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz. I just returned from previewing Jackson Heights 3 AM. It’s the third of a trilogy put together under the direction of Ari Kreith of Theatre 167 about the Jackson Heights neighborhood. The play is as mixed as the neighborhood, combining comedy, tragedy and romance to portray the late-night life in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of Jackson Heights.
The cast of actors and actresses did a great job of caricaturing a wide swath of late night personas, as they drew us into the post midnight hours along Roosevelt Avenue; journeying into some of the drama and humor that might generally accompany a late night voyage into NYC urbanity in northwestern Queens.
Click here to read our review of Jackson Heights 3 AM by Theatre 167.
theatre 167 in jackson heights
You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase
March 14, 2011 / Jackson Heights / Dance & Theater / Queens Buzz. I was able to preview the new play, You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase, now in progress at 167 theatre in Jackson Heights. It's an original work written by about seven people. The producer came up with the approach to collecting material for the play, and then in collaboration with a dramaturg, worked with the group to shape it.
The story revolves around a young woman from Ecuador who decides to visit her grandmother in Jackson Heights to see if she would like to live here. She meets an American on the plane [see photo] and before they depart, their suitcases get switched. We follow both of them into the magical world of Jackson Heights, watching their encounters with the Indian / Bengali phone salesman, the Chinese or Korean dry cleaner ...
Click here to read our report about You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase by theatre 167, including a photo slide show of the play which runs last three weekends in March 2011 at PS 69 in Jackson Heights.
Jackson Repertory Theatre
167 Tongues Strikes Theatrical Gold
May 7, 2010 / Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz. I just returned from experiencing something truly wonderful. I saw a play entitled 167 Tongues, which opens on May 7th and runs three weeks under the auspices of the Jackson Repertory Theatre at PS 69. Better buy your tickets now, because this is something that could quickly catch fire and with only 99 seats available per night, they could go quickly.
167 Tongues By The Jackson Repertory Theatre
So let’s start at the beginning, which was Wednesday night when I arrived to watch the play. When I found they weren’t in costume I asked to return the following night as the final rehearsal was to be done in costume. But before I left I took several mental notes, which gave rise to consternation about what I was to experience the following evening.
Click here to view a review of 167 Tongues by the Jackson Repertory Theatre.
Black Wall Street At York College PAC
Coming To Grips With The Whole Of Our Nation's Past
January 7, 2013 / Jamaica NY Neighborhood / Performing Arts in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the theatrical production of Black Wall Street at the York College Performing Arts Center on Saturday. The play is about the prosperous, African American Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921; and based on a historical book entitled Death in the Land of Promise.
The play centers around an incident in an office building elevator which lead to a white attack on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, leaving somewhere between 30 and 300 dead [some of whom were shot in the back] and most homes in the neighborhood were burnt to the ground. After two days of house burning, gunfire and looting, the Governor of Oklahoma stepped in and declared martial law. But it was too late. The damage had already been done.
The play is a production of Shades of Truth Theatre Company, which produces and performs original works that tell largely untold tales of the African American experience. Click here for our report and slide show of Black Wall Street.
Rent At York College Performing Arts Center
May 4, 2012 / Jamaica NY / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. The York College Performing Arts Center is hosting performances of the musical, Rent, through May 13th. I had the opportunity to attend a performance of it last weekend, which includes an all-star cast of eighteen actors and actresses, most of whom have affiliations with York College.
The play is scripted along the same lines as the century old Italian opera, La Boheme. La Boheme is based upon a French novel entitled Scenes of the Bohemian Life, which was about the life of ‘starving artists’ living on the left bank of Paris during the tuberculosis epidemic of the late 1800’s. Rent is an updated version of that storyline - about starving artists living in the east village of New York City during the AIDS epidemic of the 1990’s.
Click to the Queens Events calendar and then click the theater link to obtain performance times and ticket information. And click here to view our review and photo slide show of Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center.
The Wedding ... Community Theater With Redemptive Theme
Can One Marry A Billionaire And Still Keep Their Sense of Self?
December 12, 2011 / Jamaica / Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. Saturday afternoon I made my way to the York Performing Arts Center in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens to see a new play entitled The Wedding.
The play was written by Beverly Morrison Caesar for Arts in Christian Theatre [ACT] which is associated with the Pentecostal Church on Guy Brewer Blvd. Beverly’s plays contain a redemptive message and are performed by volunteers from the church and surrounding community.
I spoke to Beverly about how the play originated and how she combined theater, pantomime and a fashion show all in one grand performance. Click here to read more about The Wedding at the York Performing Arts Center in Jamaica Queens.
Jamaica Center For Arts & Learning
Jamaica NY / Queens Buzz. The Jamaica Center For Arts & Learning, also known as JCAL, is a community cultural center that has been serving the Jamaica community for nearly forty years. The center offers classes and performances to help educate children and foster appreciation for the arts and learning.
The Play For Rent Runs This Week
New Theatrical Production at LaGuardia in LIC
October 22, 2012 / LIC Neighborhood / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended one of the dress rehearsals of For Rent last week at LaGuardia Community College in LIC. It was the second time I had seen the play and it gets better with each viewing. The play is a working project of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.
The play is set in modern day Istanbul, the thriving capital of Turkey, and quite possibly one the next members of the European Union. Istanbul has become the New York of its country - where extreme wealth resides side by side with extreme poverty. Rather than ignore or hide these people's plight, this play dives right into their midst; with all the violence, sex and fragility that permeates their impoverished lives. In the photo to your left is Sadik, the boss, with Ferhan the cheat in For Rent at LPAC in LIC.
Art Imitates Reality in the 'Museum'
Play Portrays People in Art Museum & Parallels Visits to PaintCan Studios during LIC Art Open
May 15, 2012 / Sunnyside / Performing Arts in Queens / Queens Buzz. The Museum was the first play written by Tina Howe back in 1976. It’s a mix of comedy and satire depicting the scene in an art gallery on the last day of a controversial artist’s show. The play includes about forty characters who come through the gallery to see the show before it ends.
The ‘set’ is a large artist studio in the PaintCan, which is the affectionate name given the third floor of 10-10 44th Road. The PaintCan is the home to about a dozen or more artists’ studios containing a range of artwork and artists that were easily worth the visit themselves. We’ll post a separate report on the PaintCan in the coming day.
Maids – Final Installment
Mutation From Original Themes, Into Exploration Of Time
November 5, 2011 / Long Island City / Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from watching the final installment of Maids. Maids was a four production work put on by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center [hereafter referred to as LPAC] in Long Island City. While the germ of the work was based on a Jean Genet play, the play only served as the starting point for what was an experimental work created by Handan Ozbilgin, Assistant Artistic Director of LPAC.
It’s been said, that “art should make one feel uncomfortable”. One of the goals of art is to challenge one’s perspective, move one out of their comfort zone, get one to see things in a different light and make one think about things. And so it was tonight that … click here to read the rest of our review of the final installment of Maids – experimental theater in LIC Queens.
Dance Festival Mixes Motion & Art
Green Space Blooms Festival
April 8, 2011 / Long Island City / Dance & Theater / Queens Buzz. I attended the first evening of the Green Space Blooms dance festival Friday night. It’s the fifth year of the Queens modern dance festival, which runs through April 17th at Green Space in Long Island City [see Queens Events for details].
There are about thirty dancers and choreographers involved in the festival, making it the largest event of this nature in the Queens thus far this year. On opening night, three dance companies performed their works, only one of which I photographed, out of costume at their rehearsal.
Click here for our review of the Green Space Blooms dance festival 2011 in Queens.
Maids 3:337 - Life As Theater
Kept Off Balance While Struggling To Find Meaning
February 21, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. I find myself being increasingly drawn into the four part experimental theater entitled Maids. I reviewed the first show last fall [use the search function to find it] and I just returned from having watched, witnessed or participated in the second show, which was held this past weekend.
The production explores a couple of themes, but its texture contains so many dimensions, that I can only begin to give you a sense of them in this review. The stage included the hallways of LaGuardia College, a loading dock and freight elevator, the back stage and the main theater. Having been to the first show in this series, I found myself beginning to get comfortable with the sense of discomfort one feels when we, in the audience, aren't completely anonymous.
Click here to read the rest of our review, including a slide show, of Maids 3:337 at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.
Dance & Theater In LIC Long Island City
Experimental Theater / Maids At LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
Dance Entropy / Green Space At LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
White Box Festival At The Secret Theatre
The Tempest At The Secret Theatre
Three Sisters Vanishing At LaGuardia Performing Arts
The Geometry At The Chocolate Factory
Act V At Secret Theatre
24 Hours At LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
Rioult Dance Company At LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
Figgy Pudding Short Play Fest
Xmas Comedy at Café Marlene in Sunnyside
December 1, 2011 / Sunnyside / Theater in Sunnyside / Queens Buzz. Sofia Geier, founder of the Unity Stage Company, has put together a comedic treat of nine quick one act plays that draw upon holiday traditions, providing cheer by cynically poking fun at people, places and patches out of the spirit of Christmas past ... and present.
I attended one of their dress rehearsals several days prior to opening night. The plays included some sharp turns in the road and a small sag in the middle. But the general production quality, playwrights' humor and professional acting kept me amused for most of the hour and a half the plays ran.
Click here to read more about the Unity Stage Company’s nine one act plays in the Figgy Pudding Play Fest at Café Marlene running Thursday through Sunday, December 1 – 4, beginning at 8 pm.
Inside The Creative Process
John Jasperse Open Rehearsal At Topaz Arts In Woodside
May 2, 2011 / Sunnyside & Woodside / Dance & Theater / Queens Buzz. I visited Topaz Arts in Woodside Monday night, to observe an open rehearsal presented by John Jasperse & Company. Jasperse is a highly regarded contemporary choreographer and dancer. He is the creator of a number of award winning works, the most recent of which is Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking and Flat Out Lies. He is currently working on a new dance to be presented at BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] this fall as part of their Next Wave program. Next Wave showcases innovative dance, theater and music.
The open rehearsal began with Jasperse showing what are essentially draft dance pieces of his new work. There were a number of dancers involved in the project who performed while we watched and listened to the accompanying music on a portable player. As the event was an Open Rehearsal, the dancers weren’t wearing any costumes or outfits, but rather loose athletic clothing, the kind you’d expect to see them wearing while practicing.
Click here to read more about John Jasperse & Company open rehearsal at Topaz Arts in Woodside.
Thalia Theatre Bridges Cultural Divide
Sunnyside / Fall & Winter. I enjoyed a dance performance by the Mestizo Dance Company last Friday evening at the Thalia Theatre in Sunnyside. The show, which runs weekends through December 6th, is a panoply of colorful costumes, music by an accomplished eight piece band, all in support of an impressive performance by a full troupe of talented dancers. All tolled they performed nearly twenty dances from various parts of Latin America which the audience seemed to greatly enjoy.
Click here to view a story about the Best Of The Mestizos at Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside Queens.
Dance & Theater In Sunnyside & Woodside
Six Cylinder Love At Unity Stage Company
Chaos, Community & Culture At Topaz Arts
DANCE & THEATER IN QUEENS
Free Summer Theater In The Park - Free Things To Do In Queens
Free Theatrical Performances / Summer Theater In Queens
This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in Queens this summer, including free theater in Queens parks.
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free summer theater in Queens - Shakespeare in the Park.
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