Discover the Meaning of Family in “Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China”

Flushing Town Hall hosts a screening of the documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China on August 4. The film follows three successful black siblings from Harlem as they embark on an emotional journey to trace their family lineage.

Paula Williams Madison and her brothers, Elrick and Howard Williams, start with their Chinese-Jamaican roots, and soon the story of their grandfather’s past begins to unfold. Despite their vastly different upbringings, the siblings find his experience mirrors their own in a variety of ways.

They set their sights on China to discover more about their grandfather and their heritage. Along with 16 family members, they visit two cities, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and their ancestral village, discovering documentation that traces their family back over 3,000 years.

The documentary explores the depth of family, highlighting the joy an

d power it has to unite people from all over the world. Paula and her family’s emotional search demonstrates the power of familial love and devotion to conquer race, time, and distance.

You can purchase tickets here. Tickets are $5/Free for Flushing Town Hall members and New York Hakka Conference participants. Filmmaker and entrepreneur Paula Williams Madison will join the screening with Q&As and her book Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem. Screening starts at 7:30 PM, but come at 6:30 PM to enjoy food and music prepared by C

aribbean Food Delights and VP Records.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens.

This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the “Teen Access Program”, all 13- to 19-year- old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

Full Moon Drumming Workshop & Irish Drumming with Niall O’Leary

This Sunday, August 6, celebrate the full moon with a drum circle led by Niall O’Leary in Flushing Town Hall’s garden. Participants will begin with a workshop, and then jam with the entire group under the full moon.
Niall O’Leary is a former All-Ireland and World Champion Irish dancer, who excels at the top of his profession as a performer, teacher and choreographer, specializing in many forms of Irish Dance: Hardshoe, Softshoe, Traditional and Contemporary Percussive Dance, Sean Nós Dance, and Celtic Tap Improv, a style of dance he has developed himself, improvising using syncopation and rhythmic variation to complement and enhance exciting Irish Dance Music.
Niall is also a multi-instrumentalist: piano-accordion, keyboards, spoon-horn, spoons, bodhran, cojon. He teaches and performs locally and internationally with Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America, as well as with his dance school “The Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance”, and his professional dance company “The Niall O’Leary Irish Dance Troupe”. He was the president of the Irish Business Organization of NY Inc. 2010-2011. Niall was honored in 2004 by Irish America Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Irish-Americans of the Year”, and in 2017 by the Irish Echo newspaper as a “Community Champion”.
Tickets are available here (but hurry, because space is limited to only 20 participants and the last drumming workshop sold out quickly this summer!). To learn more, you can watch this video below, and read our Q&A with Niall.

 

What can an audience expect to experience at your workshop?
In my Irish percussive workshop, we will be exploring how to bring out the many rhythmic patterns inherent in Irish dance music.
What do you hope audiences discover at your workshop?
I hope they discover the magic and beauty of Irish music, and how subtle and complementary percussion patterns can enhance the music!
Tell us about you.
I started doing Irish dance at the age of 4, accordion at 7, spoons at 8, keyboards at 15…I was fortunate to have the same dance teacher, Kevin Massey, who taught, motivated and choreographed for Michael Flately.  
Where did you grow up / where do you live?
I was born and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. My parents are from scenic County Kerry, an area rich in musical and dance heritage, and they were a huge influence in my voyage of discovery of authentic sources of inspiration!
What is on the horizon for you?
I will be teaching weekly dance and music classes all over 
NYC in the Fall, and also doing some concerts in Symphony Space on Broadway, presented by the Irish Arts Center: (Friday December 15, 2017 and Friday March 9, 2018) I will also continue to perform and teach internationally
 

Finding Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons: Flushing Town Hall Hosts Benefit Concert Celebrating Power of the Community

Flushing Town Hall will host a benefit concert on Friday, July 28 to support the continuation of funding for the arts and arts programming. Local community members and artists are taking a stand to emphasize the importance of celebrating global cultures and arts events.

With performances by the New Asia Chamber Music Society and the immensely talented tenor, Dr. William Cai, the concert is a celebration of the intricacies of music from various cultures. The show will bring audience members joy and reinforce the importance of music-making and the arts.

“This is a grassroots effort calling for support from all our community members to financially safeguard our cultural gem in Queens – Flushing Town Hall,” says Tai Wang of the Chinese Cultural Committee of Flushing Town Hall. As co-founder of the Glow Foundation, Mrs. Wang aspires “to help Flushing Town Hall further its mission with this unprecedented initiative.”

In addition to the New Asia Chamber Music Society, special guest Dr. William Cai will also perform. Selected from the many heartfelt applications from talented performers, Dr. William Cai is a Chinese acupuncturist by day who has treated celebrities from Spike Lee to Kathleen Turner, curing pain-related illness and vocal disease.

He has also become known for his Qigong Bel Cando, a singing technique that combines his training in Chinese body exercise with his learnings from legends, such as Luciano Pavarotti. Praised for his brilliant and bright tone, Dr. Cai’s solid, dramatic, and operatic voice carries Qi and medical science of the art into the world.

A tribute to his talent, Dr. Cai is slated to perform in December at the Shanghai Grand Theatre with Mr. Wei Song, the most prestigious tenor in China. Audiences will not want to miss his Flushing Town Hall debut on July 28.

In addition to the astonishing opera aria, the audience will be entertained by a robust selection of classical music from the West and the East. Led by New Asia Chamber Music Society, the concert will showcase talents who are skilled with violin, viola, cello, piano, daegun, erhu pipa, and guzheng.

“Now more than ever, we need to stand together to protect Flushing Town Hall,” says Minwen Yang, an arts advocate and honorary chair of the Chinese Cultural Committee. “We are proud to say that this initiative is an inspiration, not a competition, that truly brings people of all background together.”

The concert starts at 7 P.M. Tickets are $10/$30 and there are also sponsorship packages available. To purchase tickets, visit www.flushingtownhall.org. For more information on sponsorship packages, contact mliu@flushingtownhall.org.

Are you ready for “a “marvelous concoction of friendship, invention, and adventure”?

For more than 15 years, Bonnie Duncan has blended puppetry, dance, and physical theatre in surprising and delightful ways.  Her work has been described as “an artful world of silent dreams, mime, and dance.” This summer, she will return to Flushing Town Hall with an amazing presentation, “Lollipops for Breakfast,” with the Gottabees on July 30.

Now, we know you can’t have lollipops for breakfast!  But in this presentation, Sylvie decides she’s going to break that rule, even if it means she has to make her own amazingly perfect lollipop from scratch. The audience is invited to come along as she and her trusty pet bird search for missing ingredients, wrestle with giant candy machines, and get lost in a magical pop-up cookbook.

Tickets are available for two shows that day – at 11 AM AND 2 PM – and can be purchased here.

What can an audience expect to experience at your performances?

Lollipops for Breakfast is a “marvelous concoction of friendship, invention, and adventure” comprised of puppetry, physical theater, live music, and a tiny bit of acrobatics.  We aim to capture our audience’s collective imagination and take them on a journey together.  We can be furiously silly and then profoundly grounded all within five or six minutes.  We love surprising our audience with twists and turns in the story and visual changes to the world created on stage.

Tell us about you – how you started as a performer?

I started performing as a child — my dance school had an outreach program where we performed in nursing homes and other community organizations.  I was smitten with sharing joy from stage!  I continued to study dance, focused on theater in college, and then found puppetry on my own after that.  I was a company member of a modern dance company in Boston for 8 years—we collaboratively created and performed sculptural dance theater.  We toured nationally and  internationally.  All the while I was working in puppetry with friends and making solo pieces.  So, basically, I followed my interests and ended up here as The Gottabees!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in South Carolina and now live in Boston.  Brendan Burns & Tony Leva (the musicians) both grew up in upstate New York (Fredonia & Binghampton respectively).  My husband, who also directed and co-wrote Lollipops for Breakfast, Dan Milstein, grew up in Princeton, NJ and grew up seeing lots of shows in New York with his parents, who are avid modern dance and theater fans.

What do you hope audiences discoverat one of your events?

The Gottabees has a “Terms of Service” that sums up our greatest hope: We find it deeply satisfying to create original physical theater so families can do something fun together that allows them all to giggle, gasp, sigh, and cheer in 45 minutes or less.   One of the things that makes us happiest is when we meet children who have seen a show and parents tell us how their child acted out the entire show for weeks after seeing it.  This is the core reason why we make theater for young audiences:  The Gottabees want children to know in their hearts that they, too, can make theater wherever they are and whomever they are.

What does Flushing Town Hall mean to you?

When we performed at Flushing Town Hall last year, we were so impressed and thrilled by how much this beautiful space felt so open and available to the entire local community and felt so lucky to be part of the fabric of this organization.

What is on the horizon for you?

When we arrive at Flushing Town Hall, we will have just returned from a pretty big driving tour—-Boston to Detroit to St. Paul, MN to Morristown, NJ!  In August we head up to Maine for a week (which is combo tour / vacation!).

We are also working on a new show for families that we hope will premiere in 2018.  We began development last year and just returned from a residency at Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Puppetry Conference where we explored some of our central themes and tested ideas on fresh audiences.  We’ll continue working on it at a residency at The Yard, on Martha’s Vineyard in July and then in Boston after that.  Themes, visuals, and sounds are Top Secret so stay tuned!

(You can read more about Bonnie is this wonderful NY Times article, too!), and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too! And you can check out a preview of the show below!

 

Draw live, nude models at Flushing Town Hall this summer!

Mixed media artist Steve Palermo has been a Teaching Artist at Flushing Town Hall since 2012, and at the Poppenhusen Institute since 2013. In addition to creating and facilitating mixed media and painting workshops for young people, adult groups, and senior centers, he has been requested to assist other teaching artists at Flushing Town Hall for the past several years.

This summer, Steve will be leading two Figure Drawing workshops with live, nude models. Bring your sketch pad with your favorite drawing medium. Each artist will have the opportunity to hone their skills with a series of quick and long poses while listening to music in a relaxing non-judgmental environment.

(Refreshments and snacks are available to get your creative juices flowing. Age Requirement: 20 and over. You can reserve your spot on July 10 here or on August 14 here.)

What can participants expect to experience?

This is a first for Flushing Town Hall as far as I know… The two drawing sessions will give the participant the opportunity to draw from a live nude model. The first session on July 10th there will be a male model, and the second, on August 14th there will be a female model. The model will start with quick gesture poses to allow the participant to limber up and free themselves from any apprehensions and then the model will take longer poses. If their confidence is still amiss there will be music played during the session and refreshments at the concession table to help them relax.

Tell us how you started in this field.

A little about myself: I am an artist. I have exhibited my art in galleries in New York City as well as abroad. I also work at Flushing Town Hall as the Volunteer Coordinator.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Queens and still live here. It is a wonderfully diverse place for an artist to create experiences to use for their creative endeavors.

What do you hope your participants discover at your workshops?

I hope that they take away that there is no fear to draw from a model and they had a good time at the session.

What is on the horizon for you?

I will be having a solo art show at Flushing Town Hall. The title of the art show is “Gods, Beasts and Men”. It is a series of paper collages dealing with humanity, religion and mythology. The opening is December 1st, 2017 (time TBD).

Full Moon Drumming Workshop: African Drumming with Vado Diomande On Sunday, July 9

On Sunday, July 9, we will celebrate the Full Moon with a drum circle in our garden, beginning with a workshop led by master drummer Vado Diomande and then a group jam under a full moon.

All are welcome from beginner to professional, so reserve your drum spot here.

Vado has been dancing and drumming since he was a toddler in his native village of Toufinga, Ivory Coast. The drums are the heart of village life, and he learned to play them, repair them, and make them. He then went on to become a principal dancer at the National Ballet of Ivory Coast, where he learned drum and dance traditions from over 60 ethnic groups, which he shares with New Yorkers through teaching, performing, and presenting his dance company, Kotchegna Dance Company.

Vado and KDC produce an annual spectacle, Kekene, in October, that showcases the dynamic musical and theatrical traditions of Ivory Coast through village narratives and a huge company of dancers and guest artists. This year Kekene XI will be Sunday October 22 at the Citigroup Theater at Alvin Ailey Dance, 405 West 55th St in Manhattan.

Vado wants New Yorkers to understand the beauty of the intricate and syncopated rhythms that make up exciting djembe drumming in West Africa. Drumming from Ivory Coast has many beautiful rhythms such as Temate, Zaouly, and Katana.The djembe makes three sounds that are used in lead and accompaniment rhythms, supported by the three bass drum sounds make by the doundoun drums, played with sticks. The doundoun drum has three parts: songba, kinkine, and doundoun. These go with the djembe playing.

Anyone can enjoy playing West African drums, either the hand-played lead drum, (djembe), or the bass drum, (doundoun), with sticks. The company has a female doundoun player, and women playing doundouns is a beloved tradition in Senegal.

Flushing Town Hall is an incredible artistic resource for Queens and New York City. The dedicated support of traditional artists is unusual and very touching to artists like Vado, who have to work very hard to be known and seen. Flushing Town Hall showcases the riches of the world’s cultures, and Vado is very happy to be a part of this beautiful artistic endeavor.

Flushing Town Hall Presents Captivating Children’s Show Lollipops for Breakfast on July 30

Flushing Town Hall is delighted to have Bonnie Duncan and The Gottabees share their journey to create the perfect breakfast treat in Lollipops for Breakfast on July 30. The show is led by a creative and fearless female character, and the creators hope to inspire their audience to go on their own lollipop adventure.

Lollipops for Breakfast tells the tale of Sylvie and her pet bird sidekick on their journey to make the perfect lollipop for breakfast. The story follows them in their search for missing ingredients, giant candy machines, and more! In the story that the New England Theatre Geek calls “captivating and enchanting,” Bonnie Duncan and The Gottabees explore themes of friendship, failure and success – all without words –ideal for young English language learners. With original music, puppetry and even a tiny bit of acrobatics, kids are sure to love Sylvie’s quest for her perfect lollipop.

There are two opportunities to see this whimsical show on July 30, with presentations at 11 AM and 2 PM. Tickets are $13/$10 for members, $8 for children, and $6 for child members. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.flushingtownhall.org or by calling (718) 463-7700 x222.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens.

This season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for FREE. Under the “Teen Access

Program”, all 13- to 19-year- old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

 

This month’s Open Mic topic is… Country!

 

Hosted by poet, storyteller and nationally known multicultural motivational speaker Bobby González, Open Mic is for poets, storytellers, free style rappers, and emerging artists of all ages. Themes are suggested to inspire, but poems and stories performed need not follow the suggested theme.

And on Thursday, July 6, the topic is: Country. Join us from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at this free event (you can get more details here). No RSVPs are required. (And he will host two other Open Mics on August 3rd and September 7th (all with free admission).

Born and raised in the South Bronx, New York City, Bobby grew up in a bicultural environment. Bobby draws on his Native American (Taino) and Latino (Puerto Rican) roots to offer a unique repertoire of discourses, readings and performances that celebrates his indigenous heritage.  Bobby has lectured at many institutions including Yale University, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of Mississippi.

As a storyteller he’s had the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Television & Radio and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He has given poetry readings at the National Museum of the American Indian, the University of North Dakota and the Nuyorican Poets Café.  He is the author of several books including “The Last Puerto Rican Indian: a Collection of Dangerous Poetry” and “TAINO ZEN.”

What can an audience expect to experience at Open Mic?

They can expect to hear stories. poetry or multicultural lecture encouraging the audience to embrace the diversity in themselves and in others.

Tell us about you – how you started.

I have been an activist in the Native American Community for over 25 years and this activism brought out the performance artist in me and has taken me all over the country.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the South Bronx and still live there proudly and happily.

What do you hope audiences discover at an Open Mic?

It is my hope that when an audience attends one of my events they will realize that our differences make life more wonderful and interesting.

What does Flushing Town Hall mean to you?

Flushing Town Hall is my second family. The staff and the audiences embrace me with their love, and I reciprocate enthusiastically.

What is on the horizon for you?

I am very busy organizing the annual Bronx Native American Festival which will take place on Sunday, September 24 at Pelham Bay Park.

Thank you to our school partners!

Students from PS303 CASA, instructed by FTH Teaching Artist Songhee Lee, perform Buchae Chum, Korean Fan Dance at Flushing Town Hall.

By Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Director of Education and Public Programs

School’s out for summer! As elated students bolt from school buildings, we want to take a minute to share some of the highlights of our rewarding arts partnerships with schools throughout the city:

• English Language Learners from ten different countries performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Flushing Town Hall’s stage for three outstanding performances.
• Having students shout out their song requests to the Sierra Leone All-Star Refugees during our school performance series at Flushing Town Hall.
• The thrilled parents from JHS 189 who waited for their children with flowers and balloons after stellar student productions of Mulan Jr.
• The concentration and precision of Korean dance students (who are just seven and eight years old!) from PS 303 C.A.S.A.
• The emotional parents who danced with their children and the professionals from Calpulli Mexican Dance Company at the Flushing Town Hall Gala while wearing the dance skirts that their children made during the I.S. 61 art residency!
• The beaming smiles of Forest Hills High School students after completing their dance residency and learning the program will continue next year.
• First and second graders from PS 214 “feeding” the Chinese lion dancers as they jumped for joy.

These are just a few examples of the jubilant power of an arts education. During this past school year, more than 10,000 students enjoyed our residencies, C.A.S.A. performances, exhibitions, and workshops, which celebrated our diverse community while providing meaningful connections between classroom subject areas and the arts. Students gained an understanding of the cultural context of our diverse Queens community while they explored careers in the arts and develop as lifelong learners of the arts.

The value of a rich arts education was explained best I.S. 61’s dance teacher Cheryl Singer-Galzur:

“Seeing these ladies gain confidence, and feel their own value at the end of the performance is really why I love being a dance teacher. This journey cannot be taught in a conventional classroom, but through experiences like the this (trying a new art form, making mistakes, making progress, taking direction, getting confidence to question, taking charge, practicing, helping your fellow dancers, performing, then realizing the impact you have on others). Working with you, Flushing Town Hall, and Calpulli [Mexican Dance] has been one of the best experiences of my career as a dancer and educator because of moments like this. Thank you for all you have done.”

And thanks, in turn, to all of our school partners who made this year in arts education one of our best years yet! We wish all of our school partners a safe and relaxing summer!