Dancing through Queens this summer

FTHfront_1This summer, Flushing Town Hall will hold a six-part lecture and dance workshop series called Dance in Queens. The programs will explore immigration and the arts in Queens.

The series starts on July 9th, with a Flushing Historical Diversity tour led by Dr. Jack Eichenbaum, followed by subsequent dance workshops featuring Chinese, Mexican, Korean and Indian dance and concluding with a talk-back and tasting event on August 13th.

The series – which you can learn more about at http://bit.ly/1e62Gb3 – was envisioned by Gabrielle Hamilton, a folklorist, and Flushing Town Hall’s Director of Education and Public Programs.

What do you hope people take away from these events?

It would be great if they gain a sense of the scope of the immigraScreen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.45.03 AMnt communities in Queens, an understanding of the roles that immigrants play in the diverse arts scene of NYC, and learn more about Queens’ rich history.

Why is this suitable for Queens?

Queens is one of the few places in New York City where we can still see traditional arts performed, that’s because we are a hub of immigration. Chinese, Korean, Mexican and Indian dance are still regularly performed in neighborhoods throughout Queens. This series gives participants the unique opportunity to learn more about their Queens neighbors and their traditional dance forms, something that you may only see if you are invited to an Indian wedding, for example.

How was this idea conceived?

We have a particularly good roster of dance Teaching Artists at Flushing Town Hall, and they grew up with these dance traditions and were leading artists or principal dancers in troupes in their home countries. That coupled with the fact that we are in Queens, the most diverse county in the country, seemed to be a natural fit for us. Here we can bring them together and root a sense of place with tradition and artistry.

This is different than most programming at Flushing Town Hall.

True! It’s a series and it would be spectacular if people could come to all six sessions. This way they can get a sense of the range of traditional arts that are performed in Queens. What this offers to someone who’s not from those traditions is a window into these communities.

One session, for example, led by Abha Roy, will be a window into the life of someone who is steeped in the Indian community in Queens, is considered a dance guruji, and runs her own Indian dance studio. This is an entry point into not just the dance or the tradition but to the Indian immigrant community experience.

If people go to the first five sessions, I encourage them to attend the last session which will include a talkback and a tasting where they can try foods from each of the cultures that they danced with. It is a great way to gain exposure to a variety of cultures and build community.


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