Mark your calendar for two popular outdoor festivals coming to lower Manhattan and Queens in August, with free offerings of culture and dance.
In celebration of the 60th year of independence of the island nations of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Braata Productions – named for the Jamaican colloquial term meaning “more” and dedicated to giving Caribbean and Caribbean-American artists a platform through which to showcase their work and talents – presents the Bankra Caribbean Culture Festival on Saturday, August 6, from noon-8 pm, on the lawn of the York Performing Arts Center (94-45 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.) in Queens.
The name “Bankra” is derived from a large woven basket made of materials indigenous to the Caribbean islands, used to carry an array of food and cultural items in Jamaica. The Festival, an annual staple in the community, promises a day of fun and entertainment for all ages, as they experience the traditional folk culture of the islands and sample their unique authentic cuisines. It provides nostalgia for those who grew up with it, learning opportunities for others who had no knowledge of it, and helps re-establish the importance and relevance of folk culture as a vibrant contributor to the Caribbean identity.
“The Caribbean community has so much to offer and this Folk Festival is a unique opportunity to showcase our rich and diverse cultural heritage with the residents of the borough and its environs,” said founding actor and singer Andrew Clarke. “We look forward to the support of the Queens community and the wider New York Tri-State area to ensure the Festival’s success.”
There are three major components to the Festival, presenting a full sensory experience of traditional music, dance, crafts, and food: the Stalls/Island baskets; cultural performances; and a cultural pop-up display. The Braata Folk Singers headline an impressive line-up of celebrated cultural groups, including JC Lodge (Jamaica), Marva Newton (Trinidad and Tobago), and the Carnyval Dancers (Trinidad and Tobago). The Festival will also feature drumming circles, folk dances, and a play-zone, where the young and young at heart can play traditional Caribbean games. The event is free, but donations are accepted.
This year, Battery Dance celebrates the 41st anniversary of its free outdoor summer festival from August 13-20, in partnership with Battery Park City Authority. The 41st Annual Battery Dance Festival will feature in-person and live-streamed performances staged at Wagner Park in Battery Park City, Manhattan, from August 13-19, starting at 7-9 pm nightly. Reaching both local and international audiences, the week-long event – NYC’s longest-running free public dance festival, established by Battery Dance as the Downtown Dance Festival in 1982 – promotes the company’s missions of engaging with its home community of lower Manhattan and connecting the world through dance.
“Lady Liberty might be tempted to shimmy and shake as dance companies from near and far take the stage at Wagner Park once again this summer. Audiences will have a tough time deciding which performance to attend. So I have a suggestion: keep your entire week free so you don’t miss a single one of the great performances that our curators have selected for your delectation!” said Battery Dance founder Jonathan Hollander.
Following the outdoor Festival, a ticketed closing night event and VIP reception will be held indoors on Saturday, August 20, from 6-8 pm, at The Schimmel Center at Pace University (priced at $10-75; masks and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required).
The line-up is as follows:
August 13: Young Voices in Dance, celebrating the next generation of choreographers, featuring Sydney Burtis, Zachary Seto, Camryn and Courtney Spero, Kate Louissaint, Lerato Ragontse, Anya Susan, Myles King, and Shannon Harkins;
August 14: Dancing Wheels Company, Ballet Nepantla, Linotip, Gaudanse, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, and The Vanaver Caravan;
August 15: India Independence Day, artists TBA;
August 16: Christina Carminucci, Linotip, Fairul Zahid & Lasalle Dance Singapore, Buglisi Dance Theatre, and Boca Tuya/Omar Roman de Jesus;
August 17: Xing Dance Theater, Julienne Doko, Tati Nuñez, Dos Proposiciones Dance Theatre, Ntrinsik Movement, Ballet Inc., and Alison Chase/Performance;
August 18: Demi Remick & Dancers, Floyd McLean Jr., Battery Dance Company, TeaTime Company, Fairul Zahid & Lasalle Dance Singapore, and Tina Croll + Company;
August 19: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, LaneCoArts, Dos Proposiciones Dance Theatre, i KADA Contemporary Dance Company, Battery Dance Company, and Compagnie Virginie Brunelle;
August 20: Closing night and VIP reception (reservations required), Boca Tuya/Omar Roman de Jesus, Battery Dance Company, Julienne Doko, TeaTime Company, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Compagnie Virginie Brunelle.
For more information about the Festival, go online. You can watch a preview here: