The DanceAfrica festival this year was absolutely fantastic as usual. I expect nothing less from the largest festival dedicated to African Dance and music, returning for its 42nd year. In case you don’t know, the festival takes place at BAM(Brooklyn Academy of Music). I arrived just in time to get to my seat to watch each performance, one more amazing than the next.
Rwanda Reborn: The Remix is the title of this year’s DanceAfrica performance. Under the leadership of artistic director Baba Abdel R. Salaam(pictured to the left, courtesy of BAM), this presentation acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This production offers a moment to celebrate the path forward towards reconciliation and renewal of the devastating travesty(more than 1 million people killed within 100 days) that occurred 25 years ago in Rwanda.
Rwanda Reborn: The Remix was performed through traditional and contemporary dance, music, along with theater and spoken word. The program demonstrates a perfect example of linking classic and modern techniques together to convey a tribute to all the lives that have been affected by past tragic events in Rwandan history. I enjoyed every moment of this incredible theatrical arrangement.As the show comes to a close, I exit the theater quickly. My usual constitution is to walk down Lafayette Ave. through the heart of the festival. Making my way through the crowd recognizing the usual faces and vendors, I also see a lot of new faces, shopping, eating, vending and enjoying as well. All the vendors lining the street with beautiful and exotic merchandise for sale are such a welcome site. The smell of food fills the air with a delicious aroma rivaling the already well-known restaurants in the area.
This is what I love about this festival. In an area of disappearing culture due to forced gentrification constraints, it is great to see that this festival is still a staple in this community. It brings an experience that all Brooklyn natives in the community as well as newcomers have enjoyed and took part in for years.
Anthony Bourdain, host of the popular CNN series “Parts Unknown” left the world with a final and permanent sign-off June 8th 2018. I absolutely loved his show and the fact that he brought us all a little closer to each other just by sharing a meal. Anthony really showed us how much we all have in common through all the culture, diversity and cuisines he brought to us no matter where his location.
Bourdain was larger-than-life, an amazing chef and a fantastic storyteller. The news of his death shocked the world and according to CNN, the most common sentiment was “I feel like I’ve lost a friend”. I personally felt connected to Anthony, through his extraordinary way with words, his gutsy on-scene locations, and his edgy character.
His article in “The New Yorker” back in 1999 spoke volumes and I can definitely relate to it. The article titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” was about the secrets of working in a restaurant’s kitchen. “In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family”, Bourdain wrote. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a bad past. I worked in a few restaurants, starting in the kitchen as a dishwasher and moved through the stations. I can definitely say that I have come across some shady characters.
Now I love food and the relationships it brings to the table. Anthony’s work is incredible and plays a huge influence on my writing as well. I am sure that I can speak for all of my readers and pretty much everyone else. Anthony is sharing a meal in some part unknown to all of us and telling some amazing story.
We will miss you Anthony, your work will not be forgotten.
Queens, a misunderstood borough, mostly because people just pretty much know this borough for three reasons, LaGuardia airport, JFK airport and Citi Field(home of the “Mets”). However, what most people don’t know, is that the borough of Queens is named after an actual queen. Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Branganza who was the wife of King Charles the II. Catherine was born in Portugal and she was wed to Charles back when the British colony was established in New York.
Astoria Queens is the home of one of the world’s finest pianos. Steinway and Sons, one of the most if not the most famous piano manufacturers calls its home there, for the past 100 years. The first grand and upright pianos were crafted in Astoria back in 1853. Tours are given all the time at this astonishing facility.
Famed music performers the “Ramones”, first started to rehearse in a small studio in the basement of Joey’s mom’s art gallery in Flusing. A few other music legends that also lived in Queens are John Williams, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley from the band “Kiss”. Cyndi Lauper, Daniel “Dee” Snider, along with rappers and Hip Hop performers, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nas, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J, and Run DMC, were residents as well. Jazz legend Louis Armstrong called Queens home up to his last days, his house is now a museum.
With over 2 million residents, Queens is the most diverse borough out of its’ rival boroughs. If Queens were to secede from New York City and go back to being an individual city before it joined New York City, it would be the 5th largest city in the United States. Queens has about 400,000 less people than Chicago. With that being said, Queens is more than just the borough that houses two of the top ten worst but not the worst airports in the country and home to the “Mets”, Queens has a very rich and dynamic demographic and quite a bit of history that was barely touched in this article. Get out and enjoy Queens for a change maybe go to a Mets game or one of the numerous museums as well.