DanceAfrica 2019

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.

Abdel Salaam | You Me NYCRwanda 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.Dance Africa | You Me NYCAs 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. Dance Africa | You Me NYC

 

Help You Move Out

As I sip my coffee and eat my breakfast, there’s a kid in his mid to late 20s sitting next to me, totally beside himself letting out a random depressing sigh as he’s going through his phone.  I pretend not to notice, however, after a while, it was really starting to get to me.  Now I know when you sit at the counter in a city diner, you are at the mercy of anyone that sits next to you.  As I take another sip, I hear another sigh, as I take another a bite, I hear another sigh.  This is just too much.

“What’s the matter with you,” I asked as I dropped my fork on the plate.  “I got a phone call from my father earlier this morning that really bummed me out,”  he said, as he goes through his phone.  “Oh yeah, so what’s got you all bummed out,” I asked.  “My father lost his job, he called me to let me know that and that he’s not going to be able to pay for my apartment anymore,” said the kid.  “Pay for your apartment, how old are you,”, I asked.  “I’m 26,” said the kid.  “You’re 26 and your father is paying for your apartment, how old is your father,” I asked.  “He just turned 62,” said the kid.  At this point, I am rather aggravated and I  say “C’mon man, your father is probably looking to settle down anyway, where are you living”?  ” I have a one bedroom in Murray Hill,” he said.  “A one bedroom, really, man you have got to be shitting me, do you work,” I asked.  “Yeah at a coffee shop in Soho, that’s how I get by,” he said.  I started laughing looked down and read my paper.

“I am trying to be an actor,” he said.  “Oh yeah and for how long has this pipe dream been going on,” I asked as I continue to read my paper.  “Ever since I can remember,” he said.  “Where you from originally,” I asked.  “Why,” he asked.  “Because you are definitely not from around here.  You would’ve told me to fuck off as soon as I asked ‘What’s wrong with you’.  Besides, I wanna see if this is one of those I am going to move to New York City and become famous types of stories,” I said.  “I’m from Nebraska,” he said.  “Oh, it’s a midwest story, leaving the midwest to come to New York City, the city where dreams are made, whatever that means.  Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around,” I said.  I started to laugh, then I asked, “Are you any good”?  “You wanna see some of my clips, ” he asked.

Just then the server came over and dropped my bill next to my coffee.  I picked up the bill and looked it over.  I look at the server and asked her “Would you be interested in looking at this kid’s clips”?  “Clips,” she asked.  “Yeah, he’s an actor, trying to live the New York City dream, you know, move here from some small town in the midwest and become famous,” I said.   “Sure,” she responded.

The kid goes through his phone, chooses the clips he wants us to see and puts his phone on the counter.  We gather around and start watching his reel.  I glance at his face and he is so proud of his work.  I look at the servers face and she is watching and showing no sign of any emotion or enthusiasm whatsoever.  After about 15 minutes the show was over.  I looked at the server and she looked at me.

“What do you think,” asked the kid.  “Can I bring you anything else,” the server asked me.  “Yeah, bring me this kid’s check,” I said.  The server walks off.  “So what do you think,” again asked the kid.  Before I could say anything the server came back and dropped the kid’s check next to me.  I handed a bill to her and asked, “Does this cover both”?  She smiles “Enough for you too,” I asked.  She smiles and nods, “Good, then keep the rest,” I said.  The server rushes off.  “Damn, she didn’t even tell me what she thought,” said the kid.  “She feels the same way I feel,” I said.  “How do you know,” he asked.  “She and I are born and raised New York, even better, born and raised Brooklyn.  We can read each other’s thoughts just by facial expressions,” I said.  “Really so what did she think,” he asked.  “You suck, I took care of your check so you can save your money and go back to Nebraska.  Go help out your father.  How long have you been trying to do this acting gig anyway,” I asked.  “I don’t suck and for your information, I’ve only been at this acting gig for 4 years.  What do you know and what does she know, she’s a waitress in a broken-down New York City Diner,” he angrily said.  “I know a hell of a lot and I know that you need to go out and get yourself a real job so you can keep that apartment and stop exploiting your old man, you fucking jerk off, ” I said as I gather the rest of my things.  “I don’t need to do any of that, I’ll just talk to my landlord and ask him for some help,” he said.  “The only help your landlord is going to give you is help moving out and if you show him your acting reel, he’ll throw you out you lemon,” I said.

At that moment the kid stormed out of the diner.  A few moments later the server came back.

“So what’s on your agenda today, ” she asked.  “I’ve just been inspired to write an article today,” I said.  “Great, what inspired you?  I hope it wasn’t that kid’s acting because he sucks, he’s terrible,” she said.  “Funny, I told him the same thing and  he told me that he doesn’t,” I said.  “Really,” she exclaimed.  We both had a good laugh and went about our day.