Little Island’s Music & Dance Festival 2022 features Musical Masters, Percussive Dance, Generations of Dance, Black Women in Music, and more at Little Island in Hudson River Park off the Meatpacking District, July 20-31, 2022. $25/$45. littleisland.org 🇺🇸🇦🇹🇨🇺🇮🇳🇵🇷🇪🇸
Little Island’s Music & Dance Festival 2022
Little Island’s Music & Dance Festival 2022 taps into multicultural NYC.
It’s a singing, drumming, and dancing example of the motto of the United States, “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one). It’s also a living representation of Sankofa, the West African concept of reaching back to the past to bring forward what is useful. Both ideas are good descriptions of the social experiment called New York City.
Little Island is a stunning park built on a Hudson River pier. There are fun things to do for the entire family and the views are unforgettable (great selfie spot).
The festival is priced so you can bring the entire family. General Admission is $45, but it’s $25 for 25 and younger, or 65 and older. This is just for the festival’s ticketed events in the Amphitheater. There are many free activities, including pop-up performances in the Glade, and lots more at littleisland.org
Little Island makes you feel like a kid again.
Feel Percussive Dance with Brinae Ali, Luke Hickey, Barkha Patel, Max Pollack and Soles of Duende at Little Island in Hudson River Park in the Meatpacking District.
- Friday, July 22, 2022 at 8pm. $25/$45. littleisland.org 🇺🇸🇦🇹🇨🇺🇮🇳🇪🇸
- Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 8pm. $25/$45. littleisland.org 🇺🇸🇦🇹🇨🇺🇮🇳🇪🇸
- Brinae Ali is a Choreographer/Songwriter/Educator/Cultural Strategist @brinaeali
- Luke Hickey is a Tap dancer, choreographer and actor. A “Dance Magazine” 25 to Watch. @luke_hickey_ 🇺🇸
- Barkha Patel is a Kahak dancer (Indian Classical Dance), choreographer and educator. @barkha.kathak 🇮🇳
- Max Pollak is a Viennese tap dancer known for creating Rumba Tap. He is a member of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, who are one of the most iconic traditional Cuban Rumba groups. It’s very cool when someone from one culture, really gets another. @max1poll 🇦🇹🇨🇺
- Soles of Duende is a percussive trio rooted in the rhythms of Tap, Flamenco, & Kathak (Classical Indian) dance. By the way, Flamenco is many things, but its deepest roots reach to the Roma traveling court musicians of Northern India. Flamenco and Kathak is a natural fit. @solesofduende 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇮🇳
Tap dance is an American form, but there is percussive dancing across the Latin world. There is Spanish Flamenco and Fandango, the Malambo dance of Argentine Gauchos, and Mexican Fandango of Veracruz, Mexico’s Caribbean gateway, and the original center of Mexico’s African Diaspora. 🇦🇷🇲🇽🇪🇸
“La Bamba” is a traditional Mexican song that was also the beginning of Latin Rock. Kongo musicians were singing “La Bamba” in Veracruz in the 1600s. The Veracruz authorities told the people you can’t drum. The people answered, we are not drumming, we are just stomping our feet. LOL. Mexican Fandango became Zapateado, a traditional Mexican dance that’s basically Mexican Tap dance. 🇲🇽
See Generations of Dance with Laraine Goodman’s Jazz Tap Playground, Kevin Iega Jeff’s Jubilation! mature dancers performing “Church of Nations,” and Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance high schoolers performing “Unconquered,” at Little Island in Hudson River Park in the West Village.
- Sunday, July 24, 2022 at 8pm. $25/$45. littleisland.org 🇺🇸
- Sunday, July 31, 2022 at 8pm. $25/$45. littleisland.org 🇺🇸
- Laraine Goodman Jazz Tap Playground 🇺🇸
- Kevin Iega Jeff Jubilation! 🇺🇸
- Earl Mosley Diversity of Dance @earlmosley_diversityofdance 🇺🇸
Culture really does pass through the generations. The process starts at home at birth. This is especially important now that social media is standardizing global youth culture, and we have lost a senior generation of cultural guardians to the Covid pandemic.
The perseverance of African Diaspora culture through 500 years of repression is striking. And there is nothing wrong with recreating traditions. That’s the West African concept of Sankofa from the Ashanti people of Ghana. 🇬🇭
Sankofa means that to make future progress, you have to know your past, and there is nothing wrong with reclaiming what would otherwise be lost.
If you don’t know, the “Triumph of the Human Spirit” sculpture in Foley Square looks like a sword, but it’s actually a pictorial representation of the Sankofa pictogram of a bird picking an egg off its back. In this treatment, the egg reaches to the sky. It’s important.
We love traditions, but it’s even more exciting to see what young people are doing now.
The festival is produced under the leadership of some amazing creatives. These artists are forces of nature whose talent, experience, and drive overflows into NYC communities.
Ayodele Casel is a Tap choreographer who the New York Times called one of the “biggest breakout stars of 2019.” Born in The Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, Casel is an NYU Tisch graduate who seems to be everywhere right now and cuts through every boundary put in front of her.
Casel redid the choreography for Broadway’s revival of “Funny Girl,” the story of a vaudeville dancer. She collaborates with Arturo O’Farrill, one of the padrinos (godfathers) of Latin music in NYC. She does commissions for New York City Center. Ayo is young, she is a Latin woman, and she is awesome.
Many artists contribute to the form, but we bet Ayodele is triggering a Tap renaissance. And she is here at Little Island. Many of these artists are her friends and collaborators. @ayolives 🇵🇷
Torya Beard is a festival co-curator. She is a dance and theater director, strategist, choreographer and producer.
In addition to being Ayodele’s managing and creative director, Torya is the Executive Director of A Broaderway Foundation (women’s arts development), a co-director (with Ayodele) of Original Tap House, and co-founder of tall poPpy (theatre social activism). @thatgirltorya 🇺🇸
Michael McElroy is a Grammy and Tony-nominated actor, singer and music director. He was nominated for the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for “Big River” on Broadway in 2004.
McElroy is the founder and director of Broadway Inspirational Voices (BVI), a non-denominational gospel choir of Broadway singers. He teaches Musical Theater at the University of Michigan. @michaelmichaeltheartist 🇺🇸
The Back Story is The Story of US
In traditional cultures around the world, singing, drumming and dancing are expressions of family, faith, community and love.
In New York City, we usually see music and dance on stage in theatrical settings. But in traditional cultures, singing, drumming, and dancing is something we do together with our families, friends and communities at home, in nature, or in a town plaza.
In traditional Indigenous and African Diaspora cultures, this is also how we pray. Everybody sings and dances because you don’t want to leave yourself out.
We start learning the traditions at birth, so they pass down through the generations. And because singing, drumming and dancing are cultural, we tend to become pretty good singers, drummers, and dancers.
We Got the Blues
Most of the popular music and dances of the Americas that we enjoy today came up in the 1800s during the messy process of diverse peoples gaining their freedom all over the world.
Most American popular song and dance traditions originated in African Diaspora communities (Robert Farris Thompson, Yale art historian). Of course, there are European and Indigenous influences, but the main source is usually African Diaspora communities.
Latin Jazz legend Eddie Palmieri explained the process succinctly when describing Latin Music he said, “The Spaniard brought the African. The African put everyone to dance. In the States they took away the drum, and we got the Blues.”
The Blues is the root of American popular music. Taking away the African/Indigenous drum gave us Jazz, Country (yes even Country Music), Swing, Rock, and Hip-Hop. And it all keeps remixing with Latin rhythms, into Bossa Nova, Salsa, Reggaeton, Latin Trap and whatever the kids think up next.
And All That Jazz
American theatre is another blend of many cultures. Broadway song and dance carries on many African Diaspora traditions.
After the U.S. Civil War (1861-65) short form music hall variety shows became the first national entertainment of the United States. That became Vaudeville, which became radio and Broadway, which became movies, which became television, which became MTV, and today is arguably Tik Tok. It’s all short form, often comic, variety entertainment.
Little Island’s Music & Dance Festival taps into all this.
Recent scholarship suggests that American Tap dance was forged down in the Five Points, a rough immigrant neighborhood which is now Columbus Park in Manhattan Chinatown. It was so tough that police from the old station a few blocks north in SoHo were afraid to go there.
It’s being said that Tap dance is a blend of African and Irish Diaspora culture. There may be some truth to that, but Tap genius artist-in-residence Ayodele Casel told the New York Times that she thinks Tap comes mostly from the African Diaspora.
Without diminishing the Irish contribution, we agree. Percussion is pervasive across Mother Africa and the Diaspora, but in Ireland, not so much. Irish Step dance is one thing, but in the Latin and African Diaspora, rhythm and dance are everything.
We only study Latin culture, but have been doing it long enough to realize that there are usually many sources. Before the Colonial Period, human culture was very similar all around the world, and now we are rebalancing. Today, especially in New York City, we can and should be proud of our heritage, all of it.
Dancing With Soul
In the Caribbean we have a tradition of dancing with the saints. The Flamenco concept “duende” is similar. Duende is a contraction of “dueño de la casa” (owner of the house). It’s dancing so well that you own the house (the room).
It’s the trance state of relaxed concentration when a creative artist starts to flow almost effortlessly. Silicon Valley types spend lots of money trying to achieve flow, but you can do it with dance. It is dancing with soul.
On Our Little Island
The contemporary artists at Little Island have mastered and are extending traditions that have been passed down through the generations and mixed together for at least the last 500 years.
At the end of the day, this is all storytelling, and this is our story. It’s very special for all of this to come together on our Little Island.
Little Island’s Music & Dance Festival 2022 Tickets
To learn more about the Music & Dance Festival and all the wonderful culture growing there, visit littleisland.org