Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Celebrate Bastille Day at the French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York City

The Fourth of July is over, but not the celebration.  On Sunday, July 14, Bastille Day will be commemorated  in the US with as much pomp and joie de vivre as ever.  It’s a wonderful time to bring out those red, white and blue colors again and add a French twist.

In New York City, the celebration takes center stage at FIAF, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) with entertainment, food and drink, and kids’ programs.

Some of the wonderful events that day include a screening at 5:30pm in FIAF Florence Gould Hall of thedelightful French comedy C’est la vie!, written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the duo behind the award-winning film The Intouchables. The story involves a wedding planner/caterer who must pull off a magnificent wedding in a 17th-century French château while the celebration and his personal life descend into chaos. It’s a hoot, French-style. (In French with English subtitles).

Tickets are a mere $13.

Another entertainment favorite, renowned French singer Gérard Chambre, with Eric Breton at the piano, will perform French songs made memorable by singers like Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and my two personal favorites, Jacques Brel and Johnny Hallyday, whose voices have left their mark on France and the world.  The “Si on chantait l’Amour” program takes place at 3pm in FIAF Florence Gould Hall as well.  And heureusement, it’s free!

If you don’t feel like sitting indoors, there will be entertainment all day long outside, and it’s all free, too.

Taking place from 12:35pm until 5pm, there is a line-up of performers sure to please everyone in your group.

On the Main Stage, at East 60th Street and Park Avenue, the music and dance are non-stop:

12:35pm – Can-Can: Joanna Wronska

12:40pm – Music: Chloé Perrier & French Heart Jazz Band

1:10pm – Music: The Love Show

1:25pm – Feather Dance: Joanna Wronska

1:30pm – Music: The Blue Dahlia

2:15pm – Music: The Love Show

2:30pm – Music: Les P’tites Ouvreuses

3:15pm – Music: The Love Show

3:30pm – Music: Rodeo Joe

4:15pm – Zouk Dance Lesson: Franck Muhel

On 60th Street, you’ll find a range from mime to marching bands:

12:50–4:20pm – Mime with Catherine Gasta

12:50–4:20pm – Live Art with COCOVAN

12:55–5pm – Citroën Car Show

3pm – Hungry March Band

Kids won’t be ignored either. If music and dance isn’t their thing, take them to the “Fly Away with Books Workshops for Kids” from 1-4pm in the FIAF Library Booth in front of FIAF. Here, French illustrators and authors will lead three playful and imaginative workshops designed especially for kids. Starting at 1pm, and appropriate for the youngest in your group (ages 4 and up),  there are three age-appropriate sessions with card games and art.

If you, like me , think France…. and Champagne, rosé and macarons immediately come to mind, you’ll be très contente as well with two indoor food and beverage fêtes.

A Champagne, cocktail and jazz party takes place in two sessions in the afternoon in the FIAF Skyroom, with Champagne from Besserat de Bellefon, Delamotte, Laurent-Perrier, Michel Gonet, and Pol Roger; cocktails from Gioffard; and treats from Jacques Torres Chocolate, Ladurée, and Maman. All this is set to music by The Avalon Jazz Band.  1:30pm-3pm and 3:30pm-5pm

Straddling this event is a “Summer in Provence Tasting”, proving that French rosés are equally as wonderful as those from the North Fork.  Accompanied by a tasting of cheese from Président, charcuterie from Trois Petits Cochons, beer from Kronenbourg, and cocktails by Ricard, you’ll sample wines from Château d’Esclans, Château La Gordonne and Château Miraval.  12-4:30pm in the FIAF Tinker Auditorium.

For the shoppers among you, you’ll love the “Côte d’Azur France Village” marketplace on East 60th Street from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue.  Along these three blocks, you’ll find more than 40 booths with all sorts of French food, culture, travel and other items.  “The French Garden” showcases premium French fashion, accessories, food and travel brands as well as treats from Strasbourg.

Captivated by all the wonders of France?  You can sign up for FIAF membership and French classes while you’re there, too, at a special price. And don’t miss your chance to win a trip to Cannes. You can purchase tickets in advance here, and you don’t have to be present to win.

June 3 Modern Dance Evening Honoring Renee Robinson at the Ailey Citigroup Theater

Victory DanceDo you love modern dance? This special evening at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, Joan Weill Center for Dance, is just your ticket.  At 7pm, on Wednesday June 3 you’ll see a special anniversary performance by the Victory Dance Project honoring legendary Ailey dancer Renee Robinson.

Alvin Ailey is a name synonymous with modern dance. On Wednesday, June 3, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, Joan Weill Center for Dance, will be the home of a special dance presentation and reception honoring Renee Robinson, the last remaining Ailey company member selected by founder Alvin Ailey. The evening celebrates the first anniversary of The Victory Dance Project as well, with a dance presentation choreographed by company director Amy Jordan. “People, Power and Possibility” begins at 7pm with a performance of five works including Big Fun; Human Revolution, a lyrical contemporary ballet in five sections; and the premiere of an excerpt from Thru the Looking Glass. at 405 West 55th Street (near 9th avenue).

Renee Robinson

Renee Robinson

The special evening honors Ms. Robinson’s three-decade career with American Ailey Dance Theater. A legend in dance, she is a graduate of The Ailey School and the only female to have worked under the dance theater’s three artistic directors.  Robinson received the 2012 Dance Magazine Award which honors great artists who have made major contributions to the world of dance.

The Victory Dance Project showcases some of the country’s most exciting dancers. Company members have performed not only with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater but also with Dance Theater of Harlem, Bill T. Jones, National Ballet of Cuba, and on Broadway. Company members are Christopher Jackson, William Penelope Briscoe, Saleem Abdullahi, Florient Cador, DeAndre Cousely, Jessica Israel, Alicia Lundgren, Erin Moore, Karen Niceley, Major Nesby, Ryan Rankine and Danielle Schlauderaff, Maggie Segale, Sharron Lynn Williams and Kara Zacconi.

Amy Jordan

Amy Jordan

Founder and choreographer Amy Jordan is a role model herself. Ms. Jordan turned to dance multiple times to turn around a life marked by complications from diabetes. In addition to creating The Victory Dance Project, she is the founder of Sweet Enuff, a diabetes and obesity prevention program for children. The program focuses on dance and nutrition as a way of life.

Tickets for either the performance only, or both the performance and reception are available at

For a peek at the dance company, click here

Cuban Dance Group Debuts in NYC, February 18-22

HavanaDreaming about Cuba but haven’t quite figured out how to take advantage of the new travel agreements? There’s a wonderful dance group coming to New York City next week to get you prepped.  Havana Rakatan, the hot, sexy Cuban dance show from acclaimed Havana-based Ballet Rakatan will be making its U.S. debut at City Center, 135 West 55th Street, in Manhattan, February 18 – 22. In my opinion, it’s a shot of hot Cuban excitement that will help beat the Arctic blast and melt the mountains of snow forecast for later this week.

This is the first presentation of City Center’s A Bailar: Dance at the Center Latin dance festival which runs from February 18 – March 7. The Festival continues with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s m¡longa, a dance presentation focused on the sultry world of Buenos Aires tango. The final performance is Voces, Suite Flamenca, a new work from flamenco superstar Sara Baras.

The easiest way to get tickets (while staying warm) is at or by calling (212) 581-1212.

Back to Cuba for the moment.  I really encourage you to get your tickets before they’re sold out. Havana Rakatan is a dazzling mix of salsa, mambo, jazz, bolero, son, cha-cha-cha and rumba, accompanied by the eight-piece Cuban son band Turquino, which will perform live onstage.

MilongaThe show presents a high-energy slice of Havana culture that charts the evolution of Cuban music and dance over the country’s 500-year history, from the West African rhythms brought by slaves beginning in the mid-16th century, to the jazz, mambo and bolero of the 1940s, the rumba and cha-cha of the 1970s, and the salsa and son of modern-day Havana. As I heard in both Havana and Trinidad last week, it’s son that brings it all to an exciting finish, combining elements of Spanish guitar and song with African rhythms and percussion. This is the heart of modern Cuban music and dance, and you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience it in New York.

Ballet Rakatan is one of Cuba’s most successful cultural exports. The company was founded by dancer-turned-choreographer Nilda Guerra in 2001 and has since toured throughout the world. Most of the dancers are graduates of the renowned Escuela Nacional de Arte de la Habana, one of Havana’s premier dance schools that offers contemporary dance training mixed with Cuban dance and Latin styles. It’s exciting that they’ve chosen New York City for their U.S. debut.

SaraThe performance schedule is:

Havana Rakatan, February 18-22: Wednesday, February 18 and Thursday, February 19 at 7:30 pm; Friday, February 20 at 8 pm; Saturday, February 21 at 2 and 8 pm; and Sunday, February 22 at 2 and 7 pm.

m¡longa, February 26 – March 22: Thursday, February 26, Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28 at 8 pm; and Sunday, March 1, at 2 pm.

Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras, March 4-7: Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 pm; Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 at 8 pm.

“Forever Tango” and “Let It Be”: Dance and Music Take Broadway by Storm

If you’re looking for straightforward musical or dance immersion on Broadway, there are two shows that you should consider. You won’t need to pay attention to the dialogue, or prep in advance by reading a play synopsis.  These shows are all about music and dance.

First, there’s still time for you to see “Dancing with the Stars’” famous duo Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy in “Forever Tango”. Their fantastic run ends August 18, although the show continues through September 15.  The two are an athletic, gorgeous embodiment of the tango, and it’s pure joy to see these television stars close up.  The other fourteen dancers are pretty spectacular, too, and you’ll start to wonder if you might actually be able to dance like that if you had a great partner to guide you around.  Also in the show through August 18 is the Nicaraguan Grammy Award-winner Luis Enrique. The screams and applause from the audience will let you know his importance in the salsa world, even if you might not be familiar with his name. Luis Fonsi, another Latin Grammy Award-winner, takes over on August 20.  While some of the tango numbers may be less than conventional – including the comedic tango numbers – the quality and attitude of the dance and dancers are impeccable.  You’ll be mesmerized by every flick of the leg, every athletic spin, and the remarkable expressions on each dancer’s face.  The eleven musicians who play the accordions, piano, violin, and other instruments are worthy of a concert by themselves; and the costumes are sexy tango. Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 West 48th Street.
Tickets:, 212-239-6200.

If dance isn’t something you’d like to watch but you’d prefer to do, then “Let It Be” might be more suited to your taste.  Suspend belief for two and a half hours and you can almost imagine that the Beatles are really on stage at the St. James Theater, as the four performers (and one guest director) take the audience through a musical chronicle of the Beatles’ famous hits.  Some of the songs are better performed than others, and you might have a debate amongst yourselves as to which Beatles impersonator is actually the truest, but no matter, you’ll have a fun time twisting and shouting all the way to the finale.  Come early to watch the 1960s television commercials and answer the Beatles trivia questions shown on the monitors.  Throughout the theatrical concert, actual video footage from the Beatles’ travels to New York is interspersed with other shots of the time. St. James Theater, 246 West 44th Street.
Tickets:, 212-239-6200.

Does either of these qualify as theater?  That’s up to you. I enjoyed them both.

Planning a trip to NYC?