Arts, Dance

Red Hook Move It!, by Matt Caprioli


Milteri Tucker, found of Bombazo Dance Company, poses after her performance

Despite the icy wind, over a hundred parents and children traveled to PS 15 on November 14th to celebrate “Red Hook Move It!” a mini-dance festival featuring three creative dance troupes from around New York.

Children ran around with yellow balloons that often entangled with the adult heads roaming above them. It was a joyous environment, even though “stop running!” seemed to be the motto of the evening.

Dance Theatre Etcetera (DTE) organized the event at PS 15, the Patrick F. Daly Magnet School of the Arts, which focuses on an arts education for pre-K to 5th graders. PS 15 is part of a vibrant, and self-propulsive community where past students help current ones. 18-year-old Alexandria Anderson volunteered as an usher, and has been involved with the school for eight years as a Peer Assistant.

After dinner, Bombazo Dance Company (BDC) took the stage. BDC showcases Afro Puerto Rican Bomba with contemporary dance. Men in white shirts beat goatskin drums. Women in red dresses danced. They were led by founder and director Milteri Tucker. Tucker stood in the middle of the two groups and wore red and white, with a Woman Woman stylized star on her torso. After the show, kindergartners ran up to her to feel her dress, and teenagers asked for a picture. She made the dress herself and maintains a line of Bombasa skirts for sale at bombacaribbeanskirts.com.

“Our slogan is making the drum talk because that’s exactly what we do,” Tucker said after the performance. “The dancer becomes the drummer when they interact.”

Tucker started BDC with two other dancers she frequently auditioned with. Since 2008, it’s grown from 3 to 30 members and expanded from the Bronx to performances around New York. BDC continues to incorporate Puerto Ricans with Colombian, Peruvian, and Virgin Islands heritage, and offers more classes to celebrate and teach the unique culture that each member brings.

“Bringing Bomba to Red Hook was an honor,” Tucker said. “That’s what bombasa means, community, and that’s what we’re interested in building.”

Members of Movement of the People Dance Company

Movement of the People were next to perform. The Harlem-based troupe features Afro-Haitian inspired dances. Its a growing and accomplished group whose Artistic Director, Joya Powell, won the the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Bessie Award. According to its website, MOFTP is dedicated to “unearthing historic and present sociocultural issues and addressing them through the healing elements of dance.”

One dancer, Tyrone Bevans, 26, talked about nerves before performing. “You’re never completely ready, but ultimately I’m more excited to perform.”

Bevans, along with two other dancers, wielded a suitcase in a lyrical performance while a violin played.

One innovative program, It’s Showtime, gives street performers and outlet to shop their wares during the winter months. It’s a production of Dancing in the Streets, a city backed organization founded in 1984 and operating from the South Bronx.

Jester “Flexx” Estephane contributed the music and choreography for this enthralling street performance on stage. Estephane, who enjoys the nickname “Flexx” after the street dancing style, started ballroom dancing at 15, then Flex dancing two years later. At 6’2, he’s on the tall side, which can be challenging performing on the subway, “but I think of it as a challenge. How can I utilize my body to do things people don’t think I can do.”

Estephane, like It’s Showtime, incorporates a large range of styles. Estephane wheeled off a dozen styles he enjoys, including popping, gliding, b-boying, and krumping.

As he said, “I’m always looking to add to my palate,”

A meal before the show was provided by Good Shepherd Services (photos by Matt Caprioli)

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