Dance on the Greenway

2nd annual Dance on the Greenway ©Mark D Phillips

Dance on the Greenway

Red Hook

Red Hook marked the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a festival of site-specific dances created by five diverse choreographers whose works explored the architecture, artifacts, vistas, nooks and crannies of the Erie Basin Park behind IKEA’s Brooklyn store.

The 2nd annual Dance on the Greenway featured works by veteran choreographer and Red Hook resident Shannon Hummel, emerging choreographers Suzanne Beahrs, Rashaun Mitchell (Rashaun Silas Dance), and local Red Hook Brooklyn dance superstars Solomon Goodwin and Kandice Ross. A one mile long waterfront promenade in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the park incorporates historic relics into the design, and the site-specific performance, produced by Dance Theatre Etcetera, utilized much of the park's attributes.

The history of Erie Basin and the Graving Dock date back before the Civil War. The construction of the Erie Basin and adjacent Atlantic Basin, started in the 1850s, made Red Hook one of the most important shipping depots in the world. The Graving Dock, first developed at the location by the Robins Dry Dock Company from 1864-1916, went on to become one of the largest ship building and repair businesses in the country under subsequent owner Todd Shipyards. In 1883, Scientific American described the graving docks at Erie Basin the largest dry docks in the country and possibly the world. During WWII, the Navy took over the southern end of the site and employed nearly 20,000 people repairing and refitting ships. Until Ikea took over the property it was a functioning piece of maritime infrastructure, an active ship repair yard, and the company leasing it employed up to 100 people.

2nd annual Dance on the Greenway ©Mark D Phillips

In 2004, the City of New York approved a plan that allowed for Ikea to demolish all of the historic buildings, fill the graving dock, and clear the entire site to make way for a store and a 1,400-car parking lot. The company hired Landscape architect Lee Weintraub to design one of the largest privately developed public spaces in New York City. Weintraub managed to incorporate giant cranes, bollards, tools, ropes, winches and the former dry dock gates as major elements of the waterfront park. Gentrification can carry a double edged sword. The park is a jewel on the waterfront, but the loss of the Red Hook Graving Dock was a historic blow to the neighborhood.

Erie Basin Park is a part of the evolving Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which when completed, will stretch more than 14 miles from Greenpoint and Williamsburg, through the new Brooklyn Bridge Park to Red Hook, and on to Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. Dance Theatre Etcetera made use of many of the park's structures. Funding for this project has been provided by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation as well the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. This new series is presented in collaboration with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation with special thanks to IKEA New York.

Dance Theatre Etcetera is a noted producer of some of the most interesting and evocative site-specific dance work in New York City such as the award winning production Angels and Accordions which ran for seven years at Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood Cemetery. Relive Angels and Accordions below.

Angels and Accordions - THE FINAL PERFORMANCES

For the past seven years, Greenwood Cemetary has been the unlikely venue for one of New York City's premiere site specific performances, Angels and Accordions.

Angel Eliza Phillips at Annie's Grave during Angels and Accordions at Green-Wood Cemetery. ©Mark D Phillips

The haunting music, song, and movements brought thousands of visitors to walk the shaded paths by such New York luminaries as the Steinways, DeWitt Clinton, Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ebbets, Henry Ward Beecher, and Jean-Michel Basquiat (To Name a VERY FEW).

The angels appear from behind and above the glorious mausoleums, many opened for the only time for visitors to view. The catacombs complete the experience with a below-ground performance by angels inside various crypts reciting names to the haunting echoes of the accordion.

Conceived by Martha Bowers of Dance TheatreEtcetera, the performance has had the support of the Green-Wood Historic Fund for the last six years. The angels perform in different locations on a walking tour of Green-Wood, beginning at the entry gate as "mourners" are greeted by "angels" who join them on their visit to the grounds.

As part of OpenHouseNewYork, the performance has garnered city-wide acclaim. The Municipal Arts Society honored "Angels and Accordions" with a Certificate of Merit at their 2010 annual meeting. MAS Award Committee member Allison Tocci, President & Group Publisher for Time Out Inc., nominated the performance, noting the "thousands of cultural events highlighted by Time Out every year", and singled out Angels as her “President’s Pick” for most outstanding cultural event in New York City.  The award was presented to Martha Bowers, Executive Director of Dance Theatre Etcetera, and Richard J. Moylan, president of Green-Wood Cemetery.


Beyond Brooklyn

Frank Manzi's Magical Mystery Tour at Wayne & Tonja Smith's Magical Backyard Forest in Morganton, NC. ©Mark D Phillips

There’s nothing like a magical night under the stars listening to music. When that experience includes one of my favorite artists appearing in one of my favorite places in the world, it’s at the top of my bucket list.

It all came to be with a simple Facebook post.

50 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon.

On July 20, 1969, humans walked on another world for the first time in history, achieving the goal that President John F. Kennedy had set in 1961, before Americans had even orbited the Earth.