Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

Afro Caribbean Workshop today!

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Jorge Arce performs twice today at Lowell National Historical Park.  At 3:00 pm, Arce gives an Afro Caribbean workshop as part of the park’s Kids’ Week activities.  Tis evening at 7:00 p.m., he performs for the Lowell Folklife Series in the Visitor Center theatre.

Expect an interactive experience featuring music, dance, lore, and stories steeped in the African ancestry of Puerto Rican culture. Try your hand with a Puerto Rican percussion instrument. Learn how to move to the beats of bomba and plena. Be surprised by two carnival masqueraders wearing typcial vejigante masks of the season.

 

Free Traditional Irish Dance & Music Performance on June 4

Friday, May 13th, 2011

 

Traditional Irish dance and fiddle music will fill the Merrimack Repertory Theatre on June 4 in a program sponsored by Lowell National Historical Park.

Fiddle player Laurel Martin and step dancers Kieran Jordan and Kevin Doyle are all recipients of 2010 MCC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants. These publically-funded grants allowed these artists to provide a year of one-on-one teaching to talented apprentices Natayla Kay Trudeau, Emerald Rae, and Nicole Leblanc.

This free concert presents a unique opportunity for collaboration, as teachers and students come together to present the results of their apprenticeships and insight into their teaching methods.

Come join us for an exciting evening of solo, duet, and group performances revealing the history and shared languages which these artists express, preserve, and pass on.

Place: Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 E. Merrimack Street, downtown Lowell

Time: 8:00 p.m.

No tickets required. For more details:  click here

Event presented by Lowell National Historical Park and funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Women’s Singing Traditions: African Praise Songs to Irish Ballads

Monday, March 14th, 2011

 

Join us this Saturday evening for a free concert of Irish and African music featuring two remarkable female vocalists — Aoife Clancy and Adjaratou Tapani Demba. This concert will take place on Saturday March 19, 2011 in the sanctuary of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in downtown Lowell.

Aoife Clancy brings a refreshing new voice to traditional Irish songs, ballads, and recitations. Originally from County Tipperary, Ireland, Aoife was brought up in a family steeped in music and poetry, which her father Bobby Clancy passed down to her.  She is a former member of the popular “Cherish the Ladies,” one of the most sought-after Irish American groups in history.  Now with seven recordings under her belt in the last decade, Aoife has clearly established herself as one of the divas of Irish folk music. Accompanying herself on the Irish bodhran (drum), Aoife will be joined by Shannon Heaton on flute and  All-Ireland champion stepdancer Jaclyn O’Riley.

Adjaratou Tapani Demba brings us the West African traditional art of praise singing. In her native Mali, she is known as a djeli – a kind of oral historian, peacemaker, and performer who is born into the responsibility of keeping alive and celebrating the history of the Mandé people of Mali, Guinea, and other West African countries. In addition to concerts, Tapani performs at weddings, baptisms, and other domestic ceremonies within the West African immigrant communities of Boston, New York City, and beyond. She will be accompanied by Balla Kouyaté on balaphon (forerunner of the xylophone) and Moussa Diabaté on ngoni (forerunner of the banjo).

The evening’s singing, music, and dance pay tribute to the rich musical heritage of Lowell’s Irish and African communities. The program is part of the recently launched Lowell Folklife Series sponsored by  Lowell National Historical Park.

Changes Afoot …

Friday, April 16th, 2010

  

As the Folk Arts and Heritage Program begins its 12th year at the Massachusetts Cultural Council, we are excited to tell you about some changes. Through a unique partnership with Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP), state folklorist Maggie Holtzberg has been temporarily assigned to the Park to support the development and expansion of traditional arts programming serving the public. We will continue our work in running a vital state folk arts program — doing field research, maintaining an archive, database, and website, and providing grants to individual artists. This new endeavor is an exciting opportunity to explore cross-cultural understanding within in the context of a National Park based on ethnic heritage, occupational folklore, immigration, and industrial history.  

  

The goal is to engage visitors and more of the region’s immigrant and ethnic populations by offering a robust variety of culturally-relevant public programs at the Park year-round. Though the MCC Folk Arts and Heritage Program has worked with the Lowell Folk Festival for over a decade (providing potential crafts artists and musicians, emceeing on stages, etc.) we will be more actively involved in the planning and presentation of folk arts than ever before. This summer, look for “Folk Craft and Foodways” in Lucy Larcom Park where we will showcase some of the extra-musical aspects of traditional folk culture.

The plan is to build on the energy of the festival — the high-quality, traditional arts performances that are the hallmark of the Lowell Folk Festival — and offer similar experiences throughout the year. Special exhibits and interactive presentations of craft, foodways, performing, and expressive traditions will be developed based on both previous and new folklife field research within the region’s many diverse communities. There is even the possibility of re-establishing a folklife center at the Park.

 Keep your eye on this blog for further postings from Lowell . . .

Welcoming a newborn baby, Djeli style

Monday, March 29th, 2010

 

Baby Sira was born just over one month ago. Her family invited friends and relatives for a celebration at their home in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Her father, Habib Saccoh recently befriended balafon player Balla Kouyaté, who in addition to performing with his band, World Vision, carries on his family’s tradition of performing for domestic ceremonies within the local Mandinka community. (The Mandinka are one of the largest ethnic groups found across much of West Africa.) “Even though Habib is from Sierra Leone,” Balla explains to me,  “he is still of the Mandinka people.” For such a momentous occasion, Habib and his wife, who is American, wanted to celebrate like he would, were he home in Sierra Leone.

Dropping by the all-day party was an opportunity for me to witness the role of a djeli (a.k.a. griot) in the context of his own culture. Djelis are the oral historians, praise singers, and musicians who are born into the responsibility of keeping alive and celebrating the history of the Mandinka people. Balla Kouyaté’s family lineage goes back over 800 years to Balla Faséké, the first of an unbroken line of djelis in the Kouyaté clan. Indeed, his family is regarded as the original praise-singers of the Mandinka people. To have him present at a celebration such as this, is a way of bringing together a community far from home, reminding them where they came from, holding the culture together.

And what a party it was. Although I had parked my car several houses away, I could hear Balla’s music from the street.

 

 

Stepping inside the spacious Victorian foyer, I immediately spotted where the action was. A large parlor room off to the right was alive with colorfully dressed men and women dancing to the music.

  

The music was cranked up really loud and some little people were not pleased.

Servings of African cuisine, fresh fruit, nuts, and beverages were plentiful in the kitchen.

Occasionally, people would offer cash to the musicians, in appreciation of their dance music and praises being offered, which went on for over six hours.

No question, this is a rich cultural heritage in which to grow up.

All photos by Maggie Holtzberg

Transmitting knowledge one apprentice at a time

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Mastering the intricacies of an industrial craft or perfecting the nuances of an ancient music tradition is best taught one-on-one. For those lucky enough to gain the attention of a master, subtle skills are acquired and cultural knowledge is preserved. This week’s Boston Globe shines a light on several master/apprentice pairs who are currently being funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program

Boston Percussive Dance opens

Monday, October 26th, 2009

MCC artist fellow Kieran Jordan and tap dancer Julia Boynton have opened a new dance studio for percussive dance in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is encouraging to see this new generation of dance instructors working with such enthusiasm. Best of luck to you.

NEA Heritage Award Fellows

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Ever since 1982, The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded National Heritage Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Although this year there are no Massachusetts artists in the mix, there have been in the past. Fellows from the Bay State include: Cape Breton fiddler Joe Cormier (1984), tap dancer extraordinaire Jimmy Slyde (1999), Irish American button accordionist Joe Derrane (2004), and folklorist Nancy Sweezy (2006). Be sure to check out their profiles on our online archive.

We have also nominated several other individuals. In fact, if you want to nominate someone, you can by submitting a letter and support materials to the NEA.

MCC Supports the Preservation of Traditional Arts in Massachusetts

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

We are delighted to announce this year’s Apprenticeships. The following five Master Artists will work with their apprentices in a variety of music and craft traditions.

Monotype Typecasting and Letterpress Printing John Kristensen of Firefly Press, Master Artist, and Jesse Marsolais, Apprentice

Piobaireachd, Great Highland Bagpipe Nancy C. Tunnicliffe of Lanesboro, Master Artist, and Sean Humphries of Millville, Apprentice

Mridangam: Carnatic South Indian Drumming Pravin Sitaram of Shrewsbury, Master Artist, and Ullas Rao of Westwood, Apprentice

Cambodian Dance Samnang Hor of Lowell, Master Artist, and Sopaul Hem of Melrose, Apprentice

Tabla: North Indian Drumming Chritstopher Pereji of South Attleboro, Master Artist, and Nisha Purushotham of Roxbury, Apprentice

Apprenticeships are a long-standing method by which an individual learns skills, techniques, and artistry under the guidance of a recognized master. Applicants were reviewed by a panel of experts who evaluate the artistry of the master artist, skill level of the apprentice, rarity of art form, appropriateness of the pairing, and work plan. They are expected to offer a community presentation at the end of the year-long apprenticeship.

“Old-school” visitor comments arrive in the mail

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

A big box of photocopied comment cards arrived in the mail today. Visitors to Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts took the time to scribble down their reactions on printed comment cards. From time to time, we will share them with you here.

A 38-year-old woman from Belmont, MA writes: “I was so impressed by the intricate design and pattern of the baskets. It also reminds me of how ‘green’ cultures were that used these beautiful baskets in farming — reusing natural materials (no ugly plastic bags!)”

One of the cards asked: If you could learn from one of these keepers of tradtition, who would it be? Why? A 64-year-old man from Woodstock, CT answered: “Rob Napier, Newburyport. The man is good and I like the choice of the working boat. It’s the working men laboring unhseen that make the trade great.” And a 12-year-old girl from Canton, MA answered: “The art of tap dancing because it is a way of dancing and making music.”

A 47-year old woman from Shrewsbury wrote: “We enjoyed the entire exhibit, but my son especially enjoyed seeing the Cambodian crafts and dance, as he was adopted in Cambodia and is proud of his cultural heritage.”

And an unidentified person answered the question, Has this exhibition changed your idea of what folk art is? “Yes. I always thought it was boring, but it isn’t.”


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