On Saturday, June 12th, the Green Street Arts Center was filled with excitement. The 6th Annual Arts Festival took place and, despite the rain, was a great success. With performances like “Pickles” from the Songwriting class and the debut of “Middletown: Our Town”, an animated video created by the Digital Animation class, the entertainment was energetic, captivating, and certainly inspiring.
Even before entering the building, the festival’s energy was already evident. Teaching artist Anna had a line of eager kids waiting to get their faces painted, the neighborhood ice cream truck was popular as ever, and Frank was busily handing out free popcorn. Upon entering Green Street, you could already smell delicious food provided by our partners at Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar, Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, and Firehouse Steakhouse. Jerry’s Pizza had a table with free pizza that was always surrounded by hungry Arts Fest attendees. Broad Street Books brought a great assortment of arts supplies and books, and DeFabrica Therapeutic Massage was very popular, constantly providing people with refreshing massages.
After satisfying their hunger, guests could choose from a variety of amusements. The African Drumming classes were set up in the Multipurpose Room, providing hours of rhythmic entertainment. Adults and kids alike were invited to do arts and crafts in both the Wet and Dry Arts Rooms. Meanwhile, across the hall in the Performance Studio there was constant action, with breakdancing, musical performances, salsa dancing, animated videos, hip-hop, and more, continuously provided enjoyment for an exuberant audience.
Students in the Breakdancing class staged a breakdance battle to showcase their unbelievable moves. Young musicians displayed their talents in solo performances, as well as collectively in the Songwriting class’s amusing song “Pickles”. The salsa class inspired the audience to move and grove to Latin beats, and the Digital Animation class highlighted their skills with a video called “Middletown: Our Town”. ThoroEnergy also wowed the audience with a dramatic and engaging hip-hop performance.
When Arts Fest ended, attendees left with smiles on their faces, students left with a sense of pride in their accomplishments, and the staff were pleased with the success of the event and happy to have made new friends.
If you are interested in learning more about how your child can get involved in one of these (or other) great classes, call us at (860) 685-7871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on upcoming events and classes, visit our website at www.greenstreetartscenter.org.
Green Street’s Annual Arts Festival is something I, and all of Green Street’s friends, look forward to each year. This year’s Arts Fest will take place on Saturday, June 12 and is sure to be an afternoon filled with creativity, excitement, food, and fun. ArtsFest is a great way for our students to showcase their hard work and successes throughout the year, and for the community to join us and participate in the fun as well.
This year features performances from Fresh Obsessed
breakdancing crew, ThoroEnergy hip hop crew, salsa students, and music classes. I am especially excited for the West African Djembe Orchestra- a diverse group of people ages 7 to 57 from the After School program, adult class, and Cromwell Children’s Home residency program who will be performing together. With the strong lead of teachers Jocelyn and Aaron, the group will rock out the beats of Lamban, Makru, and Yankadi.
For the first time, our outside attractions will include delicious food from partners in our membership program. We are pleased to welcome Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar, Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Jerry’s Pizza, Broad Street Books, and DeFabrica Therapeutic Massage to the festivities.
While enjoying live performances and great food, you will also be able to meander through the building to view the artwork, stop by a classroom for a free mini-class in Salsa or visual arts. You can enter a raffle to win a free Green Street class or even plants from Starlight Gardens in Durham. Don’t miss out on a chance to sign up for Summer classes right on the spot.
In addition to this scintillating array of amusements, mural artist Marela Zacarias will begin painting the new mural, designed by Green Street students, across the street at St. Vincent dePaul’s Place. All community members are welcome and encouraged to help out.
By the way, have I mentioned that all of this is free? It is! I hope to see you there!
Dancing is my life and it is something I really want to pursue as a career path. I started dancing as soon as I could walk. As far as I can remember I always loved watching music videos on TV and listening to music in general. I mainly taught myself how to dance; it must run in the family because my mom loved to dance in her younger days. I enjoyed dancing so much that I thought, “Why not get better by taking some classes?” This is where Green Street came in.
Being at the Green Street Arts Center has helped me with my goal of dancing in many ways. The classes and workshops that I took had hip-hop teachers that were older and more experienced in the “dance world”. I also met choreographers that gave me advice on how to enhance my dancing skills.
In 2007, I decided to start my own dance crew called ThoroEnergy. This
endeavor was a major one and actually helped me get my foot in the door. My crew consisted of about 10 people and is constantly growing and evolving. We’ve definitely come a long way. We have had the opportunity to perform in many places, including talent shows, festivals, parties, schools, and even appeared in a music video. After the great exposure that has come from these opportunities, ThoroEnergy is still standing, and definitely dancing.
In addition to inspiring me to start ThoroEnergy, Green Street has also provided me with a choreography and teaching job, which involves teaching hip-hop to After School students and whoever else is interested. This has been a help because I am getting a lot more publicity with my dancing, and meeting a lot more people who can help me on my way to reaching my goal. I now get called to different places, such as schools and festivals to teach. This has gotten me started on reaching my goal of dancing, but I’m definitely not finished yet. I plan to go to a college for dance, to advance myself and hopefully into the spotlight. I am trying everything it takes to get to where I want to be and I’m not planning on giving up.
The Youth Dance Invitational that I judged was a success. Kids from the North End came down to battle, trying to take a trophy home. I definitely had a good time watching the battles, and was surprised to see some really talented dancers. Hopefully Green Street will be able to host something else like that again.
Rachel recently sat down with b-boy (breakdancer) and Green Street teaching artist Bryan Giles to talk about the upcoming screening of Middletown B-boys and the Youth Dance Invitational.
Q: What is your dancing history?
A: I have been b-boying, exclusively, for the last 15 years. I got into it when I snuck into a party at Wesleyan University when I was 15. I saw it for the first time and it was just something I knew I wanted to do. I had no foresight that it would take me to the places I have been.
The opportunities and honors that b-boying has given me are huge. When I lived in Thailand, I was asked to dance for the queen. I was unable to perform but to be the first American b-boy asked to perform for her was a big honor.
Q: Tell me about Of Shadow and Earth.
A: Of Shadow and Earth is a b-boy crew of 15 active members, and 30 additional members. It’s not only that though; we are a family. We all started together, trained together and sessioned together. It’s great to be a part of a collective mind of people who are willing and looking to support each other, not just in b-boying, but in life as well. The crew began in Middletown and has branched out to include members in other cities and states. Bryan battling a fellow b-boy.
Q: What’s Fresh Obsessed?
A: Fresh Obsessed is a youth b-boy crew of 12 members based out of Green Street Arts Center. It started a few years ago because I wanted my students to know the other side of b-boying; not just the “academic” side of it. I wanted them to experience what it means to be a b-boy and to work and train hard to go to battles. More importantly, I wanted them to learn what it means to be in a crew and how to support each other. For me, I view the team as a great leadership opportunity for the kids. They all have their different strengths, which come through in their training.
Q: What is it like to teach at Green Street Arts Center?
A: Wow. It is such an amazing experience to have. Working with these kids helps me strive to be a better person and to be a positive influence for them, especially when what generally gets shown in hip hop culture is negative and excessively decadent. What I show them is true hip-hop culture, where money and race don’t matter. What does matter is building your own identity within hip-hop.
Some of the members of Fresh Obsessed have displayed such skill that they have gained the attention of members from Of Shadow and Earth and have been asked to battle in to the ranks of the crew. It’s something that I am very proud of and I am happy to give the students this opportunity.
Q: Tell me about filming the documentary Middletown B-Boys.
A: It was started in 2004 and was a fun experience if not a little weird at times. I was not used to having cameras follow me and peer into the intimate moments during practices and at events. It was a good experience for us. We, as a crew, were happy that someone was taking an interest in us and in our culture and wanting to document the work and process that goes into the style. And I think that a lot of people only see the end product, what comes from the time we spend training, and they don’t see what it is we have to go through to get to that point or what sacrifices we have to make. I think the film shares some insight into this.
Q: What is the Youth Dance Invitational?
A: TheYouth Dance Invitational is a kids’ dance battle for ages 8-16. It is meant to encourage dancing and the use of dance as a creative outlet to stay out of trouble. First of all it, is a chance for kids to compete. A lot of kids that are into street dance are not aware that there is a bigger dance scene than what goes on in their neighborhoods or their school dances. Secondly, it is a chance for them to meet and compete against kids in their age groups. And hopefully inspire them to become better dancers. We chose Green Street to host the Invitational because Fresh Obsessed and ThoroEnergy, a local hip hop dance crew, are based here.
Q: Tell me about the day.
A: When the dancers arrive they will sign in and there will be a warm up dance session. Then the judges will showcase their skills before competition begins. There are two competitions, one-on-one b-boy/b-girl and hip hop freestyle dance. All ages will compete against one another. We have a prize package from Losst Unnown for the first and second place winners in each of the two categories and trophies for the first, second, and third prize. We will also have DJ N.E.B who will be on hand to DJ the event. He has over twenty years of experience playing music for these types of competitions.
Thank you to Bryan for sitting down and talking with us. To see him in action be sure to come to the Youth Dance Invitational and the Middletown B-Boys film screening. Here is more info on the two events happening this weekend:
On Friday, filmmaker Bridget Palardy, Wesleyan University Class of ’05, will present Middletown B-Boys, a documentary following two B-Boy crews currently operating in Middletown, Of Shadow and Earth and 4-ONE. According to Palardy, the film “is a portrait of the two crews as they negotiate religion, race, drug abuse, and life in a small city.” Middletown B-Boys recently won an award from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and was officially selected by the Chicago International Hip Hop Film Festival. Following Palardy’s presentation the screening, there will be a cypher, or breakdancing event, between local crews.
The following day will feature a competition between the best local youth dance groups, hosted by ThoroEnergy, Of Shadow and Earth, and Losst Unnown, in partnership with Green Street. ThoroEnergy is a newly formed hip-hop dance troupe featuring several Green Street students and founded by alumnus Eric Quiñones. Prizes will be awarded for the top dancers in a one-on-one b-boy/b-girl battle and hip hop freestyle categories.
Middletown B-Boys: Film Screening and Breakdancing Event
FRIDAY, May 21, 2010 | 7pm
$8 Non-Members; $5 members/students/seniors
Shawn Hill’s extensive web-design experience and creativity continue to expand the imaginations of kids in his animation class and adults who have taken his blogging classes.
After School students love Shawn’s animation class because it allows them to get silly with colors and images while exploring topics that interest them. Walk into class, and you’ll see kids discussing how best to present the topic: “How can we show glaciers melting?”, “What colors will be the most vibrant to combine?” Global Warming was the theme for projects two years ago, after which the students focused on healthy eating. This year, kids are letting their imaginations go wild as they animate science phenomena, vividly demonstrating the splitting of an atom, magnets, the mixing of colors, and electricity. Check out their video about eating healthy: Fruit is Fuel
The After School students in Shawn’s class will debut their exciting videos at Green Street’s Arts Fest on June 12th.
Green Street Community Members also benefit from Shawn’s knowledge of the blogging world. Photographers, painters, individuals concerned with a social issue, or people who want to share their passion and experiences have all gathered for Shawn’s Web-Design and Blogging class. Shawn is especially excited by the blogging world because of the wide range of topics that blogs can cover. One of the most unique topics he has assisted with was for people interested in duck-decoy carving. As an expert in web-design, html, and many other intricate computer languages, Shawn thinks that these techniques are overly complicated for practical, every-day purposes. Even though blogs are not “God’s gift to original aesthetic,” they work well for anyone wishing to share information on the internet. Shawn hopes to continue to share this passion with interested community members this spring in his Blogging & Web Design Class on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30pm.
Submitted by Noah Klein-Markman, Wesleyan University Class of ‘13