On Leap Day, Feb. 29, which only comes every four years, Queens Council on the Arts will present a special Leap Year performance of works by exceptional emerging and established, community-based choreographers at Queens Theatre in the Park.
Curated by QCA in conjunction with Topaz Arts, Inc., this performance will feature an exciting array of cultural traditions, backgrounds, and choreographic styles, celebrating the vibrant dance community of Queens.
Six companies will perform in the Leap Festival. These include the esteemed traditional ensembles Dance Theater of Nepal, Father Billini Ballet Folklorico and Korean Traditional Music Institute of NY as well as innovative modern companies Syren, Jordan Fuchs, and Gus Solomons Jr.’s Paradigm Dance.
Dance Theater of Nepal is a company devoted to the production, presentation and preservation of Nepali traditional performing arts in America and abroad. Under the leadership of director Raj Kapoor who, himself, has danced, choreographed and taught Nepali dance and music in more than 23 countries worldwide, DTON brings three short pieces to the Leap Festival, including “Tamang Selo,” a flirtatious courting dance from the farming villages of the Tamang peoples of highland Nepal.
Father Billini Ballet Folklorico, a distinguished youth ensemble from Corona, will delight the audience with a traditional Merengue dance with the special bonus that they will be accompanied by live Merengue Tipico musicians.
Merengue Tipico is a traditional Merengue music form from the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic, which further fuels the rhythmic qualities of the dance.
The Korean Traditional Music Institute of New York strives to preserve, cultivate, and disseminate Korean cultural arts in the United States. Among the three pieces they perform will be “P’uchae Choom” (Floral Fan Dance), from the 18th century, which centers around the fan as a symbol of prosperity and power to be used against evil. This piece involves graceful music and many brilliant colors to place the viewer virtually inside a flower garden.
The Leap Festival will feature three contemporary dance companies, which represent an exciting array of choreographic styles. The Paradigm Dance Company, which has a sytated goal of promoting and celebrating the talents of mature artists on stage, will perform the original work “Gray Study,” an exploration of movement and manipulation of stylish gray overcoats.
The combined resumés of this trio of distiguished dancers include Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham, and others.
A graduate of Ohio State University and resident of Jackson Heights, Jordan Fuchs and his company are fast-becoming known in the New York downtown dance scene for their “fierce dancers in killer dances” (danceinsider.com). They come to the Leap Festival with “To Scatter,” an athletic piece for six dancers with a commissioned jazz score, marrying the elements of jazz with modern dance.
The program also features Syren, a promising emerging modern dance company whose performers hail from Astoria. Their piece, “The Weight,” explores the expectations, societal views, and personal emotions regarding commitment, engagement, and marriage, using fluid, more formal modern dance choreography set to classical music for six dancers.
These three groups were carefully chosen for the Leap Festival because of their impressive levels of experience, varying genres of music and choreography, and overall diversity.
Co-curator Paz Tanjuaquio of Topaz Arts said, “We’re mixing it up with traditional dances from around the world and contemporary dances made right here in Queens and New York City.”
This event is sponsored, in part, by Commerce Bank. Programs of the Queens Council on the Arts are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Contemporary works for the Leap Festival are curated by Topaz Arts, Inc. Topaz Arts is a multidisciplinary arts space in Woodside which serves as a collaborative space for dance, audio, and visual arts, offering an urban retreat for artists to explore, rehearse, and show artistic works for the community.
Queens Council on the Arts is a non-profit organization devoted to supporting, promoting and developing the arts in Queens County. QCA’s mission is to assist arts organizations and individual artists, and to share the borough’s diverse cultural resources with all Queens residents, as well as residents and visitors throughout New York City.
The Leap Queens Dance Festival will be held Sunday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. at Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. (Accessible by 7 train to Shea Stadium. Transportation will be provided between the subway and theatre before and after the performance). For tickets, call 718-760-0686.