Art and culture coming to Evergreen Cemetery in Glendale

By Gabriel Rom

From tap dancing to landscape painting, a wide variety of events devoted to artistic and historic topics will take place at the Evergreens Cemetery in Glendale this spring.

First created in 1849 as a “rural cemetery,” the Evergreens Cemetery was conceived as both a place for burial and a public center— “a museum, arboretum, bird sanctuary, park, historical archive and landmark,” according to cemetery historians Blanche Linden-Ward and David C. Sloane.

Danny Daddario, the cemetery’s current historian, sees the resurgence of cultural events at the cemetery as a testament to its history.

“When my mother was a little girl in the 1930s, she would see people here rehearsing plays, musicians playing banjos, people just strolling along.” Daddario said.

“I want to bring this place back to its original glory, to re-inspire life here,” he added.

On April 16 the Amateur Astronomers Association will hold a stargazing session at the cemetery. The event is free and open to the public. On May 22, the American Tap Dance Foundation will give a special performance in honor of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a world-renowned tap dancer and actor who is buried at the cemetery.

“The only challenge is that people think we’re tap-dancing on people’s graves,” said Tony Waag, artistic executive director of the American Tap Dance Foundation. “And we’re not. We’re dancing on a lawn, people will be bringing their picnic lunches.”

“It’s outdoors, which is tremendous fun. Who knows, this might end up being an annual event,” he added.

Painter Joseph Perez, a teacher at the Rockaway Art Alliance, will be leading art classes April 16, May 21 and June 18.

“Utilizing the beautiful space was intriguing,” he said. “Everything is just nice about an old cemetery. I’m just using the cemetery for things other than what you’d normally use it for.”

Spaces for the classes are limited and cost $25 per class.

Anne Zuerner, a 29-year-old choreographer, will stage a series of dances inside the cemetery, also beginning April 16.

“This is a location pregnant with meaning,” Zuerner told the TimesLedger in September.

“The place is so full of information and so visually stunning that there are many ways to use the space as a frame and I realized I had to use it for something.”

More information for all of the events can be found at www.theevergreenscemetery.com

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