Covering Battery Park City

Afro-Cuban Family Dance:
The last family dance of the summer season takes place on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Esplanade Plaza, just south of the North Cove Marina. The Oriki Omi Oddara Dance Ensemble will play and lead the dancing. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy has held family dances for over 15 years, according to Abby Ehrlich, director of Parks Programming. Everyone is encouraged to attend, she said — “individuals, small or large groups of friends, and any intergenerational group or family.” Like most Battery Park City Parks Conservancy programs, the dances are free.

Ehrlich compared the Esplanade Plaza to a town square.

“People come to the program to dance as well as to relax on benches overlooking the Hudson River at sunset and hear live music while watching others dance,” said Ehrlich. “It is indeed quite a fun view: five hundred to six hundred people of all ages dancing together, some in folkloric costumes, performing centuries-old traditional dances from far-away places, including the Greek and Swedish circle dances, Mexican promenades, Irish step, or East Indian and West African planting and harvest dances. Even the bluegrass and square dances are old English and Welsh in origin.”

Ehrlich said that when she selects performers, she keeps in mind “how many different places in the world New Yorkers represent and relate to. Each winter I think who hasn’t the Parks Conservancy presented and will that type of dancing be accessible to people of all ages with no dance experience? Then I start looking. The Afro-Cuban Oriki Omi Oddara Dance Ensemble was recommended by a dancer and choreographer from Senegal, West Africa who has performed here. He and Felix Insua — artistic director and lead dancer of Oriki Omi Oddara — taught together at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. Being from Cuba, Felix was trained by Russian ballet masters. His work preserves the richness of African-Cuban dance traditions while contemporary Afro-Cuban culture continues to change. Dancers are accompanied by sacred drum music and songs of Yoruba, Congo, Calabar and other major African cultures. I booked the group in January; then tragically, Felix died in June. His wife, son and many of his professional dance students will perform together without him for the first time here on August 13.”

Brookfield sets up World Financial Center website: With construction on the World Financial Center scheduled to begin in October, the World Financial Center’s owner, Brookfield Properties, has set up a website at www.worldfinancialcenter.com on which the latest construction news will be posted along with comprehensive listings of World Financial Center events and shops. Brookfield has said that its free arts programming will continue through construction, but at the moment, there are no events listed for September or October. Many of the shops currently in the World Financial Center will close at the end of September.

B.P.C. and Hugh Carey:
Officially, the Battery Park City Authority is called the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority. Carey, a former governor of New York State, who died on Sunday, Aug. 7 at the age of 92, is credited with finding investors for the 92 acres of landfill in the Hudson River that, in 1968, had been designated as Battery Park City and getting the development off the ground. During his years as governor, from 1975 to 1982, he persuaded Olympia & York to build the four towers of the World Financial Center that are still the centerpiece of Battery Park City.

“On behalf of all who live, work and visit Battery Park City and the entire Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority staff, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the Carey family,” said William C. Thompon, Jr., chairman of the Battery Park City Authority. “Hugh Carey was a great New Yorker.  His dedication to the people of this state will be felt for generations to come, particularly here in Battery Park City.

“Governor Carey was deeply committed to seeing his idea of a mixed use community become a reality and personally became involved in ensuring Battery Park City’s fiscal viability in a tough real estate environment. Some 30 years later, Battery Park City is a thriving community – home to 14,000 residents, 50,000 workers and millions of visitors. Battery Park City stands as a testament to Governor Carey’s unwavering commitment to New York.”


First Day New York seeks donations:
More than 15 years ago, Battery Park City resident Rosalie Joseph founded First Day New York to help children from New York City’s homeless shelters look forward to their first day of school by providing school supplies, a uniform if needed and their first-day-of-school outfit. “By equipping children-in-need with these essentials, we hope to contribute to the excitement and confidence every child should feel on their first day of school,” Joseph said.

This year, First Day New York will outfit 420 at-risk children. Blackstone and Comedy Central along with individual donors have already made contributions but more donations are needed. Each $25 donation fills a backpack with grade-appropriate supplies. Contributions are tax deductible. Make checks payable to Loisaida, Inc/Stockings With Care. Put “First Day” in the memo and send to Stockings With Care/First Day, PO Box 1222, Bowling Green Station, New York, NY 10274. For more information, go to www.firstdayny.org.

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