White St. arts groups: Take a walk in our shoes


By Anindita Dasgupta

As residents of Tribeca wander up White St. on Saturday, they will transform into amateur playwrights, dancers and rug and art connoisseurs.

There will be a celebration of the arts June 10 on White St. between West Broadway and Lafayette St. Four local arts groups on White St. have come together to create the first annual Walk on White Street celebration. With a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Battery Dance Company, Blue Coyote Theater Group, Manhattan Children’s Theatre and Soho Photo Gallery have organized a day long event meant to highlight the talents of Tribeca’s own “little Broadway.”

Margaret Coleman, managing director of Battery Dance said, “It’s a wonderful collaboration of players. We get along so well — each respects the opinions of the others. It has just been a wonderful experience to work with four small arts groups with different disciplines.”

White St. is home to multiple arts businesses. Besides the partner organizations in the celebration, The ARChive of Contemporary Music, Flea Theater, and White St. Synagogue for the Arts all contribute to this small-scale arts district. There are also specialty stores on White St. that add to the arts scene, such Double Knot Rug Gallery, which specializes in antique rugs from Persia, Anatolia and Central Asia, or Donzella 20th Century Design, which has an extensive collection of Modern 20th Century Vintage furniture. These groups are among a number of other businesses located on White St. who will play a part in Saturday’s festivities.

Battery Dance, along with the three other organizations, submitted a proposal to L.M.C.C. They received approval for the grant in October 2005 thus creating the Walk on White Street Collaborative. Project Manager Michelle Felicetta said that from the beginning they wanted to create an event that would highlight White St.’s attractions. While the organizations on White St. are offering some special events and discounts for the celebration, Felicetta explained that for the most part the participants are functioning as they normally would. “We didn’t want people to come to the event and leave it thinking “I have to remember to come to this again next year,’” she said. “It’s really about promoting for more than one day.”

Felicetta added that another positive result of the day is creating further bonds among the business owners on White St. She said that the organizations are small and that sometimes without funding and support of other businesses these events are difficult to initiate. However, the planning for Walk on White Street has left them optimistic and there is already discussion about similar events in the future.

This celebration will give the community the opportunity to try their hands (and feet) at some of the arts they enjoy. Some arts organizations will offer instructional classes in their respective fields. Battery Dance will hold dance classes for adults and teens in Afro-Cuban, hip hop, ballet and modern dance in 50 minute sessions between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Individuals further interested in physical activity may enjoy the fitness workshops offered by O-Diesel Fitness Center, where they will hold a class in boxing, and one in Abs and Nutrition. In addition, people from Coyote Theater Group and Access Theater will offer workshops in creative writing, enabling students to create, direct and perform their own dramatic dialogues with Coyote Theater professionals. Soho Photo Gallery has invited guest lecturers such as Suzy Zimmerman, Director of the International Dance Festival, Tracie Stanfiel, International award winning tap dancer, and Jeff Berman, photographer and mixed media artist for Saturday’s festivities as well. Delia Tolz’s “Let Us Tango,” Peter Owings’ “The Practice of Dance” and Joel Morgovsky’s “Modern Dance Reflections” are a few of the exhibits inspired by dance that will also be on view. In addition, Double Knot Rug Gallery will be offering “Learn About Rugs” orientations for walk-in customers.

There will be plenty of free performances on Saturday as well. At 8 p.m., there will be a performance of “The Most Wonderful Love,” by Coyote Theater Group, which is recommended for adult audiences. Manhattan Children’s Theatre will hold two shows of “Little Tales” starting at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The show is based on folk tales from around the world, and incorporates puppetry, masks and will draw in audience participation. The show is recommended for ages 2-6. There will be a Sing-Along-Hour with Erin Lee Kelly from Music Together, following the last performance of “Little Tales.” This program is recommended for families with children ages six and under.

The Flea Theatre is also running a show on Saturday evening at 7 with a special free pre-show cocktail. They will show “Back of Throat,” by acclaimed Arab-American playwright Yussef El Guindo. The show has been produced throughout the U.S. and has won the 2004 Northwest Playwright’s Competition. The play is a dark comedy regarding eroding civil liberties in the U.S. The box office opens at 5 p.m., and tickets are $20.

Other businesses on White St. are offering specials or discounts.

Walk on White Street organizers hope it will be a great way to give New Yorkers a taste of the arts bedrock they are already planning for next year

“We’ve had a really good response from the community in general,” Coleman said. “What tickles me the most is that people who have heard of it [Walk on White St.] have already called up to volunteer.”

Volunteers will hand out free Walk on White St. Passports on Saturday, which will enable people to access many of the free performances and discounts. For more information, call 646-309-2598 or visit walkonwhite.com.

WWW Downtown Express