My vision: it’s not only about the arts; it’s about the experience (August 19 – August 25, 2011)


Dear Friends,

What’s good? The number 14 is lucky for me so I declare that this is going to be a good week. I feel it. What will you attend this upcoming week? I love getting your thoughts, reviews, events for the list, etc., so keep sending me emails! Also, I’ve hit 700 subscribers and my goal for the summer was 1,000. Continue to spread the word, deeply and widely!

So…as you’ve probably figured out, I’ve been going to a lot of art, silently analyzing each of the concerts, performances, openings, etc. And I’ve had a realization this summer: while the artist/offering is usually what drives me (us) to attend, it’s usually not only about the art: it’s about the total experience. Isn’t it more fun to experience music with someone else? If the seats are uncomfortable at a stuffy dance performance hall, isn’t the event a little less enjoyable?

When I think about the direction of this list, this observation totally makes sense. I started Ariana’s List four years ago to find company to go with me to events like these. I wanted to share the experience. On a blanket. In the open air. Over a picnic. And beer. It wasn’t only about the music; it was also about being social. I wanted to share the experience. And when I didn’t have the company, I usually didn’t go.

Second, I not only share the artists I think are worthwhile, I also give you a description of the venue and what part of NYC will be attending the concert (i.e., who’s in the audience).  Since the list is curated, I’ve already left off events that I think might not be good, just based on the venue or the lack of outreach to communities beyond my own. As someone who values diversity and who worked in building participation in the arts for the last six years, the audience aspect is very important to me. When the energy of a performance is strong, the crowd can feel part of something bigger, creating a magical effect. But when I look around and see faces that look just like me, it lessens this effect. I think it’s very important for these NYC venues to focus on their outreach/marketing efforts to make sure these events are as “NYC” as possible. So yes, I try to present diverse offerings, not only through various disciplines but with the venue locations as well.

So in total, we can ensure quality with the right artist. But since I believe art should be for everyone: let’s also make the experience accessible and equitable. I feel like the art critics have it all wrong: don’t only evaluate the art; evaluate the experience. Perhaps you’ll find my view very NYC-centric or too demand-sided (for you economists out there); but hey, I’m born-and-raised, son. Eager to hear your thoughts.

Anyway, here’s what I got for today through next Thursday, 8/25:

Friday August 19

  • Dance: Downtown Dance Festival.  This festival has spanned the week, presenting dance from all over NYC and the world. Today’s program: BALAM Dance Theater and Battery Dance Company. One New York Plaza, Water and Whitehall Streets, NYC. 12-2pm. >>
  • Theater: The Taming of the Shrew. Presented by Hudson Warehouse. Cancelled in case of rain. North Patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Riverside Park, W. 89th St/Riverside Drive, NYC, 6:30pm.

  • Film/Dance/Music: Passport Fridays: Colombia. I list QMA every week because 1) they get it and value multiculturalism; 2) they curate well—their offerings are dope!; and 3) a combination of the two: they support the artists of and curate for Queens (i.e., their community.) So cool. This week begins with the kick-off for the Colombian Flower Festival 2011, a Colombian tradition that combines floral pageantry (the unveiling of a 7,500 square foot flower tapestry comprised of over two milllion roses, carnations, sunflowers and lilies) with an array of cultural activities and traditions. The dance group this week is Estampas Negras, whose Colombian folkloric dances cover different parts of the country. Pablo Mayor provides the music.  From Cali, the composer/arranger/pianist has taken his knowledge of Colombian folklore and has combined it with an extensive knowledge of jazz harmonies. Film is The Accordion Kings (Alan Tomlinson, USA/Colombia, 2008, 60min, English & Spanish with English ST). Outside the Queens Museum of Art, Flushing Meadows, Queens. Flower Festival Unveiling, 6pm, Dance and music, 6:30 pm; film, 8 pm. >>
  • Art/Jazz: Chris Wood with Billy Martin and Charlie Burnham / Mister Rourke duets with Chris Wood and Charlie Burnham. Check out some of the exhibitions currently at the Whitney and then find yourself listening to some of the best musicians around, who are defined by jazz and funk but who have also helped to define these musical genres. This should be an interesting venue for their work, especially given they often play on the jam band circuit. In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Medeski Martin & Wood will be in residence at the Whitney on Friday nights in August, joined by guest artists each night. It’ll be interesting to see how Martin and Wood’s music melds with Burnham’s jazz violin and Mister Rourke’s beats. Fridays from 6-9pm is pay-what-you-wish. Whitney Museum, Lower Gallery and Sculpture Court, 7pm.

  • Film: Jurassic Park. You all know the movie. Watch it from one of the coolest possible venues: the flight deck of the Intrepid. Bring lawn chairs, picnic baskets and blankets (no alcohol allowed.) Intrepid’s Flight Deck (12th Ave. & 46th Street), 8:30pm (doors 7:30pm). >>
  • Dance: / White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Company. Who knew Taye Diggs was also a choreographer? I’m a fan of the co-founder/renaissance man so I’m eager to see if the quality of his dance measures the quality of his acting and voice. The The New York Times describes the group as “high energy, including deliberate athletic gesture and checked power.” Their SummerStage debut will offer the premiere of a movement-theatre interpretation of NPR/Radiolab’s story, “Goat On A Cow.” White Wave is “committed to the creation and expression of the union between the natural rhythm of the planet and the primal essence of the human spirit.” Preceded by a master class, in fun, high energy contemporary modern dance, with Germaul Barnes. East River Park (cross at Delancey and walk south), 7pm master class, 8pm performance. >>


Saturday August 20


  • Market: Dekalb Market. With foci on entrepreneurship, quality, community and sustainability, I’d advocate a trip to check out the goods. Housed in a collection of salvaged shipping containers, Brooklyn’s creatives present their goods in this community setting. Apparently there’s an incubator farm, food market, events and performance venue, and a collection of eateries and work-sell spaces. Sounds like a cool space. This is ongoing but visit this weekend to check out my friend, Charlene’s business, Tranquil Tuesdays, a social enterprise that supports women in China through the sale of tea and teaware. Through occupational training, a network of support, and a solid job within the company, Charlene is doing good work. Go support her and other artisans. Flatbush Avenue @ Willoughby St., Brooklyn, 10am-7pm. >>
  • Dance: Downtown Dance Festival.  This festival has spanned the past week, presenting dance from all over NYC and the world. Today’s program: Silesian Dance Theatre (From Bytom, Poland) and Sutra Dance Theatre (From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Limited seating. For reservations, click here—two tickets per reservation. Dance New Amsterdam, 280 Broadway (Entrance on Chambers), NYC, 8pm. >>
  • Tour: Fourth Arts Block (FAB). I’m an East Village native and don’t know too much about the inner workings of all of the theaters on 4th Street between 2nd/Bowery and how they got there. I also didn’t know that 4th St is one of only two cultural districts in the entire city. This one block contains 12 theaters, eight dance/rehearsal studios, three film-editing suites, and a large screening room. This walking tour is led by urban planner, Laurence Frommer.Reservations required: or 212-475-9585 ext. 35. Meeting location available upon registration, 12-2pm.  >>
  • Film: The Starlite Project: We Came to Sweat (2011, USA, 70 min.) A film about the Starlite Lounge, founded as a non-discriminating bar for gay people of color in 1959, a decade before Stonewall. A conversation with the filmmakers will follow. BMW Guggenheim Lab, Houston/2nd Ave. Screening, 6:15pm. >>
  • Theater: The Taming of the Shrew. Presented by Hudson Warehouse. Cancelled in case of rain. North Patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Riverside Park, W. 89th St/Riverside Drive, NYC, 6:30pm.

  •  Film: The Land Inhabited (2009, Spain, 71 min.) Apparently, a beautiful and atmospheric documentary investigation of a remote area in Mongolia and several of its inhabitants. “An almost tangible visual poem with great feeling for detail.” I’m a traveler and appreciator of beauty. Sounds beautiful. Big Screen Plaza (btw. 29th/30th Sts. at 6th Ave behind the Eventi Hotel), 4pm >>
  • Dance/Music: Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra present the Jazz Age Dance Party. Experience hot jazz and open-air merriment as this Jazz-Age Lawn party brings you back in time to the 1920s. Live music and dance, instruction in period dances, picnicking, and games. I’ve seen pictures and this event looks fun. The event requires tickets ($7 in advance or $10 on Governors Island.) Usually, I wouldn’t post a paid ticketed event but a number of you wrote me about it and apparently you can experience the music and people-watching from outside as well. Governor’s Island, 11-5pm. >>
  •  Reggae: Tiken Jah Fakoly / Meta and the Cornerstones / Los Rakas. Tiken Jah Fakoly is a figurehead of the new reggae scene in Africa with an infectious reggae beat + politically charged lyrics, speaking out on political and social injustices which have led to his exile from several African countries including his homeland, the Ivory Coast. Meta and the Cornerstones is “the future of reggae music,” fusing afropop, hip-hop, rock and soul with an international mixture of vocals.  Los Rakas grew up in Panama and moved to Oakland, creating a distinctive “Panabay” twist on hip-hop and reggae. All of these musicians look dope but I’m really excited for Meta—I’ve known him for many years, from when he used to perform in the now-defunct, Lava Gina. It’s amazing to see him explode. Central Park Mainstage, NYC, 3pm. >>
  • Dance: Step Afrika! / Border Crossing Collective. As I shared before, I think the dance performances might be where it’s at. Since there are so few spots devoted to the art discipline, we get the best of the best. Check out these groups. East River Park (cross at Delancey and walk south), Master class to learn Step at 7pm, 8pm performance. >>



Sunday August 21

  • Market: Dekalb Market. See Saturday, August 20 listing.
  • Tour: Fourth Arts Block (FAB). See Saturday, August 20 listing. This time led by Brenden Hunt of the Lower East Side History Project (LESHP).
  •  Dance/Music: Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra present the Jazz Age Dance Party. See Saturday, August 20 listing.
  • Blues: This is Hudson River Park’s 12th annual Blues BBQ Festival, bringing the best Blues bands from across the country together with the finest New York City BBQ restaurants for a fantastic summer day. Lots of great music with brass funk rock band, Bonerama>>
  •  Hip-Hop: Rakim / EPMD / FunkMaster Flex. This is an amazing old skool line-up. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Rakim’s iconic album, Paid in Full. Rolling Stone deemed it, “the greatest hip-hop album of all time.” This will get crowded so get there early. Central Park Mainstage, NYC, 3pm. >>
  • Film: From a Whisper (2008, Kenya, 90 min.) The film tells the story of an artist and an intelligence officer, and how they find unique ways to move on from the August 1998 terrorist bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, that shattered their lives. The African Film Festival curates a wonderful assortment of classic and contemporary, African and Diasporic movies weekly. And if being outside isn’t your thing, you can hang in air-conditioning at the library, one of my most favorite NYC institutions. Mid-Manhattan Public Library, Annex (40th St./5th Ave), 6th Floor, NYC, 2pm.
  • Music/Art: Astoria Park Shore Fest. 50 acts are scheduled to appear, featuring various local musicians, artists and vendors gathering for a day of song, dance and entertainment on five different stages located throughout Astoria Park. The organizers used Kickstarter wisely to produce this epic event. Plus the waterfront promenade will be carless. Sounds really nice. Shore Blvd, Astoria Park 12-9pm. See the line-up here. >>
  • Theater/Performance Art: “Bamboozled, or The Real Reality Show” produced by Theater for the New City’s Street Theater Company. As described on the website: “TNC’s Street Theater always contains an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a huge running providing continuous movement behind the actors. The company of 32 actors, 15 crew members, two assistant directors and four live musicians shares the challenge of performing outside and holding a large, non-captive audience. The music varies in style from Bossa Nova to Gilbert & Sullivan. Complex social issues are often presented through children’s allegories, with children as the heroes, making these free productions a popular form of family entertainment.” This show in particular is about a Postman who used to love his job when he was able to deliver mail of happiness: birthday cards, news of newborns, etc. But this year, mail represents sadness: pink slips, businesses closings, Medicare terminations. It sounds like psychedelia ensues (yeah, it doesn’t fully make sense to me either. Gotta see it to understand it.) This will be happening in parks all over the city for the rest of the summer. This time, it’s at the Central Park Bandshell (Naumburg at 72nd St.), 2pm.



Monday August 22

  • Film: Saturday Night Fever. Bring a blanket or a chair. Astoria Park Lawn (21 St./Hoyt Ave, Ditmars Blvd/East River), Astoria, Queens, 8:30pm.
  • Film: Dirty Harry. This is the last Bryant Park film of the summer with a classic movie. Bryant Park, (the lawn opens at 5pm for blankets and picnicking–get there then if you want a space on the lawn. The films begin at sunset–typically between 8pm and 9pm. >>

  • Classical Music: The Knights. In my opinion, the Naumburg series produces some of the best classical music in an NYC summer. A night of Schubert and Liszt. Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park, 7:30. >>
  • Reggae/Calypso: Shaggy / Mighty Sparrow / Beres Hammond. I saw Shaggy when I was in college and it was a surprisingly bombastic show. (Haha, I’m so witty!) But for real, it was really fun. And Calypso Monarch, Mighty Sparrow is a legend. Wingate Field (Brooklyn Avenue between Rutland Rd. and Winthrop St.), Brooklyn, 7:30. >>



Tuesday August 23


  • Hip-Hop: Digger’s Delight. DJs rocking their rarest, funkiest grooves. Check them out near where the art form was created. This week: DJ Lord Finesse, GrandMaster Caz +  Jazzy Jay. These are big names in DJing, for sure. Nicholas Park (135th St. Plaza & St. Nicholas Ave.), 4-8pm.
  • Salsa: Tito Rojas. El Gallo Salsero has been at it for three decades. A constant on the Latin music scene, Rojas has “reached the area where pop music turns into art, where signs of emotionalism by the performer bring an entire audience together” (New York Times). East River Park (cross at Delancey and walk south), 7pm. >>
  • Film: El Cantante. Hector Lavoe, who started the salsa movement in 1975 and brought it to the United States had an interesting story. Watch it. Location: the landscape between Sheep Meadow/the 72nd Street Cross Drive, NYC. Guest DJs play at 6:30 pm, film at 8pm. >>



Wednesday August 24




  • Acapella / Latin: The MetropoliTones / Afro Andes. While I’m not a huge acapella fan, the Metropolitones are the acapella group for alumni of the Seven Sister schools. Being a Seven Sister alumna, I feel like I should send my support. Afro Andes sounds great. Lincoln Square (across from Lincoln Center), 12-2pm.



  • Film: Bird. The troubled life and career of legendary jazz musician, Charlie “Bird” Parker. Hector Lavoe yesterday, Charlie Parker today…I like the arts focus of the Centra Park Film Series! Location: the landscape between Sheep Meadow/the 72nd Street Cross Drive, NYC. Guest DJs play at 6:30 pm, film at 8pm. >>
  • Film: Silent Film Festival. Backyard Band/with presents a night of silent films, live music and homemade pies (yes, you can have all three at the same time)! Enjoy a specially curated, Socrates Sculpture Park-themed evening of classic and contemporary silent films set to original, live scores by local musicians. Sounds so nice! Socrates Sculpture Park, 3134 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens, Films begin at sunset. >>
  • Hip-Hop: The Cold Crush Brothers. These are the originals. They were among those who contributed to the art forms inception into musical history, consisting of the legendary Grandmaster Caz, Almighty KG, JDL, Easy AD, DJ Charlie Chase and DJ Tony Tone. I think this will be a special concert because this group performed in the same venue in the hip-hop classic film “Wild Style.” I’ll be there. East River Park (cross at Delancey and walk south), 7pm. >>


Thursday August 25


  • Film:  WILD STYLE. I love this movie and feel like it’s apropos that it’s showing because I think I’ve referenced it at least 2-3 times in these listings. Check out the beginnings of hip-hop culture. Added incentive: Director Charlie Ahearn will be doing a Q&A at the screening. BMW Guggenheim Lab, Houston/2nd Ave., 7pm. >>
  • Theater: Life and Times: Episode 3, an open rehearsal presented by Nature Theater of Oklahoma. RSVP by email  or call 718-589-2230 x.6191. Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, 928 Simpson St., Bronx, 7 pm.
  • Dance: Ballets with a Twist: Cocktail Hour. Choreographer Marilyn Klaus’s collection of dances “celebrates cocktail culture with an irreverent pop sensibility.” David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, 8:30pm. >>
  • Film: The Godfather, Tompkins Square Park (7-10 Streets, btw. A/B), NYC, 8:30pm. >>

That’s what I got.

Aight friends, have a great week.

All good things,



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