THE COMMUNITY CULTURE AROUND THE BAM DANCE AFRICAN STREET FAIR FESTIVAL IN BROOKLYN

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is one of the oldest performing arts centers in America; it introduced the BAM Dance Africa street fair festival to the public over forty years ago to celebrate annually in May the African culture through its Dance Africa Festival. These are images I have captured throughout the years. 

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3rd International day of friendship

The event presented a Unity Parade of Flags of all 195 countries that are member states of the United Nations. Representatives marched from the Fulton mall to Brooklyn Borough Hall. Holding hands, they all formed a human chain around Brooklyn Borough Hall signifying "bridging the gap" in generations of the world’s people... Read more

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I AM... Jypsy Jeyfree

Jypsy Jeyfree represents the harmony between a renaissance woman, bohemian spirit, freedom fighter and true walking ART. Invoking the raw emotion of Abstract Expressionism and the perpetual hunger for an Avant-Garde lifestyle. She is a artistic maverick in her own rights from Creative Direction to her passion for spreading Cultural Awareness & Kids Empowerment with her Reclaimed Wearable Art.

When it comes to Jypsy Jeyfree -- the Musical performer, you are in for a whimsical and theatrical ride. She expresses herself through true performance ART-- filled with face masks galore, unimaginable props and raging messages of empowerment.

The spin on her self-proclaimed free-styling moody sounds and colorful style of various singing tones is what the industry needs. An emerging new DIY artist that's breaking boundaries by doing things in her own righteous way.

Arizona Asian Festival

The annual Arizona Asian Festival in Mesa is a family-friendly celebration of Asian culture and heritage. The three-day event featured authentic cuisine showcasing the continent’s diverse range of flavors and dishes as well as an arts & crafts marketplace, taiko drumming performances... Read more

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When I perform... Milteri

My name is Milteri Tucker. I'm named after both my grandmothers my Puerto Rican and New Orleans side.

I am a dancer and choreographer. I Dance Bomba, Plena, Danza, African Dance, Afro-Diaspora dances such as Afro-Cuban, Haitian and other Caribbean dances ballet, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Hip Hop and Folkoreric dances.

I began singing as a young girl in school and church choirs. Began training dance since I was 11 years old in Puerto Rico. I now own and operate Bombazo Dance Co, Inc in New York.

To me, performing is sharing yourself with the audience! I feel alive, happy and I have a voice that is being heard! ~Milteri

I have a saying, You must know where you come from to know where you are going. Connecting to my roots has defined and focused my artistic purpose!

I AM... JlightSky

My fashion is an intersection of art, culture, and identity. The law of attraction applies to fashion. I realized that when I dawn a garment or accessory from another culture I attract the people from that culture. For example, the other day I wore an Indian bindi and attracted a man from Bangladesh. He informed me that bindis are worn during festive. occasions and that a big bindi signifies a married womyn.

Another example, one day I wore my red Chinese influenced jacket and my coworker Aaron who is from China said that during New Year everyone wears a similar coat and that red in China means good luck. If I didn't wear the bindi or the coat I wouldn't have had these beautiful conversations.

When I purchased these items I didn't buy them with that intention. I bought them from a place of respect, admiration, and love. Why should I limit my expression to only wearing clothing of the "West" when the textures and silhouettes from Africa, Asia, Caribbean and LatinAmerican rhythm better with my spirit. 


To me, my fashion is a bridge to connect with all people of the world. I honor and value cultural fashion because it is grounded in human expression and preservation.

Mixing the cultural fashions of the world grounds me in the universal human experience, where we all are reflections of one another. The world is vast, beautiful, and in a way within all of us, all we must do is tap into it." 

Nā Leo Kūpono Productions

Nā Leo Kūpono Productions is the finest Polynesian production company in Arizona. We are a group of Hawaiians who were born and raised on the islands of Hawai'i, now living in the desert state of Arizona. We are dancers, musicians, marketers, technicians, emcees and so much more. But we possess a major element that is lacking in all other production companies like ours here on the mainland: the true Spirit of Aloha. 

Learn more by visiting them online at: http://www.naleokupono.com/

When I perform... Aeilushi

My name is Aeilushi Mistry. Aeilushi - daughter of Saint Aeilush known as Aeilushi. Mistry - are also known as Suthar, carpenters.

I practice Gujarati Folk traditional dances such as Garba, Raas, Divada, supada. This is a community. Garba (ગરબા in Gujarati) is a form of dance which was originated in the state of Gujarat in India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha ("womb") and Deep ("a small earthenware lamp"). Many traditional garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navarātrī(Gujarati નવરા'ી Nava = 9, rātrī = nights). Either the lamp (the Garba Deep) or an image of the Goddess, Durga (also called Amba) is placed in the middle of concentric rings as an object of veneration. It is also performed wedding and other celebration. Traditionally female will wear chaniya - long embroidered skirt, choli- blouse, and dupatta - long 3 meters fabric with beautiful ornaments and hair is decorated with flowers.

Also, I practice Bharathanatyam, a traditional dance from Tamil Nadu. This dance style is more than 3000 year old. This dance performed in temple as a prayer dance. Bha - means bhav = expression, ra - means raga = melody, tala- means = rhythm , natayam = dance. Now, the time is change and dance is regularly performed on the stage. The dance form is based on 'Adavu' (steps/technique) and 'Hasthamudra' (hand gestures). Stories are performed and communicated using 'bhavabhinaya' (facial expression) and 'hasthamudra' (hand gestures). The performance starts with the prayers to Lord Ganash and worship of Lord Nataraja, Lord of dance. Cosutmes and make-up is also carefully done.The hair is usually either wrapped in a big bun with orange and white flowers wrapped around it. Or more commonly in a very long braid with flowers wrapped around. The makeup, great emphasis placed on the eyes. The eyeliner is very bold. Also, the tips of the fingers and toes are colored red. There are various costumes styles. These costumes are prepared using Kanchipuram silk and Banaras silk sarees. The jadatada jewelry is used in Bharatanatyam. It is decorated with white, red, green colored stones. The jewelry that adorns the head includes a headpiece that sits just on the hairline with a piece coming down the center. There is another headpiece which represents sun and moon, sun ornament is placed on the right side of the head, the other is the moon and is on the left. Then long earrings that are set into place at the earhole and up the length of the ear and then attached at the hair. A nose ring is worn in the middle of the nose, and can be accompanied by the usual stud on the left or right side. There are two necklaces, once short and other is long. A decorated belt is worn at the waist. And finish with tying Dancing bells both ankles.

Garba and Raas, it is a community dance, I don’t recall exactly at what age, I started participating in Garba by once joining the circle and learn dancing by following the movement. And, Bharatnatyam, I started learning Bharatnatyam at the age of nine. I still continue to practice these dances and still continue to learn every day.

I received BA degree from Gandrava University, Gujarat and Advance degree from Kerala Kalamandalam, school of performing arts, Kerala, India. To enhance her performance, she studied with numerous renowned Bharatnatyam dance gurus. In addition, to better understand and learn how different dance styles use unique movements and use of space, she studied other styles of dance such as Kathak, Kuchipudi, modern dance, and West African dance. Currently, I am associated with the Brooklyn Art Council, NY as an arts educator and performer teaching World Culture through Dance. And award 2015 NYFA Fellow Folk/Traditional Arts.

"When performing, it brings me joy and happiness. It helps me to connect people with one another. I thank myself that I am allowing myself to share my culture. It is the most satisfying moment." ~Aeilushi

In Garba, the instruments used are Dhol - a double headed percussion, kanjira - hand cymbals, harmonium, singer sings Garba folk songs base on gods and goddesses such Krishna and Parvati ma. Using household items such as sticks, earthen pots, winnowing basket in daily chores and singing folk song while doing daily chores around the house gave birth to these folk dances. Now they are know as folk dance such as Raas, Bheda dance, Supada dance, deeva dance, tipani dance. Props used in Raas - wooden stick is used, divada dance - oil lamps are held in hand and dance, Bheda dance - earthen water pot is used and dance, supada dance - using winnowing, a basket made from bamboo.In Bharatnayam, it is a storytelling dance. Stories are performed using gestures and expression. The music in Bharatanatyam is based on Carnatic classical music.In Bharatnatyam, the instruments used are Veena, Flute, Mridangam and Violin. There is a singer and the dance guru gives the Thaalam using hand symbols. The singer will sing poetry in praise of god and goddesses such as Lord Natraga, Lord Ganesh, Goddess Durga, Lord Krishna and many more. These songs are set in a rhythm and beats. Dancer and Musician work together and choreograph the dance.

Yes, born and raised in Navasari, Gujarat, India to parents who are also from Asian - India origin. In my Gujarati Hindu family, coming from Mistry - carpentry background, beside carpentry background, many family members were self-taught singers, dancers, and musicians. When I perform my first public performance, my family member compliment me that now we have a new dancer in our family. I respectfully give this credit to my parents. They both are artist themselves. My father who played Dilruba - a string instrument and an architect. My mother is a artist as well. She paints on glass, creates wonderful sand rangoli, great needle work and created beautiful embroidery work. Both had a keen eye is perfection and value art. When my mom was growing up she really wanted to learn dance. She completed her wish by enrolling me to dance class and begin my training in Bharatnatyam at the age of 9. I admire and respect My parents for providing this opportunity. Their support is very valuable. And such support from my husband continued and I am able to continue it further. So, yes, My family, culture, tradition and heritage play an important part of my being. The dance arts, cultural traditions and ceremonies of my Hindu tradition and India have played an important part in my upbringing and are an integral part of my being. Its memories are part of my identity and inspire my art making.

As I continue my journey, I feel, I am reaching deeper and deeper within my culture and roots. It gives me more inspiration to search more and find answers. It is my responsibility to learn my culture and pass it on. When I perform and see audience smiling and dancing, it brings a joy to me seeing the connection. When sharing culture to one another and seeing the similarity between two cultures, it is the most satisfying moment. This reminds me of a verse said in Sanskrit language:

“vasudhaiva kutumbakam” - meaning vasudha - earth; eva-indeed is’ and kutumbakam family “world is one family.”