Freedom of Expression Takes Center Stage at NYC’s Dance Parade

Dance Parade NYC

NOTE: The 2013 Dance Parade New York starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, on 21st Street and Broadway. DanceFest follows 3-7 p.m. at Tompkins Square Park. The event is free.

UNITY THROUGH DANCE

Ever feel like throwing all caution to the wind and dancing in the streets? If you're in New York City this weekend, go for it! Nearly 10,000 local and international participants will dance down Broadway on Saturday for the 7th annual Dance Parade and Festival, celebrating their freedom of expression and addressing New York City's restrictive 1926 Cabaret Law.

In 2006, a New York State Supreme Court ruled that, unlike music, theater and painting, dance was not a constitutionally protected form of expression, leaving the Cabaret law in effect. The next year, Dance Parade founder Greg Miller obtained a parade permit for about 70 organizations to celebrate as many diverse cultural and movement forms as possible. Earlier this week, the nonprofit's executive director was proud to accept an official proclamation at City Hall designating May 18 as “Dance Parade Day.”

"Dance Parade and DanceFest are a celebration of dance, and all dance shows a collaboration of spirit and imagination, and pleasure in movement," Miller says. Also attending Monday's press conference were international Marinera champion Rodrigo Giles (Rome), participants representing Marinera Peru, the Pink Tutu Ballet Company, Mazarte and performance artists Cocoon NYC and Pradomar.

The parade ends with festivities at the East Village's Tompkins Square Park, and three stages of free workshops, performances and a dance party led by legendary DJ/producer and parade grand marshal Louie Vega. International choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi and revered DanceAfrica founding elder Baba Chuck Davis also share grand marshal duties this year.

"This is a special show I've put together for Dance Parade NYC! We love New York City!" Vega revealed in an email while performing abroad in Sicily and Naples. "Dance Parade is for people of all ages, young to older, which gives it a universal music festival feel. This allows me to do what I do best and that's mix the worlds of dance. You will hear a foray of sounds - African, Jazz, Latin, Soul, House - all intertwined into one with performances (at Tompkins Square Park) by my orchestra, the Elements Of Life featuring Josh Milan, Anané (who will also play a DJ set), poet Oveous Maximus and Jose Mangual."

Encouraging a non-competitive spirit and common love of dance, Dance Parade organizers help groups build websites, get access to materials, fund raise and reach broader audiences. According to its website, Dance Parade (as an umbrella organization) empowers and supports dance communities that do not have access to public funding yet have a communicative art form they wish to practice and promote. This year, teaching artists in conjunction with Dance Parade's Community Engagement Program hosted five-week residencies with more than 100 youngsters and in partnership with NYC's Parks and Recreation Department.

"I'm very proud and honored I've been asked to be the Grand Marshal ... to be recognized in your hometown is a great achievement," Vega adds. "I've been DJing for the past 28 years and making people dance, rejoice and let loose and that has been something that I thrive on and allows me to create the music I produce. New York City is my hometown and this wonderful city has shaped me into the producer, DJ, bandleader, Grammy winner, global DJ that I am today."

Recommended: Dance Parade New York

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