Celebrate Brooklyn announces new season of world music, film & dance

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Celebrate Brooklyn will kick off another summer of performing arts and film on June 21.

At 7:30 pm that Thursday, singer and songwriter Marcia Ball will open the festival with her "east Texas blues meets southwest Louisiana swamp rock," according to Jack Walsh, coordinator of the annual performance festival. "She’s known throughout the country as one of the leading R&B artists and she’s supporting a brand new album, ’Presumed Innocent’ (Alligator), that just came out. Year after year, she has performed as a recurring headliner at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival."

Other highlights of the season include a performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic on July 7 under the direction of assistant conductor Alexander Mikelthwaite.

Bed-Stuy funk innovators Mandrill will perform on June 23. According to Walsh, Mandrill last performed at Celebrate Brooklyn in 1988. "These guys sold out Madison Square Garden in the early 1970s, based on their local popularity, and we’re thrilled to have them back," said Walsh.

Throughout the summer Brooklynites can go to the Prospect Park bandshell to hear music from Brazil, Pakistan, Mexico, Israel, Algeria, Panama, Cuba, Senegal and Mali. For some of these performances, featured artists will participate in a panel discussion with a "leading ethnomusic­ologist," according to Walsh.

Though this year’s schedule may be missing last year’s big names like Susan Tedeschi, Blue Man Group, Toshi Reagon and They Might Be Giants, it does have a "surprise artist" on July 14.

"Take a close look at this description," said Walsh. "Panamanian singer, actor and activist in a very special surprise concert appearance." Celebrate Brooklyn will announce the performer’s identity after June 23, said Walsh.

Celebrate Brooklyn will also continue to show classic films in its recently refurbished bandshell.

"We have a 50-foot-wide, 21-foot-tall mega-screen," said Walsh. "It’s mammoth, state-of-the-art, with 4,000-watt projectors. We really have an outdoor large cinema."

On July 19 at 7:30 pm, Fritz Lang’s silent "Metropolis" will be screened with an industrial junk score played live by the returning Alloy Orchestra.

On July 26, see James Dean and Natalie Wood in the ’50s classic "Rebel Without a Cause." The movie was "filmed in Cinemascope, an extremely wide format which is great to see outdoors. It has an enveloping sense to it," said Walsh.

And on Aug. 9, the star-studded Academy Award-nominated extravaganza "Around the World in 80 Days," starring David Niven will be screened. The 1956 film features 40 cameos including one by Frank Sinatra. "It was an Academy Award winner because it was filmed around the world, in exotic locale after exotic locale," said Walsh.

"The Blue Angel" with a score by The BQE project will be screened on Aug. 2. In this 1930 film, Marlene Dietrich stars in the role of Lola Lola. Unlike "Metropolis," "The Blue Angel" is a talkie, said Walsh.

"BQE project are much more interactive - playing music to intertwine with the dialogue," said Walsh.

For dance aficionados, this is a particularly exciting Celebrate Brooklyn season. The Vancouver-based Holy Body Tattoo will headline the July 28 program. Also on that day’s bill is Williamsburg’s Stereotype troupe.

Ben Munisteri and the choreographic collective rhythMEK are the choreographers in residence this year, and they’ll hold an open rehearsal, lecture and demonstration on Aug. 1 in the Prospect Park Picnic House.

"Real dance enthusiasts come for this. It’s an opportunity to get in close with performers. We’ve been doing this for the last six or seven years," said Walsh.

Munisteri and rhythMEK, former stars of the Alvin Ailey dance company, will give a formal performance on Aug. 4.

On Aug. 10, Mark Morris himself, as well as members of his Fort Greene-based troupe, will perform "Dancing Honeymoon" and "Grand Duo" to live musical accompaniment.


The Celebrate Brooklyn performances take place at the Prospect Park Bandshell (inside the park near Ninth Street and Prospect Park West) in Park Slope. Suggested donation is $3. For more information, visit on the Web or call (718) 855-7882, ext. 45.

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