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Parade will bring Appalachian dancing to Flatbush Avenue

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This is a good time to get caught flatfooted!

Flatbush Avenue will look and sound like part of the Appalachian trail on Dec. 21, when participatory music festival Make Music New York is inviting all Brooklynites to take part in a flatfooting parade that will begin at Central Library and tap its way to Barclays Center. One of the organizers said he appreciates the irony of the location.

“It’s funny having it here,” said singer and banjo player Nick Horner. “If there’s one place you don’t associate with old-time music it would be Downtown Brooklyn.”

Flatfooting is a percussive folk dance similar to tap that originated in Appalachia. It accompanies a form of repetitive old-time music that is played on instruments such as guitars, fiddles, and banjos. Horner said the dance moves are integral to the songs.

“It’s equal parts dance and percussion,” he said. “You’re actually making music as you do it.”

The flatfooting tradition is very focused on community, Horner said, with people sharing stories and dance moves between ditties. This makes it a good fit for a Make Music event, he added.

“Flatfoot really lends towards Make Music’s mission of bringing people together around music,” he said.

The parade steps off at 2:30 pm, with a workshop beforehand to teach people the dance moves. Fiddler and dancer Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Katie Cohen of Horner’s band the Nick Horner Family will also show folks how to fashion a pair of tap shoes out of an old pair of sneakers. Four musicians will play during the procession, but organizers are encouraging anyone who wants to bring their instruments to jam along.

“The potential for this is incredible,” Horner said.

Later in the evening, there will be an after-party at the Jalopy Theatre in Red Hook, where Roberts-Gevalt and the Nick Horner Family will perform while participants flatfoot and square dance the night away.

“Flat Foot Flatbush” starting in Grand Army Plaza Park (corner of Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, www.makemusicny.org). Dec. 21 at 2:30 pm. Free.

Pre-parade workshop at Central Library (10 Grand Army Plaza between Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights). Dec. 21 at 1 pm. Free.

Flatfoot Flatbush Show at the Jalopy Theatre [315 Columbia St. between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street in Red Hook, (718) 395–3214, www.jalopy.biz]. Dec. 21 at 7 pm. Free, but donations encouraged.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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