Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival

June 21, 2011 12:50:56 PM PDT
For 33 years, the Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival has been spreading the joy of music, dance and filmmaking as the New York's longest-running free, summer-long event of its kind. And like every year, the Prospect Park Bandshell promises to be magical place to be.The festival began on June 10 with a free concert by renowned instrumentalist Andrew Bird as part of initiative to bring 24 free performances, including 20 music concerts, two dance performances and two free film screenings in addition to a family concert and five benefit concerts -- and the fun is just beginning.

This summer's performances span not only numerous Brooklyn artists and groups -- including Smif-N-Wessun, Dan Zanes, Lewis Kahn, Mark Morris Dance Group, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, The Brooklyn Youth Orchestra, Bed Stuy Veterans and Red Baraat -- but approximately 50 artists from across the United States, plus artists from across Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of the world. A complete lineup can be found here.

The festival's longevity can be credited largely due to its willingness to evolve and innovate. Celebrate Brooklyn! welcomes new food and merchandise vendors for 2011: The beloved Ditmas Park eatery, The Farm on Adderley, will offer a menu of seasonal, carefully-sourced food, and the local Etsy.com-based artisans collective The {NewNew} will make it possible for concertgoers to shop for a range of handmade goods.

Furthermore, Celebrate Brooklyn! has expanded to include Celebrate Brooklyn! Bridge Dance Party, a new series held on three consecutive Thursdays in May. The events comprising it include: Maceo Parker and DJ Spinna (May 12), La Excelencia and Que Bajo?! Featuring Uproot Andy and Geko Jones (May 19), and Red Baraat and DJ Rekha (May 26).

In addition to music of nearly every genre and two major dance performances, Celebrate Brooklyn! will host two events in its signature Music & Movies series, which pairs iconic films projected onto the festival's enormous outdoor screen (50-foot wide by 21-foot high) -- New York City's largest -- with special live music performances. On July 21, the festival will host a West Side Story dance- and sing-along, including a dance lesson, onscreen lyrics, and separate entrances to the Bandshell for (audience members identifying as) Sharks and Jets. On August 4, the unrivaled Alloy Orchestra will perform their score to the newly restored version of the Fritz Lang landmark Metropolis.

Each year, the festival hosts several benefit concerts that offer rare opportunities to see great artists at a reasonable ticket price while supporting the festival's free performances. This season's benefit concerts include Sufjan Stevens on Aug. 2 and Cut Copy, with Foster the People and Midnight Magic, on Aug. 11.

There is a suggested $3 contribution at the gate for each free show. For more information, visit www.bricartsmedia.org/cb.