PASEO was a roving site-specific performance by Director and Choreographer Joanna Haigood and Music Director Bobby Sanabria that celebrated the Hunts Point and Longwood sections of the South Bronx and their astounding contribution to Latin music. With performances by over 80 dancers, musicians, poets, actors, and community members, fire escapes, stoops, and sidewalks came alive with Latin music and dance, stickball games, and street scenes evoking the neighborhoods’ vibrant street life and cultural vitality during the 1940s through 1960s.
Danza Fiesta, Photo: Nabil Rahman
Salsa dancers on fire escapes. Photo: Alan Watson
Over 80 dancers, musicians, poets, and actors, including Ramon Ramos Alayo and Franck Muhel, members of Los Pleneros de la 21, and stellar Bronx-based artists, including Arthur Aviles, La Bruja, percussionist and poet Angel Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican folklorico ensemble Danza Fiesta, the Los Monstritos percussion ensemble, Bobby Sanabria’s nine-piece ensemble, Ascensión, and guest musicians who came of age in the neighborhood, including the legendary Alegre All Star timbalero Orlando Marin, The Last Mambo King. Paseo also featured 30 community members of all ages, including children and teenagers playing urban street games that had thrived in the mid twentieth century, such as Skelsies, Double Dutch, and Stickball.
Ramon Ramos Alayos & Alethea Pace, Photo: Alan Watson
Audience members met at Casita Maria and followed plena players from Los Pleneros de la 21 through Hunts Point’s and Longwood’s main streets and side thoroughfares, including East 163rd Street, Banana Kelly (the banana-shaped block of Kelly Street that was a focal point of social activism in the 1970s), Bill Rainey Park, and the Longwood Historic District. The promenade led to a grand finale on Kelly Street in front of P.S. 52, where Eddie Palmieri, Joe Quijano, Ray Baretto, and other prominent musicians got their start; and culminated at 52 Park—a neighborhood public park that is a popular urban oasis thanks to the management of 52 People for Progress, a community volunteer group.
Paul Benney at P.S. 52, Photo: Alan Watson
JOANNA HAIGOOD (Director/Choreographer) is the Founding Artistic Director of the San Francisco-based Zaccho Dance Theatre. Her work uses the built environment as a point of departure and involves in-depth research into the history and character of sites and of the communities related to them. As part of Haigood’s almost twenty-year relationship with Dancing in the Streets, she created Cho-Mu and Picture Red Hook, a dazzling work for a massive grain terminal in Red Hook, and she conceived and directed Breaking Ground – A Dance Charrette, a critically acclaimed series of site-specific dance by established and emerging choreographers commissioned for spectacular New York City sites. Haigood received a Bessie Award for Paseo “for an outstanding production of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form,” and she received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award.
Joanna Haigood, Photo: Kat Wade
BOBBY SANABRIA (Music Director) is a Bronx Hall of Fame inductee and a multi-Grammy nominated percussionist, composer, arranger, recording artist, conductor, and educator who has performed with a veritable Who’s Who in the world of jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensembles. Sanabria has a deep knowledge of Latin music and is recognized as one of the genre’s leading authorities. He was born and raised in the “Fort Apache” section of the South Bronx, he graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and is on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and The New School. Sanabria has scored Paseo, tracing the musical history of Salsa and Latin jazz from Africa to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the South Bronx.
For Nuyorican Memories, Bobby Sanabria’s memories of growing up in the South Bronx, click here.
Bobby Sanabria, Photo: KPTYson Photography
A Bessie Award was awarded to choreographer Joanna Haigood for Paseo in 2013 “for an outstanding production of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form."
Paseo was commissioned and produced by Dancing in the Streets and Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education as part of the South Bronx Culture Trail, which is supported in part by the Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.
Paseo was made possible in part with generous support from the MAP Fund, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Con Edison. The South Bronx Culture Trail was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.
Paseo was part of the 10th Annual openhousenewyork weekend, which will taketook place in all five boroughs on October 6 & 7, 2012. Founded in 2001, openhousenewyork (OHNY) is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, engaging and educating the public about New York City’s architecture, design and cultural heritage.