Tag Archives: Midsummer Night Swing

Fela! storms Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing — and Femi Kuti plays, too!

Sahr Ngaujah, star of the Broadway musical Fela!, leads Midsummer Night Swing dance lessons on Monday night. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force may have been the headline act at tonight’s special Monday night edition of Midsummer Night Swing, but the cast members from Fela! on Broadway who taught the preshow dance lesson were just as big a draw — and equally exciting — for many in the audience.

Jill Vallery (in blue T-shirt, left), the dance captain from Fela!, worked hard to keep the crowd dancing.

Sahr Ngaujah, who created the title role of Fela Anikulapo Kuti off-Broadway, and shares the role on Broadway with Kevin Mambo, joined Fela! dance captain Jill Vallery and a host of dancers from the stage spectacle as they whipped the wannabe Afrobeat dancers into a frenzy. Many of the people in the audience, like yours truly, ably demonstrated that they had two left feet when it came to following the athletic and intricate steps involved. But that didn’t deter many from trying. But the real test came later, when the real dance party started. Click through for more photos. Continue reading

Femi Kuti kicks off the final week of Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Femi Kuti

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been distracted this summer. There’s been a lot going on, musically speaking, around NYC and environs so far. As a result, we’ve neglected our friends at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center.

But on Monday night, the start of MNS’s final week  for 2010 — hard to believe — Femi Kuti & The Positive Force are taking over Damrosch Park. And we can’t fail you this time. Even if you think you can’t dance, you should be at this show. It’s hard not to at least feel like you can dance when Femi Kuti takes the stage. His version of Afrobeat — he’s one of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s two musical sons, the other being Seun Kuti who inherited his father’s band Egypt 80 — has an insistent beat and a joyous feel that can get anyone to dance. (Fela Kuti, you may recall, is the subject of the fantastic Broadway musical, Fela!, directed by Bill T. Jones.)

The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. with a dance lesson with Sahr Ngaujah, star Fela!, and the music starts at 7. Tickets are $17 and available at Damrosch Park, at West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, or online. And there are more shows throughout the week: Catherine Russell and Cat & The Hounds Swing Band on Wednesday, Loser’s Lounge Ladies Night on Thursday, La Exelencia on Friday and, wrapping up this year’s dance season, a kids’ dance party at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra on Saturday evening.

Dance to Afrobeat at Midsummer Night Swing

Lincoln Center (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

If the smash Broadway musical Fela! gave you the itch to hear more Afrobeat music, Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing lineup for this summer, announced today, will help you scratch it. Fela Kuti’s son Femi and his band Positive Force are scheduled to perform on July 12, with a a lesson in how to dance to the driving African beat taught by Maija Garcia, associate choreographer of the musical and a DJ set by Sahr Ngaujah, the actor who created the title role in Fela!

Femi Kuti

And if Afrobeat’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other styles of music and dance on offer during the 15 nights of performances at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park.

The cutting-edge programming by Lincoln Center Director of Public Programming Bill Bragin features the New York debuts of four bands: narcotango from Argentina, The Time Jumpers from Nashville, New Orleans’ Moonshiners, and Salsa Band La-33 from Columbia.

Bragin says: “The series offers an array of dance music styles including salsa, swing, disco, and tango.  For the first time this summer we are presenting a night of bhangra, the frenetic, hypnotic dance music from India by way of London and New York.  Famed DJ Rekha will spin bhangra and Bollywood beats with her special guest Red Baraat for a dance party like no other on July 8th.  Another highlight will be an appearance by Femi Kuti & Positive Force on July 12th.  Kuti, the son of Fela Anikulapo Kuti of FELA! on Broadway fame, extends the tradition with his contemporary Afrobeat sound.”

The shows start at 6:30 pm with a dance lesson, followed by live music and dancing from 7:30-10.

Tickets and passes are on sale now. Multi-evening Swing Passes are priced at $90 for six nights, and $160 for the full season.  Tickets for individual evening events are $17.

The Swing box office is located in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall, Broadway and 65th Street. Tickets for individual events and passes can be purchased in advance or on the night of the event at a box office in Damrosch Park.  Tickets and passes can also be purchased through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, or online. Twitter users can follow Midsummer Night Swing  @LCSwing for ongoing news and updates.

Click through to the jump for more info and the full lineup: Continue reading

Behind the scenes with Bang on a Can’s Asphalt Orchestra

Even though Midsummer Night Swing has only just begun its reign in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, it’s not to early to start thinking about its sister program, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, which knocks down the dance floor and turns the park into a concert venue in August.

We’re just three weeks away from the debut of Asphalt Orchestra, an out-of-the-ordinary marching band created by Bang on a Can to perform world premieres of works by Stew and Heidi Rodewald of Passing Strange fame, Tyondai of Battles and Goran Bregovic, along with tunes by Icelandic pop star Bjork, Swedish experimental metal band Meshuggah, Charles Mingus, Conlon Nancarrow and Frank Zappa.

While many marching bands are heavily choreographed, I’m guessing no other band will be under the dance direction of modern dance choreographer Susan Marshall.

Asphalt has already started rehearsing. And here, thanks to Time Out New York, is a behind-the-scenes video about the group.