“All Instruments Are Welcome” Jewish Music with Uri Sharlin

Uri Sharlin
Instructor Uri Sharlin

We sat down with Uri Sharlin, the instructor of the Intro Jewish Music for Non-Professional Musicians class, beginning on Wednesday, September 30th. Uri is a Brooklyn-based composer, accordionist player, and arranger. He has worked with prominent musicians Antony and the Johnsons, Natalie Merchant, Avi Avital and Frank London. Uri was also featured as a pianist and composer in the acclaimed HBO series Flight of the Conchords. He is currently leading several groups including the Cardamon Quartet and the DogCat Ensemble and is the creator of Play Me a Story, a musical storytelling performance program for children.

What excites you most about teaching Intro to Jewish Music?

Uri: It is always exciting for me to teach music, and to teach a hands-on class is what I enjoy the most. I am looking forward to have a group of people who have never played together before, and some of whom haven’t touched their instrument for a while, and help them sound good! I will teach various styles and genres within Jewish music and focus on building practical performance skills the students can continue developing and using beyond the class. This program is geared toward performance, and we will have a few of my colleagues join us and enrich our perspective on performance throughout the semester.

Tell us about your experience with Jewish music. 

Uri: I have been involved in the Jewish music world in New York for many years. This summer only I was in Mexico playing Moroccan Jewish music with the master Emil Zerihan, and the following week, teaching up at KlezKanada. I went from a van in the Mexican desert where everybody but me spoke Moroccan to a camp where pretty much everybody is interested in Yiddish…

How did this idea come about?

Uri: For the past few years I have been running the Tikun Leil Shavuot jam session at the 14th Street Y. It is one of my favorite nights here in the city, where musicians meet and create a new piece of music together, in the middle of the night, with the support of amazing crowds of all backgrounds. More than once I had people approach me and say something like – ‘I used to play the accordion, but never like that…how do you guys do it?’ Well, this class is all about that. Ronit (Ronit Muszkatblit, Artistic Director of LABA) was always very supportive of my music and so the class was a natural collaboration for us.

What do you hope to accomplish with the class?

The main goal is to get students of all levels who are playing an instrument, even if not professionally, to gain deeper insight into Jewish music and ensemble playing. We will explore a different genre every week or two. The level of the class, the chosen repertoire, and the demands from the students will be based on the level of the student and their participation. We will do everything possible to accommodate students of all levels and instruments.

Register online today!

Wednesdays, September 30th – December 9th from 7:00 – 8:30pm at the 14th Street Y
For more information, email URI at usharlin@gmail.com

 

“Se Hace Camino al Andar” – The Road is Made as You March

sonia15The Theater at the 14th Street Y is proud to host the Sonia Olla Flamenco Dance Company, presenting two programs: Tablao Sevilla and Por Los Caminos, Wednesday September 9th to Sunday September 13th, 2015.

Sonia Olla, a native of Barcelona, is an internationally recognized dancer and choreographer, known for her impeccable technique and riveting stage presence. She, along with singer Ismael Fernandez, recently worked with Madonna on integrating flamenco into her upcoming international Rebel Heart Tour. You will be able to catch a preview of the program on September 3rd at 8:00pm on PBS’s NYC-Arts.

sonia6Of the two programs being presented, Por Los Caminos is an abstractly autobiographical piece, and will reflect the cultural blend of Latin America, the Middle East, and other dance forms that influence flamenco.

In Sonia’s words:

ESPAÑOL

POR LOS CAMINOS está dedicado al gran poeta emblemático español de la generación del 98 Antonio Machado.  Hacemos referencia  a las estrofas que pertenecen a la sección «Proverbios y cantares» del poemario Campos de Castilla (1912). CAMINANTE NO HAY CAMINO.

En POR LOS CAMINOS hay un conjunto de emociones que  se cruzan en nuestras vidas, diferentes culturas etc, con las cuales hacemos una parada en el camino para investigar y compartir ritmos, melodías, y disfrutar de la magia que se crea y que nos ayudan a crecer  pero sin olvidar de donde venimos, cual es nuestra raíz y quienes somos.

sonia5Está compuesto por 6 artistas cante más tradicional flamenco con una cantante Pakistany, una guitarra tradicional junto a otra más moderna y dos bailes flamencos capaces de conectar con otros mundos y donde se puede ver el flamenco desde el punto de vista masculino y femenino.


ENGLISH

POR LOS CAMINOS is dedicated to Antonio Machado, the great emblematic poet of Spain. Antonio Machado was one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement known as “La Generación del 98,” the Generation of ’98, which consisted of a group of novelists, poets, essayists, and philosophers active in Spain at the time of the Spanish–American War in 1898. Sonia Olla and Ismael Fernández make reference to the stanzas that pertain to the “Songs & Proverbs” section of his great work Campos de Castilla (1912).

sonia4In POR LOS CAMINOS, there is an ensemble of emotions that connects to our own lives, and varied cultural experiences. We carry these on our path towards investigating and sharing rhythms, melodies, and enjoying the magic that is created and that we help to grow- without forgetting where we come from, our roots, or who we are.

It consists of 6 artists: a traditional flamenco singer, a Pakistani singer, a traditional flamenco guitarist side-by-side with a modern guitarist, and two flamenco dancers- able to connect to other worlds, where you can see flamenco from a male and female point of view.

Get tickets here.

Wednesday Sept. 9 – Tablao Sevilla at 8pm
Friday Sept. 11 – Por Los Caminos at 8pm
Saturday Sept. 12 – Por Los Caminos at 3pm & 8pm
Sunday Sept. 13 – Tablao Sevilla at 3pm

Caminante son tus huellas ….. The road you march, lonely wanderer
El camino, y nada mas ….. It’s just your tracks, nothing much.
Caminante no hay camino ….. There is no road, lonely wanderer
Se hace camino al andar ….. The road is made as you march

Antonio Machado, “Caminante Son Tus Huellas”

 

$14 at 14Y – Dance Series Launch

The Theater at the 14th Street Y is excited to announce our 2015-2016 Dance Subscription Series, $14 at 14Y. Join our subscription today and choose any 3 shows for $42 – that breaks down to just $14 per ticket!

Check out our eight professional companies below to create your custom series!

Sonia Olla Flamenco Dance Company – Flamenco

As an Internationally recognized dancer and choreographer, Sonia Olla is known for her impeccable technique and riveting  stage presence. Get a preview here.

Zullo: Raw Movement – Immersive Dance

Zullo/RawMovement is exploring ideas and concepts from our cultural landscape that are transformed into works that are expressive, imaginative and explosive. Check them out here.

BARE Dance Company – Contemporary

BARE’s versitile approach to movement has been described as “smart, effective, technically accomplished work.” – Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times. Watch now.

of bones || hollye bynum – Contemporary, Film

of bones || hollye bynum seeks to find commonalities between dance and viewer by introspectively exploring the human experience. See for yourself here.

Joffrey Ballet School – Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet School transforms passionate dance students into versatile, individualistic artists able to collaborate and evolve fluidly in a fast-changing society. Watch them here.

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble – Contemporary, Theatre

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble’s aim is to recreate works choreographed by Anna Sokolow, continue her teachings, and develop her artistic vision for the purpose of passing on for posterity. See their work here.

From the Horse’s Mouth – Various

From the Horse’s Mouth celebrates the “heart and history of dance” with outstanding dancers and choreographers of all ages and traditions, performing together and telling their extraordinary personal stories. Catch a glimpse here.

American Tap Dance Foundation – Tap

ATDF is committed to establishing and legitimizing tap dance as a vital component of American dance through creation, presentation, education and preservation. Tap along here.

KALEIDOSCOPE – “What Does Jewish Look Like?”

We sat down with Israel Bitton, an actor in the upcoming show KALEIDOSCOPE taking place July 15-19 2015 in The Theater here at the 14th Street Y. Kaleidoscope asks and answers the question, What does Jewish look like? Effectively exploring and validating diversity with the Jewish community.
Actor Brian Britton
Actor Israel Bitton

How did you get involved in KALEIDOSCOPE? 

Several years back I stumbled upon HBO’s Def Jam Poetry when Vanessa Hidary appeared and so passionately delivered a great performance of her piece “The Hebrew Mamita.” It struck a chord. I was proud that she was ‘representin’ us, and at the same time it occurred to me that one day I’d love to do the same. Then I saw her post this project, and it was just an obvious and immediate entry point for me.
 
What has the creative process been like?
Challenging. Rewarding. Vanessa and Kendell, through the workshop portion of this project, have helped each cast member reach into our personal histories so that we can craft monologues that are both deeply personal and still entertaining for audiences.
 
How do you view and identify yourself?
The world would peg me as a Modern-Orthodox Sephardic American Jew, but I don’t believe nationality, culture or observance level to be an essential part of my identity. It’s only a flavoring, and therefore I simply identify myself as a Jew.
 
What would you say defines you as a Jewish identifying person?
My kippah. My name (Yisrael Barouch). My soul.
 
Can you tell us about what you will be performing at KALEIDOSCOPE?
I explore my journey from being one of the few Sephardic kids in an all-Ashkenazi school system, the trials and tribulations that come along with that experience, my attempt to invent a new identity for myself, to coming to terms with my name, and ultimately, accepting my full identity as a means for true personal growth.
 
What have you been most surprised about and/or learned the most about during this process?
Aside from the very practical enhancement to writing and performance skills, I’m most surprised by just how diverse our cast really is. As someone who has a unique backstory and perspective, I generally have a broad worldview that allows me to see people beyond the stereotypes. And still, I thought that there would be so many similarities between the cast members that some stories would be redundant. Not so. If you’ll see the first black Jewish cast member perform, and when the second comes up you’ll think you now know what to expect, well, you’ll be surprised at just how unique every individual is. The end lesson, even for me as a cast member, is that despite being told we’re too different, or not good enough, we’re all essentially one and the same. And though we share a common thread that essentially connects us, that connection doesn’t have to compromise our right to self-discovery and the assuming of our unique identities, backgrounds, stories and trajectories.
 
 In the end, people that watch these performances will certainly be challenged to broaden their conception of what constitutes the Jewish identity.

XpuKM2HM63vBbEctGntYKC1DL-k8M3xc4pKds5QGB5MThe 14th Street Y and The Hebrew Mamita Present:

Kaleidoscope

Developed and Directed by Vanessa Hidary
July 15-19, 2015

Get tickets HERE.

Vivid Reflections. Boldly Diverse. Distinctly Jewish.

The World Premiere of Kaleidoscope, a multi-media project and monologue showcase sparked by a desire to highlight Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and observance levels, will be presented at The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th Street, on July 15th and 16th at 8pm, and on July 19 at 3pm.

Through extensively crafted, deeply personal stories, Kaleidoscope will delve into the ever-popular question “What does Jewish look like to you?” The diverse and talented cast includes performers of a wide range of ethnicities, including Moroccan, British, Jamaican, Ethiopian, Libyan, and Puerto Rican.

The Mar Vista in The DANCE Enthusiast

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Yehuda Hyman/ Mystical Feet Company About “THE MAR VISTA” and Wartime Romance

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Yehuda Hyman/ Mystical Feet Company About “THE MAR VISTA” and Wartime Romance

Published on June 1, 2015

Photo © Paula Court

Presented by LABA, a laboratory for Jewish culture.

Creative Credits:

Artistic Director & Choreographer: Yehuda Hyman

Performers: Yehuda Hyman, Ron Kagan, Dwight Kelly and Amanda Schussel

Costume Designer: Amy Page

Performance Details:

When: June 11-14, 2015

Where: The Theater at the 14th Street Y, East 14th Street (14th St & lst Ave)

Tickets: $18 presale, $22.50 at the door. Call 646-395-4310 or buy online.

More info HERE.

THE MAR VISTA is performed in 3 parts:

I:  Hamsa, a solo performed by Hyman, deals with curses, Passover, the 10 plagues and his father.

II:  Leaning Into Moisture, a duet for Hyman and Amanda Schussel, concerns his mother and her forbidden wartime romance in Istanbul.

III:  Cincinnati takes place in Cincinnati in 1951. Specifically, on the night that Hyman’s father proposed to his mother – in a hurry.


Yehuda Hyman and Amanda Schussel in Part II – “Leaning into Moisture.” © Paula Court.

Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: Tell me about Mystical Feet Company. When was it founded? Why the endearing name?  What qualities characterize your dance troupe?

Yehuda Hyman, Artistic Director of Mystical Feet Company: This engagement marks the premiere of Yehuda Hyman/Mystical Feet as an entity, but is something I have been building for the last four years. You might say that it was officially founded in December 2014 when I gathered a small group of performing artists whom I was very interested in collaborating with. Mystical Feet is a dance/theater company, which is about making dances, telling stories and weaving spells – I think that says what we do.

Why “feet” and not Mystical Fingers or Mystical Elbows? Well, a few reasons. First: for many years, I have been working with Hasidic tales that delve into the world of Jewish mysticism. The tale “7 Beggars” told by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in 1810 concerns seven beggars, each with a disability, which is in fact their greatest gift. The seventh Beggar in the story has no feet. This beggar, appearing footless to our world, actually has the most dynamic feet.  There is an interpretation, which calls to me, that when this footless beggar dances, the entire world will be transformed and perfected. Another reason is: as a 15-year old dance student, I came to New York to audition for a scholarship to study with a dance school in Europe. I had only been studying ballet for about a year, but I had a fervent desire to dance. I entered a class taught by a very famous ballet teacher at the time (I will never say who). The class was packed with about 50 dancers. The teacher walked by me as I did my téndus and said in an extremely loud and theatrical voice: “Young man, you have the ugliest feet I have ever seen!” I laugh about it now and actually, even at the time I thought it was funny. I love the idea of what is considered the lowest being the highest. Our feet are the lowest point on our bodies, but they touch the earth and through that connection, we have the potential to turn things upside down… Mystical Feet!

Yehuda Hyman performs solo in Part I – “Hamsa.” © Paula Court.

TDE: Is this your first time working with LABA or have you collaborated prior? How is THE MAR VISTA inspired by Jewish texts?

YH: LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, which is in residence at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan, has a Fellowship Program. I was a LABA Fellow for 2013/2014. It was a fabulous experience. We would meet as a group at least once a month to study ancient Jewish texts, discuss, dissect, and eat! Every LABA Fellowship year has a different theme – mine was “Mother.” As soon as I saw that on the application I knew I had to be in the “Mother” year as I had been gathering material to make a piece about my mother since 2000.  It was time to do this.

In our monthly study sessions we looked at the great, hot-blooded sexy mothers of the Jewish scriptures: Eve, Sara, et cetera. Our sessions were led by Ruby Namdar, a brilliant writer and scholar. The sessions were always provocative and sometimes more than that. Immersing myself in mythic tales of the Jewish matriarchs in a completely uncensored forum freed me to create the second part of The Mar Vista on a deeper level than I had previously been able to get to with this project.

Srul Chait (Charles Hyman) and Sara Güver Hyman: Hyman’s parents on their wedding day in 1951.

TDE: THE MAR VISTA synthesizes dance, gesture, spoken word, improvisation and ritual. Does merging various art forms help fill in the gaps in your ‘fractured memoir’?

YH: There are dances that can only be made with words, there are poems that can only be danced by the hands. Whatever it takes, whatever form it takes to tell the story, to express the emotion that must be expressed, that is the form it takes. In our process of making work, we often go along telling the tale as a dance, and then suddenly it reaches a point and must be told in words. Our stories are told backwards and forwards and sideways too. My feet are in many worlds, many different dance languages: flamenco, Bharata Natyam, Eastern-European folk dance. I am a playwright and a poet. During rehearsals, we frequently sit and write before we make our dances. I use the term, “fractured memoir” because there are many breaks in the story – parts that I actually don’t know (my father did not communicate much of his history to me) and parts that I don’t know how to tell.

TDE: The work is also a love letter to Mar Vista, your colorful childhood neighborhood in Los Angeles. How did growing up in the City of Angels inform your artistic upbringing?

YH: During my childhood summers, my mother would gather my sister and brother and me, haul us on to the bus, and we’d be at the beach, in the water, from morning till sundown. I am a child of the Pacific Ocean and it’s in my blood. Also, I was literally born in Hollywood in a hospital that used to be on Sunset Boulevard. It’s a Scientology Center now! Hollywood, illusion, Technicolor magic, big stories – this is part of who I am.

As a 12-year old, I would stand outside 20th Century Fox Studios waiting for a glimpse of Barbra Streisand (she was filming “Hello Dolly” at the time). The space, the sun, the ocean, the actual “lack” of community formed me and is probably present in my work. I don’t know if I would actually call this show a “love letter” to Mar Vista. My childhood in the West Los Angeles neighborhood was equal parts wonderment and pain. Just so you know – this piece, THE MAR VISTA, is conceived as a two-part evening. The first part, presented this June, has everything to do with the longing for the sea (you will know why when you come), but is only briefly set in the actual neighborhood of Mar Vista. Most of Part I of THE MAR VISTA is about the separate stories of my parents – as witnessed by the adult me – and how they came together in a most unlikely romance.

13-year old Sara Güver Hyman (Yehuda Hyman’s mother) with a tambourine in Istanbul.

TDE: Part II of THE MAR VISTA addresses your mother’s forbidden wartime romance in Istanbul. When my grandparents fell in love, their romance too, was verboten. I believe that falling in love under complicated circumstances can often result in stronger relationships. Do you?

YH: Ooh – I’d love to hear about your grandparent’s verboten romance. I love stories, always have – I can sit and listen to people’s stories for a very long time. My mother’s two-year affair during World War II in Istanbul was the strongest and most lasting romantic connection of her entire life (this was according to her – and relayed to me after my father’s death). It was a romance that could not possibly continue, for reasons that will be obvious to the audience of THE MAR VISTA. I can’t tell you about my mother’s romance because I don’t want to ruin the experience of discovering it when you see the show. My mother was “romantic” from the tips of her Gypsy feet to the ends of her expressive dancing fingers. Romantic, alas, almost always implies a complication, a longing for something that can’t be.

TDE: Which is your favorite part of the performance? I know it’s diplomatic to say you like a show in its entirety, but there’s always a part you’re particularly pleased with or proud of.

YH: Oh… the hard question. It changes every day and we are still very much in the process making the third part of our show, “Cincinnati, 1951.” Right now, there’s a part where the performers, Amanda Schussel, Ron Kagan and Dwight Richardson Kelly, are telling-dancing the history of my mother’s pre-marriage romances. There were a few! The music in the background is an extraordinarily beautiful rendition of the song, “Historia de un Amor” in a 1950s recording by Luis Alberto del Paraná and the group Los Paraguayos. There is a moment where Amanda, playing my mother at age 32, is dancing an erotic duet with Dwight who is playing a Rumanian Furrier. Ron, playing my father, a Polish tailor is taking my mother’s measurements with a tailor’s measuring tape as she’s dancing with the Furrier. I (as myself) am observing the whole thing. I think it’s simultaneously beautiful, hot, funny, sad, and probably inappropriate. I like it.

It’s a GALA countdown!

14stYGala_5.14.2015

There’s a reason for everyone to attend our Gala on Thursday, May 14th.

5. The GALA is a Zero Waste event! 

With reusable dishes and silverware, recycling of programs and posters and composting of any delicious food not immediately devoured, It’s a Gorgeous night of fun, with a teeny, tiny footprint.

4.  A delectable silent auction.

Escape to Montauk or the coast of Italy, talk shop with acclaimed chefs and film critics, go backstage at a Jones Beach concert, tour the New York Times offices or the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute… PLUS a selection of sports tickets and dining, culture and entertainment items from Hyatt, Joanna Vargas Salon, Live! with Kelly and Michael, One Five Hospitality, STK, the 14th Street Y and much more. Take a look, be inspired and bid away!

3.  A chance to shine!

the 14th Street Y dresses up almost as beautifully as you do. Our theater will bring the breezy warm late spring weather indoors, with a sophisticated atmosphere perfect for music from DJ Rabbi Darkside, delicious food, performances and the great company of people just like you.

Gorgeous people dance to DJ Rabbi Darkside.
Gorgeous people dance to DJ Rabbi Darkside.

4.  Speaking of food…

Taboonette.  “The emphasis here is on fresh articulated flavors and ingredients from signature “Middleterranean” pallet, merging the kitchens of the Middle East and Mediterranean with some home-style recipes and love for hospitality.”

5.  Catie Lazarus.

Catie Lazarus and guests Robert Smigel, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mo Rocca, and Lady Rizo - Employee of The Month - The Bell House - September 18, 2013
CATIE LAZARUS– Comedian and host of popular podcast “Employee of the Month”

Catie Lazarus is a writer, talk show host, and Artist-in-Residence at Joe’s Pub. Gothamist calls her “One of the Finest Live Talk Show Hosts in New York City,” and Lewis Black said she is, “more brilliant than she will ever know.”  Lazarus has  hosted multiple web series, some animated or starring puppets; and hosts her own weekly podcast and monthly live show Employee of the Month. She even scored Jon Stewart’s first interview after he announced he was leaving the Daily Show. And she’s OUR Master of Ceremonies. You won’t want to miss it!

We haven’t even mentioned the best reason of all.  Attending the Gala means supporting everything you love about the Y. Every fitness, arts, early childhood, preschool, basketball, swim or camp program is made better by your support!

Get your tickets today!

Top 5 Reasons YOU Should DO TTSC!

We think you’ll love the Teen Theater Summer Camp – but don’t just take our word for it!
Julia Thurston, former TTSC student and current intern, tells us why TTSC is for you: 
Julia performs from Williams Shakespeare's
Julia performs from William Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” at TTSC 2014.

I love seeing plays, writing, performing, and acting, and I hope to do all of these in my pursuit of theater in college next year. I found out about the Teen Theater Summer Camp at the 14th Street Y through the MCC Theater Youth Company, a free after-school acting and playwriting company for NYC high school students, which I’ve been involved with since 2011.

I absolutely LOVED my two weeks at TTSC last year, and I’m so excited to be this year’s intern!
So, here are the top 5 reasons why YOU should do TTSC!
  1. You’ll form instant connections.
    It doesn’t matter if you come to TTSC with your best friend or if everyone there is a complete stranger –through improv games and icebreakers the first day, you’ll open up to your new peers and be laughing with them at lunch a few hours later, and by the time you perform your showcase at the end of the two weeks, you’ll practically be family! It’s an awesome way to make new friends with people who love theater just as much as you do.
  2. You’ll learn all about the crazy world of auditioning. (And it will be fun!)
    Over the 2 weeks at TTSC last summer, I learned a contemporary monologue AND a Shakespeare monologue, and performed one of them for a mock audition just over a week later! If that sounds scary, don’t worry — you’ll learn all about how to combat nerves and even use them to your advantage when acting and singing for an audition, as well as how to dress and introduce yourself. For me, that experience REALLY paid off for my college auditions over the winter!
  3. You’ll perform your own writing.
    In your afternoon session, you’ll get to work on writing and performing your own short plays in small groups — last year we had conversations about and performed theater for social justice, focusing on issues that were prevalent in our lives as teens, such as bullying and the portrayals of women in the media. Pretty fascinating topics, right? We were able to tell about our experiences and bring these issues to light through our art, which is really cool (and quite unique.)
  4. You’ll meet all kinds of theater artists. 
    From your teaching artists (who may specialize in acting, Shakespeare, music, dance, or all of the above!) who you learn from everyday, to the multi-disciplinary theater guest artists that you meet along the way, you’ll learn that there are more ways to make a career in theater than you could ever imagine! You might meet professional playwrights, theater educators, actors, (and many more), find out about how they chose their path, and how they got to where they are today. You might be inspired to pursue something you never even knew existed before!
  5. You’ll be doing what you love.
    If you’re at all interested in theater, acting, or performing, there’s something for everyone at TTSC. You may fall in love with acting after working on a monologue or song with a teacher, or might find out that Shakespeare isn’t as scary as you thought! You may even try your hand at playwriting, directing, or physical comedy. And everybody loves improv games! (You’ll probably break out into a spontaneous game of Zip Zap Zop or Bus Stop with your new friends during lunch!) I promise by the time you take your final bow, you’ll want to do it all again!

Create. Perform. Inspire. Lead.

Hey everyone! Ashley here, Camp Director of the Teen Theater Summer Camp at the 14th Street Y. I grew up spending just about every summer at a camp very similar to our theater camp in Southern California. I met some of my best friends to this day in that program. Some of the alumni have gone on to perform on Broadway, some are working in film and TV in Los Angeles. Some are teachers, some are lawyers, some are opera singers, some are engineers. Regardless of what you study in college or what industry you end up working in, having theater in your life as a young person is an unforgettable and invaluable experience.

Our mission at TTSC is “Create. Perform. Inspire. Lead.” This summer, we are bringing together a community of unique and diverse theater companies and artists to empower our students in these four areas. Stay tuned for future posts announcing our programming partners who will work with our students to:

CREATE their own theater in workshops and breakout sessions, while developing theater technique.

PERFORM in two students showcases for an audience of family and friends and a mock audition workshop for a panel of theater professionals.

INSPIRE others through the creation of new theater based on issues facing young people in NYC.

LEAD fellow students as they work collaboratively and receive mentorship from guest artists and staff.

We are gearing up for another amazing summer of acting, singing, dancing, directing, creating, and sharing. All that’s missing is you! Register here! 14th Street Y members save on registration. Want to bring a friend? You’ll save an additional $100 on your registration! Email athaxton@14streety.org with any questions.

Thaxton Ashley  - 1092Ashley Renee Thaxton is the Camp Director of the Teen Theater Summer Camp at the 14th Street Y, originally from Southern California. A graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School, she is a theater artist, educator, and arts administrator. In the fall, she will begin her MFA at Brooklyn College in Acting. Learn more at www.ashleyreneethaxton.com

This Weekend at the Y: Purim Fun for Everyone

by Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director

Purim is a holiday that is a thankful and joyful affirmation of Jewish survival, focused on joy and hope. We celebrate an ancient tale–the Book of Esther (aka the Megillah)– to remind us that we celebrate our remembered escape from persecution by generous acts towards those who are currently in need.

At the Y, we are excited to invite everyone in the neighborhood to celebrate together this weekend, at Pause/Play on Saturday, 2/28 and at a LABAKids concert on Sunday, 3/1. 

Saturday’s Pause/Play  will feature many celebratory Purim themed activities such as juggling, art (making masks), games and sports with our wonderful New Country Day Camp staff. Kids are encouraged to come in costume and join in a Purim Parade.  Adults can participate in activities with their children, or separately in two very special activities just for them.

Childcare and kid drop off activities are available!

On Sunday, enjoy LABAKIDS Purim concert together with your kids. Come in your favorite costume, make masks for an animal parade and take snapshots with our photo booth!

Each of these events are fun and accessible ways to get into the Purim spirit.  Everyone is welcome.

Traditionally, there are four observances for Purim–and each one has ways to engage at the 14th Street Y:

  1. Retelling the Purim story, frequently with humor and levity, dressed up in costumes as the characters in the story. This weekend at the Y, you can wear a costume to Saturday’s Pause/Play, bring toddlers in costume to our singalong at 4:00PM with Debbie Brukman, and party at the LABAKIDS concert on Sunday.
  1. Having a majestic celebratory feast, which traditionally includes healthy adults getting drunk. We hope that you will come enjoy delicious snacks at Pause/Play sponsored by Colson Patisserie and Sweet Loren, and that adults will drop off their kids at NCDC classes and come to the whisky tasting at 4:45PM with Dan Friedman.
  1. Giving financial gifts (tzedakah or charity) to those in need (matanot l’evyonim)
  2. Giving care packages of food and other treats to our friends and neighbors (mishloach manot).

As you decide how to give to your friends and to those in need, come chat with NY Times “Your Money” Columnist Ron Lieber as he discusses his new book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money–and think with your neighbors about how to raise kids with excellent values who know how to save, splurge, and give in meaningful ways.

We hope to see you all this weekend for a wonderful celebration!

Keeping it Green at the 14th Street Y

Kids in our After School, Preschool, and “Now We Are Three” program are always busy learning, growing and thinking about ways to be kind to the world and to each other.

Recently, all of these programs spent some time creating green themed projects, Preschool and Now We Are Three in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the Holiday for trees, and After School as part of a whole day of greening.

After School  Counselor Mauricio had the idea to create carnival games out of recycled cardboard.
After School Counselor Mauricio had the idea to create carnival games out of recycled cardboard.
wack a clown
After School kids spent 13 weeks planning and creating games like this one.  The entire After School community got a chance to try them out on ‘greening day’!
bin it to win it
Would you know where to bin it? After School kids play “Bin it to Win it”, and learn when and how to recycle. And when to compost!
house 301 tree
House 301 in our Preschool created this beautiful tree in honor of Tu B’ Shevat. We like to remember the good work the trees are doing to bring us fruits and leaves when spring comes back again.
tree preschool
Preschool House 305 made this ‘present tree’ which you can see when you climb the stairs at the 14th Street Y!
trees tu b'shevat
There are so many ways to use the beauty of nature in the art that we do. We are looking forward to spring!