THE BUZZ: Celebrating women’s traditions at the Half Sky Festival

May 15, 2012 Denise Romano
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This spring, people from all over the borough can enjoy the Half Sky Festival, presented by the Brooklyn Arts Council, which celebrates women’s traditions all over the world. Through June 10, there will be dance and music performances by women from countries like Brazil, Haiti and Sudan.

I wanted to do a festival that would focus on women who are members of traditional communities in Brooklyn because a lot of times they really don’t get that much of the spotlight,” explained Kay Turner, director of folk arts program at BAC and curator of the program. “A lot of the traditions that women do in different cultural groups are more hidden and more domestic in practice. I really wanted to highlight how wonderful these traditions are that we are not privy to all the time.”

One of the highlights of the program is “High Strung Women,” taking place on May 10, at Jalopy in Red Hook. “It’s a folk music venue where women will play string instruments,” Turner said. “Sarah Alden is a fiddle player who plays in American and Balkan violin traditions. Hilary Hawke is a banjo player – the banjo is having quite a resurgence right now.”

On Saturday, May 12 “Folk Feet Females” will be performed at the Kumble Theater for Performing Arts at Long Island University. “The range of traditions will be extended to Polish to Palestinian to African diaspora. There is just going to be a lot for people to see,” Turner said. “That event will have very lively costumes. It will be visually spectacular.”

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Closing out that performance is Indian dancer Parijat Desai and her dance company using traditional forms in new ways. “They do a really interesting presentation of traditional Indian dance using post-modern choreography,” Turner explained.

Turner said that the Bachelorette Bash closing party is June is “different from anything I have tried to do before.” It will feature food and ceremonies surrounding weddings and pre-weddings from around the globe at the Mosque of the Crimean Turks-American Association in Borough Park.

“It should be really a lot of fun. Seeing as a lot of traditions that women perform are centered around marriage, birth and children, it gives us an opportunity to look at cultures in Guyana, to Egypt to the Ukraine,” Turner concluded.

For the full Half the Sky Festival Schedule or for more information, visit

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