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BWW Dance Review: Celebrating 10 Years with DANCE PARADE at Decade of Dance

Saturday, May 21, 2016 was a special day. Not because of the many pre-Memorial Day sales in the stores or the beautiful weather we had the few days prior. But mainly because it marked the 10th annual Dance Parade and Festival. This year's theme was Decade of Dance to celebrate 10 years and to showcase the cultural diversity of the world through dance.

For those of you not familiar with the organization, Dance Parade is a nonprofit arts service organization that strives to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form. This was sparked by the Cabaret laws here in New York City of 1926, which requires all bars and clubs to have a license for social dancing. If you were in a place that did not have the appropriate license and you were caught dancing, the police would give you a fine. However, it is felt that this law is old and out of date. In 2006, five groups of dancers sued the City of New York in the case Festa vs. New York City Department of Consumer Affairs arguing that the Cabaret laws are unconstitutional. But, in the New York Supreme Court, it was ruled by Judge Michael J. Stallman that recreational (or social) dance is not a form of expression protected by the law.

While this case was in trial, Greg Miller, now Executive Director of Dance Parade, did a lot of advocacy in opposition of the Cabaret laws and organized a 24 hour dance-a-thon in front of the court house. During this event, each hour represented a different dance style and/or culture. Looking at the event, Miller felt it was wonderful to have so many dancers representing so many different people in one place. He wanted to show that dance is a protected mode of expression which birthed the Dance Parade. Miller wanted to create a platform for all dance styles and form a platform to give the recognition dance and dancers deserve.

I asked Miller, now that it is 10 years later, what makes this year extra special? He talked about how this would be the biggest parade yet with over 150 organizations representing over 80 different styles making it the largest and most diverse celebration of dance in the world! Dance Parade also has received a Mayoral Proclamation delivered by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finklepearl, on behalf of Mayor Bill De Blasio declaring Saturday, May 21, 2016 as New York Dance Parade Day. And finally, this was the first year the parade would be live streamed through the app Give Live available for Apple.

Being at the parade was so much fun! The parade route started at 21st and Broadway, down University Place, and ended with the festival in Tompkin Square Park. I got to watch the parade from the grandstand. The crowd in both the parade and onlookers was so diverse- young, old, dancers, non dancers, and people of all different races and ethnic backgrounds. I saw hip hop, country, butoh, salsa, therapeutic dance, Jamaican dancehall, Bollywood, Korean, Mexican, AfroBrazilian, modern, ballet, and belly dancing just to name a few. It truly shows the power of dance to bring people together! It was great. Although this was my first time, I know it will not be my last!

I also asked Miller, what's in store for the next 10 years? He told me he is looking to expand Dance Parade to other cities where he has already started conversations. So look for them to come to a city near you! He also wants to grow to become a service organizations for both artists and the community. Currently, Dance Parade offers an array of community engagement programs to reach all people in schools, community, and senior centers to use dance as a mode of self-discovery through residencies, workshops and performances.

To learn more about Dance Parade and their activities, please visit their website at www.danceparade.org

Photo Credit: Caryn Cooper

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From This Author Caryn Cooper

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