Even the Polar Vortex needs to have fun every now and then. This weekend, the warmth and fun of the Caribbean come to Queens in various forms. On March 7th, Flushing Town Hall hosts a tribute to singer and actor Harry Belafonte with Jeff Zúñiga and his band recreating the King of Calypso‘s signature steel-drum tunes, “Day O” call, and such hits as ”Matilda” and “Jamaica Farewell.” On March 8th, Queens Museum kicks off a day of fun at 1 pm with Caribbean storytelling with Michael Manswell, a dancer, singer, choreographer, teaching artist and artistic director who is currently affiliated with the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning and other entities. At 2 pm, teaching artists host a mask-making activity that will lead to participants wearing their masks and dancing to the steel drums around the museum in Carnival style. Then at 3 pm, steel drum expert Patrick Davis and his group give a live concert.
Details: A Tribute to Harry Belafonte, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, March 7th, 8 pm, $15/$10 for students.
Knowledge is power — and it can lead to geek glory at the Queens Museum. The recently renovated Flushing Meadows-Corona Park institution will host a geographical, trivia-based game night at its fabled Panorama of the City of New York (above) on March 7th. Dubbed “The Panorama Challenge,” this friendly contest will be heavy on questions about city landmarks, bridges, neighborhoods and parks. Levy’s Unique New York representatives will pinpoint locations with laser pointers, and participating teams (which can have as many as 10 members) will try to identify the most locations. The winning squad will have its name etched on a trophy (and enter into urban legend, of course). During the first intermission, teams will be able to get extra credit during a special music quiz in honor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Brooklyn in April. And post-quiz, Batala NYC (below), an all-woman Brazilian drum corps, will provide an electrifying performance.
Details: Panorama Challenge, Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (a free shuttle will run to and from the Mets-Willets Point 7 train station), March 7th, 7 pm to 10 pm, $15, includes a Brooklyn Brewery beer, sandwiches and snacks; plus the event raises funds for the City Reliquary Museum.
¡A bailar! The Queens Theatre is about to launch a six-session Latin dance instruction series for just about every taste. The fun begins on February 27th with a free, informal introductory event during which teachers from the Farrington Ballroom Dance School will provide information on the different rhythms and steps. The first actual class will be on Cha-Cha-Cha, which has Cuban origins, on March 6th. The schedule then continues as follows: Tango (Argentina/Uruguay), March 13th; Samba (Brazil), March 20th; Salsa (Cuba, Colombia, Panama, Puerto Rico, et al), March 27th; and Merengue (Dominican Republic), April 3rd. Then at a future date, those who participate in at least three classes will perform in a showcase.
Details: Latin Dance Lessons, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, February 27th to April 3rd, all one-hour classes begin at 7 pm, followed by open dance until 9 pm. $10 single class/$45 for five classes. Skip the class and join open dance at 8 pm for $5 each time.
It’s time for the Muppets to meet the Makers. The New York City public school system will be on vacation next week, but parents don’t need to worry about finding fun, educational and enriching activities during the down time… if they stay in Queens. On February 17th, the New York Hall of Science will kick off Engineering Week with a day of activities and tables run by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Each following day will cover a different engineering concept—from nano to mechanical, accompanied by activities and challenges to put those ideas into practice. The Tuesday focus will be on chemical engineering with a Make Polymer Slime activity. Wednesday will be for nanoengineering, Thursday will go to mechanical engineering with a chance to build rockets, and Friday will feature biology with Zoob inventor Michael Joaquin Grey. Meanwhile over in Astoria, the Museum of the Moving Image will screen 1970s episodes of The Muppet Show. Carol Burnett, Steve Martin and Rita Moreno join Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the Swedish Chef during this series, which will show three episodes a day for the week.
Details: Engineering Week, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, February 17 through February 21st, times vary, $11 for adults/$8 for children 17 and under.
Details: The Muppet Show, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 17th through February 21st, daily at 1 pm, free with admission ($12 adults / $9 seniors and students / $6 children 3–12 / free for Museum members).
Written in 1600, this play is a hilarious comedy about identical twins and mistaken identity, but it also explores the impact of love and mystery. Thus, it’s perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day date or a family entertainment excursion. On February 14th, the Queens Theatre kicks of a three-day, four-show run of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Presented by Aquila Theatre, this modern twist on a timeless classic includes never-before-seen innovation and theatricality and an original score. Attendees can expect shipwrecks, duels, disguises and authentic British accents.
Details: Twelfth Night, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Friday, February 14th, at 2 pm, Saturday, February 15th, at 2 pm and 8 pm, Sunday, February 16th at 3 pm, Perfect for all ages. $42 for Friday’s performance/$49 for Saturday and Sunday performances/$25 for rear side seating for all performances. (Senior discount available, $20 student rush tickets available day of show.)
It’s cold. There are some big football games on television. Laundry awaits. In other words, it’s the perfect time to head to the Queens Zoo. During the winter, the alligators aren’t around, but the meandering marsh is full of ducks and swans doing their thing without worrying about their big-jawed predators. Meanwhile, the Andean bear, American bison and puma roam other areas of the 11-acre venue. The zoo also features an indoor Discovery Center, where a Lunar New Year celebration will take place on February 1st and February 2nd. It’s the year of the horse, and the zoo’s equine residents will be the focus of the activities, which are geared toward children. Scavenger hunts and dragon- and lantern-making will begin at 11 am these days, followed by story time and a dance workshop by the Chinese Theater Works. At 12:30 pm, attendees can spend some time with the horses before the dragon mask parade starts at 3:15 pm.
Details: Lunar New Year Celebration, Queens Zoo, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, February 1st and February 2nd, 11 am to 5 pm, free with admission, $8 adults/$6 seniors/$5 children.
Slamming doors? Got ‘em. Magic tricks? Yes, sir. Borsch Belt slapstick? Plenty. Tap dancing? But, of course. On December 27th, a six-show extravaganza of pure entertainment starts at Queens Theatre. Exit Stage Left features five actors who can do it all in a program reminiscent of Vaudeville at some times — and a three-ring circus at others. Inspired by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the show has received two Drama Desk nominations for Unique Theatrical Experience and a “Spirit of the Fringe” award from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Dentists would probably oppose consuming it, but they might recommend looking at this marvel. This Sunday, the New York Hall of Science will unveil GingerBread Lane, a 1.5-ton, 300-square-foot village with 152 gingerbread houses, 65 trees, four gingerbread cable cars, five gingerbread train cars, an underground candy subway station, candy trees and sugar signage. Ingredients include roughly 1,900 pounds of icing, 400 pounds of candy and 500 pounds of gingerbread dough. Chef Jon Lovitch spent about a year, drafting, designing, baking, building and decorating this metropolis, which sits out in the open, rather than behind glass, so the smell of homemade gingerbread fills the hall.
Details: GingerBread Lane, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, November 17th, 2013 through January 12th, 2014, click for museum hours, free with admission.
Gingerbread House Workshop, December 7th and December 28th. Make a gingerbread house to take home. Free with admission. Limited capacity; signup on day of event; beginning at noon.
GingerBread Lane House Giveway, January 12th. Take a piece of GingerBread Lane home, while supplies last. Two houses per person. Line opens at 10 am, giveaway at noon. Free with admission.
They’re basically balletic gauchos. And like a wild horde, these 13 male dancers (half man/half horse, basically) prance and gallop around the stage with an infectious rhythm, energy and spirit. They stomp their heeled boots or their bare feet to the cadences of a bombo, a drum made of wood and hide. They leap for joy. They hold and turn leather straps called “boleaderos.” And of course, they leave the audience astonished (and exhausted). On November 16th and 17th, the Argentinean dance troupe Che Malambo will perform at Queens Theatre. Originally, the Malambo was a zapateado, or a stomping duel between two macho men. But these guys transformed the genre into an awe-inspiring group performance.
With speeches by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl (above), Queens Museum officially re-opened yesterday after a multi-year, $68 million renovation that doubled its exhibition space and added an atrium with a chandelierlike glass hanging, bookstore and cafe. The Flushing Meadows-Corona Park institution also announced its new name — Queens Museum — without the tailing “of Art” that it had had since its founding. Now the fun starts with Target Wide Open Weekend, featuring special celebrations and inaugural exhibitions. On November 9th, Queens International 2013 artist Vlada Tomova’s Bulgarian Women’s Choir will start things off, followed by Lynley Bernstein’s Come Fish for Snakehead, a 2.5-hour guided fishing trip in park waterways; and the Poets in the Galleries: Tan Lin series, which utilizes the museum’s exhibition space as an invigorating site for exploration, interactive readings and discussions. At 3 pm, the museum will launch An Inclusive World, a group show examining how art transforms the lives of those with a wide array of needs and abilities. The day will continue with Joseph Heathcott’s Brooklyn-Queens Borderlands Virtual Walking Tour on the Panorama; Matthew Volz’s Meanwhile Back in Queens…, a live concert; Llego FeFa 4. Rosa de los Vientos, a performance by Magdalena Maria Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard celebrating the the opening of Citizens of the World: Cuba in Queens; Fujui Wang’s Hyper Transmission New York, a site-specific sound performance capturing locally sampled electromagnetic waves rendered in a specially devised directional speaker; and Joro Boro’s Smuggle Party, a participatory DJ performance mashing up collected tunes from museum visitors’ MP3 players. There are more activities on November 10th and November 11th and other special events throughout November. Click through to see another picture from the event yesterday… (more…)