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St. Mary's Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, November 3, 2008

From The Bronx To Broadway, St. Mary's Show Stoppers 'Got Rhythm'

The dancers of the St. Mary’s Show Stoppers
Photo by Angel Gerena

For three years Parks has partnered with High 5 Tickets to the Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating young, motivated audiences for the arts. High 5 offers teens both inexpensive and free tickets to dance, theater, music, film, museums and more. This past year, teens from our Recreation Centers attended such performances as Alvin Ailey Dance at City Center, Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Joyce Theatre, and Jazz Battle at Jazz at Lincoln Center. They saw off-Broadway shows such as In the Heights and Till the Break of Dawn. For many teens, this was their first time attending a professional theatre or dance performance.

Earlier this year, High 5 called Mary Polemarhakis, Director of Program Development, with tickets to see Arturo O’Farrell and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra at Symphony Space on January 25. Mary immediately thought of the St. Mary’s teens and called Tessie Marrero. Tessie teaches close to 200 Afterschool children and teens to dance, from ballet to hip-hop to mambo, at St. Mary’s and runs the St. Mary’s Show Stoppers, a mambo dance group. The Stoppers have performed at a number of Parks events and they are always exciting to watch. So, on a cold January night, the dance group warmed up to the hot rhythms of Arturo O’Farrell and his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. They were so taken with the music that, against Tessie’s wishes, they jumped up from their seats and began dancing in the aisles. Out of the corner of his eye, Arturo O’Farrell noticed the perfect rhythm and mambo steps of the young dancers. He was so taken with the dance group that he invited them on stage and they continued dancing for the whole audience. The crowd cheered them on. It was a night to remember for all.

The St. Mary’s Show Stoppers were so memorable for Arturo O’ Farrell and the High 5 team that they were invited to dance with him again months later. This past Monday night, Arturo O’Farrell and his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra were the opening act at the Spotlight on High 5 Gala. The dance group shared the stage with them at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square making their “Broadway debut.” They even met and had their photos taken with the Gala’s emcee, the 2008 Tony Award winner, star and creator of In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda. The St. Mary’s Show Stoppers danced their way into the hearts of all who saw their electrifying performance – and almost stole the show. Wepa!

Submitted by Recreation

ECO-TIP OF THE DAY:

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(1917 – 1986)

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