Archive for the ‘Youth Programs’ Category

Archive: An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with dancer & choreographer Nadia Dieudonne


A Humble Dancer: An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Nadia Dieudonne
By Jessica Senat, HCX Outreach & Communications Intern

The calm before the storm was definitely present at Five Myles on the evening of October 26th. Though Sandy’s unexpected onslaught was still a few states away, many seemed to have taken extra precaution and stayed indoors.
But that didn’t stop fans of Nadia Dieudonne from coming to Haiti Cultural Exchange’s An n’ Pale event which featured the Haitian-American choreographer, dancer and teacher in an intimate discussion, giving the small group a sincere look into the world of a dancer.

Nadia began dancing at an early age. As the youngest of two, she was always determined to live out the dream that her older sister, also a dancer, never had the freedom to do. Nadia’s determination to become a performer strengthened after seeing a performance in Haiti as a young child, forgoing any of her parents’ wishes to become a nurse. “My sister is the oldest so she had to become the Nurse of the family, but they couldn’t get to me. As the younger child, I got away with a lot.”

It was clear Nadia wasn’t concerned with presenting herself as a flashy dance connoisseur, but as someone who, like every creative, is still evolving as an artist and individual- developing her dream one step at a time while making sure to keep her sense of culture and identity intact.

Nadia described how her mother enrolled her in anything and everything Haitian centered, making sure her daughter learned about her culture and heritage: “My mother made sure that everything I did was involved with my culture.”

Losing sense of who you are and where you came from is a battle many artists are all too familiar with and often lost along the way. In between screened clips of past performances, Nadia admitted to how her mother’s cultural drilling affected her whole creative outlook in not only presenting herself as a performer of Haitian descent but in encouraging Haitian youth to embrace this in themselves as well. She has taught dance classes for young girls, who, until this year, given the opportunity to participate in the West Indian Kiddie Parade.

Unfortunately, the youth extension of her studio, Feet of Rhythm Kids has been cut from her offerings.   Nadia cites the cause as a lack of funding and recalls the purchasing of fabric and the designing of the elaborate parade costumes -a venture she admitted to being fulfilling but costly: “I have so many things that I would like to do or continue doing, it’s just the problem of funding that prevents me from moving forward.”

I enjoyed and appreciated her humility and honesty. I know some visual and performing artists who aren’t the richest creative force out there, but they are never one to be so blunt about it (unless they’re the proud starving artist types, a whole different story.) It is comforting to know that there are artists who can be relatable while genuinely portraying their own unique talent and flair. Nadia brilliantly exhibited both these qualities with humor and humility.

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Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs wraps up the season at Tastes of Brooklyn


Krik:Krak! Storytelling & Songs wraps up the season at Tastes of Brooklyn
October 2012

On Saturday, October 20th, HCX hosted the last session of a four-part series of Krik:Krak! Storytelling and Songs at Brooklyn Borough Hall as part of Tastes of Brooklyn. Tastes of Brooklyn is a local food festival supporting Seeds in the Middle, the only local farmer’s market in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

The unusually warm and sunny Fall afternoon had most of us in shorts or short sleeves. The plaza was busy, with families trying to juice the last bit of summer out of the city. Under a canopy tent, on a big blue rug in the center of the festival, chairs gathered around and both children and parents looked interested in something to entertain them while they drank the first early autumn batch of Buzzard Crest Vineyard grape juice (snuck over the boundary from the Borough Hall greenmarket) and savored delightful bites such as the bready, veggy, well-herbed goodness of rebollita (a tuscan bread soup which literally translated to “reboiled” prepared by Locanda Vini e Olii).

Storytelling was led by musician and performer Goussy Celestin with drumming by Jean Marie Brignol. Goussy wove Haitian folktales and songs as children and parents sang along as they munched on local Brooklyn restaurants’ gourmet tastes. Though the audience was very diverse and the tales unfamiliar to most, the stories brought some real laughs and sighs from the audience. “Bouki Dances the Kokioko” culled from collected folkstories in Diane Wolkstein’s The Magic Orange Tree made children giggle as Goussy mimicked the erratic and silly dance moves of Bouki trying to impress the king. Goussy also read Running the Road to ABC by Denize Lauture, a beautifully illustrated alphabetical tale that follows a group of children in the Haitian countryside and their crack-of-dawn encounters with creatures and characters on their run to school.

With the conclusion of Krik:Krak! Storytelling & Songs for the 2012 season comes a bit of sadness, but I want to challenge you, story-lovers. Tell your own tales, sing your own songs around a crisp evening fire and keep the Krik? Krak! sounding strong until next year!

Take a minute and read about the rest of this year’s Krik:Krak! Storytelling & Songs here.

We again would like to thank the Brooklyn Arts Council, Community Arts Fund for supporting our Krik: Krak! program.

-Kassandra Khalil
Program Coordinator, HCX

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October 20: Krik:Krak! Storytelling & Songs at Tastes of Brooklyn


Haiti Cultural Exchange will join Taste of Brooklyn for a special session of Krik:Krak Storytelling & Songs, bringing some traditional Haitian folktales to young and old. These stories will incite a love of Haitian myth and color children’s dreams with wonder. Storytelling will be led by New York-based performing artist Goussy Célestin accompanied by distinguished Haitian drummer Jean-Mary Brignol.

WHERE: Brooklyn’s Borough Hall
DATE/TIME: October 20th, Noon-1pm
ADMISSION: Visit Taste of Brooklyn to learn more about attending this event.

Posted in Events, HCX Collaborations, Uncategorized, Youth Programs | No Comments »

Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum


A summer of Krik? Krak! at Haiti Cultural Exchange
by Régine M. Roumain

Krik? Krak! Storytelling and Songs was the very first program established by Haiti Cultural Exchange in 2009.  As we sought to develop our mission of presenting and preserving Haitian heritage, we thought that it was critical to focus on our oral history traditions.

Originally established as an 8-week Saturday program in one location, we realized that the program could have a broader impact if we took it on the road!  We are grateful to Ibi Zoboi, Madafi Pierre and Jennifer Celestin for sharing the folktales and songs with our community!  We are also grateful to Mimi Barthlemy for her extensive collection of Haitian folktales.

Our vision is to create a traveling TAP-TAP that will bring the stories of Bouki & Malice, Tezen, Simbi and HAITI to neighborhoods throughout NYC.  Here is a brief recap of this summer’s program.

Ibi Zoboi opened our summer of Haitian storytelling at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Friday, July 6th, with a resounding KRIK? Children of all ages and backgrounds responded KRAK!

Ibi is a natural storyteller.  She was very comfortable recounting tales of Bouki & Malice; explaining to the children and their families that Bouki & Malice often did bad things – and that the stories were used as lessons for Haitian children as to what NOT to do.  Bouki and Malice ate all of Madan Kalenderic’s eggs and lied!  A big no, no!  Mimi Barthelemy’s tale of “How the Goat Learned to Climb” was quite captivating — with perseverance, we can accomplish much.  Lastly, Edwidge Danticat’s story, “Eight Days”, about the Haiti earthquake was read to the children, most of which had heard about the earthquake.  “Where is Haiti?” asked Ibi.  “What language do they speak there?”  All questions asked were intended for the audience to gain a better understanding of Haiti, the culture and traditions, and brought children and adults together in a moment of shared youth and imagination.

Madafi Pierre, led the second session of Krik:Krak! at the Eastern Parkway Library on Saturday, July 21.  Madafi sang “Panama Mwen Tonbe” and read from her newly published children’s book “Loco’s Lullaby”.  Lastly, Jennifer Celestin, joined HCX on August 3rd at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and regaled the audience of children, parents, and caregivers, with a story about Bouki going to the market and being scared of his own shadow.

Stay tuned for more storytelling and songs with Goussy Celestin this fall!

Posted in Archive, HCX Programs, Krik Krak, Music, Theater, Youth Programs | No Comments »

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