Danza Highbridge Festival 2018

by Michael Mahany | 9/20/2018 7:40 PM

Photo credit: Luke Polhrom

The United Palace of Cultural Arts is gearing up for the third annual Danza Highbridge Festival on September 22nd. The, now yearly, late summer outdoor dance festival takes place in the drained Highbridge Park swimming pool, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan.

Cassie Nordgren, a remarkable New York City choreographer, brings her passion for sharing and celebrating dance with the uptown community and curates the concert. Nordgren is known for her work with respective Emmy and Emmy-nominated choreographers Josh Bergasse and Al Blackstone, choreographing the films Waiting In The Wings and Waiting In The Wings II, and her non-profit dance initiative company ThruLines.

“In the past, I have sought out companies and choreographers to create work for the Danza Highbridge Festival,” Nordgren told Dance Network. “In hopes of reaching beyond artists and companies I personally know, we had an application process for this year’s festival. We had about thirty applicants of which eight were selected for the performance. There are nine artists and companies in total including the Dance Project of Washington Heights.”

Nordgren began working with United Palace of Cultural Arts a few years ago after she worked with Dance Project Washington Heights, herself. Since then, she’s worked as the resident choreographer, artistic director, and curator of the Danza events through UPCA.

Dance fans can look forward to works choreographed by a multitude of dance creators from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, celebrating the vast array of diversity in upper Manhattan. Dances ranging in style from Jazz, Modern, and Contemporary, to Indian, Bachata, Theatre Dance will all be presented.

Stephanie Klemmons, known for her work as Global Dance Supervisor for Hamilton, choreographed “Mi Gente” for the 2017 Danza Highbridge Festival.

Choreographers include A. Tan Dance, Arianne Meneses, Brinda Guha Kalamandir Dance Company, Dance Project of Washington Heights, Daniel Gold, Mallory Pettee, Navarra Novy-Williams, Segarra Dance Theatre Projects, and Nordgren’s own, ThruLines.

According to BroadwayWorld reporting, those attending can expect to see performances by: Samantha Barriento (Ailey II), Stephanie Brooks (42ND STREET, WHITE CHRISTMAS), Michael Dauer (CHICAGO), Joseph Fierberg (ELF), Drew Fountain (River North Dance Chicago), Mary Kate Hartung (FINDING NEVERLAND), Alex Jenkins (Lines Ballet), Matthew John Lynady (Radio City), Ramita Ravi (SYTYCD), Daniel Switzer (WICKED, NEWSIES),

Isabel Umali (SLEEP NO MORE), Jamie Askey, Jordan Betscher, Cassie Broussard, Monica Cioffi, Kayla Coutts, Lydia Dawson, Taylor DeNapoli, Marie DiNorcia, Tyler Eisenreich, Logan Epstein, Alyssa Filoramo, Darrin French, Morgan Gillott, Jorge Guerra, Taylor Habershaw, Misaki Hayama, Hannah Jennens, Lina Jonnerhag, Angela Joy, Jacob Lacopo, Ali Kerner, Amanda Krapp, Joey Kummert, Stephanie Lim, Tyler Logan, Caleb Marshall, Darren McArthur, Natasha McCandless, Taylor McMahon, Juliette Nieves, Riley O'Rourke, Rashmi Rajendran, Kelley Reid, Samuel Ryder, Ximena Salgado, Candice Segarra, Montana Sholars, Julia Sitch,

Kristi Smith, Tyler Sparacio, Melissa Strain, Anna Tan, Cameron Turner, Morgan Unger, Victoria Vikstrom, Giorgia Vitali, Shannon Walsh, Kendall Walker, Adam Wedesky, Betty Weinberger, and the students from the Dance Project of Washington Heights.

“Each of the artists brings something unique and beautiful to the pool,” Nordgren said. The Highbridge pool is an empty Olympic sized wading pool that used each year for the performance.

Highlights to which attendees can look forward?

“Brinda Guha’s Contemporary Indian choreography will open the show, I saw her work with the Kalamandir Dance Company this past spring and they are stunning,” Nordgren said. “Also, Navarra Novy-Williams’ collaboration with Alex Jenkins, Isabel Umali, and composer and saxophone player Sam Ryder is something I am personally looking forward to. Sam will be playing his original music live at the show.”

“The local dancers from the Dance Project of Washington Heights— a pay-what-you-can dance studio in residence at the United Palace— provide the ‘cute factor’ we need for the show,” Nordgren continued. “They are performing Bachata, and their teacher, Ximena Salgado, is leading the community in a group dance party following the performance that we are appropriately calling, Fiesta Latina!”

Highlights from the 2017 Danza Highbridge Festival.

Those attending are encouraged to bring a towel, blanket, or beach chair to watch. The doors of the event open at 4pm, and the show begins at 5pm. The Highbridge pool is located in Highbridge Park at 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in northern Manhattan.

The event is free, but an RSVP is recommended. Danza Highbridge is presented in collaboration with the New York City Parks Department. Performance is rain or shine— in case of rain, the performance will take place inside the Highbridge Park Recreation Center. For more information and to book a reservation, please visit: www.UnitedPalaceArts.org.

Michael Mahany is a writer, host, actor, and serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.