At the 17th Annual Red Hook Fest (June 4-5, 2010) we looked at "Red Hook: Front to Back." In a diverse neighborhood that is sometimes divided by its geography, we took the opportunity to celebrate the Festival as an annual coming-together of our community and a celebration of the culture that is created in it.
Before the official Festival weekend, our professional artist lineup made their presence felt in the neighborhood: members of La Excelencia held an assembly with students at South Brooklyn Community High School, while Decadancetheatre's Jenn Weber offered a master class to Red Hook's own Solomon Goodwin and his youth dance group, Grand X-Plosion.
Starting the Fest with a Friday Night Kick-Off in Coffey Park (where local student Lamesha Mosley hosted a youth open-mic), we saw record audience figures and some of the most inspiring performers in Festival history: Joseph Webb, in a return to the Fest; local modern dance company, Cora Dance; Decadancetheatre and their unique hip hop dance-theater; La Excelencia, the face of modern salsa music; and M.U.G.A.B.E.E., the soulful creation of brothers/activists Maurice & Carlton Turner.
2009's 16th Annual Red Hook Watertfront Arts Festival, "Destination Red Hook: We Got What You Need," said "no way" to those who were forever calling Red Hook "the next" destination neighborhood. Instead, we said, we know that Red Hook is a destination neighborhood right now. Not just for New Yorkers who flock to the 'hood for delicious food at the ballfields or a one-of-a-kind gallery space at BWAC- Red Hook is a destination every day for the thousands of people who live in, work in, or in some way call the neighborhood home.
Dance Theatre Etcetera packed Valentino Park full of the best that Red Hook has to offer. Special highlights included delicious boxed lunches cooked by the students of South Brooklyn Community High School's LearningToCater program, with local ingredients from Red Hook farm Added Value and partner farms in upstate New York. SBCHS students also took the stage to read their powerful spoken word poetry as they opened for their proud teacher, Joseph Webb.
And Joseph? His tapping, rapping, funk-infused performance was part of an awesome Mainstage lineup that also featured salsa all-star band Willie Alvarez y Trombori, PurElements: An Evolution in Dance, JoiLynn Productions, and the dynamic DJ Chela of "the new girl order." The Red Hook Ramblers opened the festival with a classic-jazz parade to the stage.
In 2008 we were "Growing Arts, Going Green", bringing a series of enviornmentally conscious partners and activities to the park and a lineup featuring Amayo's Fu-Arkist Ra, Akil Dasan & The Crowd, Jollyship the Whizbang's nautical rock, Capulli Danza Mexicana, Paradizo Dance, and an evening-ending dance party spun by DJ Oja.