Music, Energy and Connection: Andy Suzuki & The Method – at Waterside

Few things invigorate than more music. And seeing the performers live brings a special kind of magic. We have three amazing summer concerts, we hope that you will love! Our events are free of charge so please attend and feel free to invite your friends.

And if you’re a Waterside Resident, the entertainment is right outside your door!

Andy Suzuki & The Method on Wednesday, August 9th (Note: This was rescheduled from July 12th.)

With soulful lyrics, lush sounds and fantastic instrumentals, Andy Suzuki and The Method often sound like more than the three-person band they are. Comprised of half-Japanese, half-Jewish American Andy Suzuki and Nigerian percussionhooist, Kozza Olatunji-Babumba, the NYC-based group often uses the personal to address the challenges “hyphenated” Americans face.

We spoke to Andy about their music – and their upcoming Waterside performance.

Andy Suzuki & The Method: At Waterside, NYC - July 12th, 2017

For people not familiar with your music, why do you think they’ll love it? What’s going to draw them in?

The energy, definitely the energy.

We’ve played so many shows all across the country for so many years and so we’re at home on stage. And I think people love to see that – see a band that is really comfortable up there and is having fun.


That’s key – that people have fun!

Yes, our live show is super exciting and fun. We call our style, “Future pop with an R&B vibe.”  And we’re going to have a full band.

What I enjoy most about a live performance is when I see artists taking risks on stage – and definitely our show is all about taking risks on stage.


Waterside has a very diverse community – and one of the focuses of your band is the cultural blend – the “hyphenated aspect” – of both your music and your band members.

Yes, my dad was born in Japan and met my mom after he went to college. So they met in New York City: They were working for the same company, at the Pan Am – now MetLife – Building, right above Grand Central Station.

My mom is from Queens, she’s a Jewish New Yorker, and they met – and here I am.

I went to Brown University, where I met my main collaborator, the other main band member, Kozza Babumba. His grandfather is a super famous Nigerian percussionist, a Grammy-winner, pretty much the first guy playing West African music in the US, Babatunde Olatunji.

Kozza was playing shows with him on West African percussion like Djembe since before Kozza could even really walk. Kozza’s father is Ugandan.

We hit it off at Brown, became friends and then started making music.

We’ve always had super eclectic music tastes and we both grew up with and still have a love for hip-hop – one of the things that brought us together. But we also love acoustic singer/songwriter stuff and indie and electronic stuff. So there’s a lot happening with our music.

Andy Suzuki & The Method: At Waterside, NYC - July 12, 2017

That diversity, all the different cultures and influences, is a huge part of New York.

That’s one of the best parts about New York.

What’s your favorite part of entertaining? What do you love?

We spend weeks, maybe months writing these songs, getting them on record and mixing in all the stuff. It’s this huge process that goes into about four minutes of music. But, live, I love how in those four minutes, there are all these nooks and crannies in the song that I didn’t even really know existed, that come from discovering and setting up how we’re playing it live. Where can we extend the song? Where can we put in a new drum breakdown? Where can we put in an audience participation part?

It’s different every night, even the same song is different every night because if you’re willing to do the exploration and take some risks there’s so much, so many things that can happen.

That’s what I love.

We’re so excited to have you play on the Plaza. Have you ever been to Waterside before?  

Yes! I used to live right near there and I would go run by the water and I’d be so curious about the buildings. I’d go on the steps, run around, it was all so cool.

Oh! That’s so great.

I actually went to a party there once. So I know exactly the spot we’ll be playing at and it’s beautiful.

What do you think like a band’s goal should be at an event?

My favorite shows are the ones where I feel like it’s a really an immersive experience and I forget that I’m a human and I forget everything that has happened that day and I’m just there.

I’m there, I’m fully present – and I’m engrossed.

That’s what a good performance is all about.

(Register here for the show)

Tango Forever Comes to Waterside!

Hana and Thomas are, respectively, the Founder and Executive Director, and the Director of Programs and Chief Instructor at Tango Forever. They both have a strong background in dance and an equally strong desire to bring the beauty and benefits of Argentine Tango to others.

Hana has organized and hosted Argentine tango events across Manhattan on a weekly and monthly basis with the mission of raising awareness of this art form and reaching a wide range of ages and ethnic groups. She’s also been a design professional for over 20 years. Thomas Reale has been a professional tango dancer and teacher since 1997. He is known for making Tango accessible to his students and has taught at the well-respected Sandra Cameron dance school and performed and given workshops at Carnegie Hall, Essex House, Four Seasons Hotel, and The Palace Hotel.

We interviewed them about the 5-week class they’ll be offering at Waterside, for the next 5 Saturdays, April 29th – May 27th (6pm-7pm), which is open to both Health Club members and non-members.

Hana - of Tango Forever Thomas - of Tango Forever

You had your first class, an introductory class, at Waterside in February – tell me about it.

Hana:                        As it was a first class, most didn’t know what to expect and some were maybe a little bit intimidated by the whole thing. But everybody walked out with a smile. And that says it all. People who have never taken a dance class before walked out hand-in-hand, very happy.

Dancing can be really intimidating. People who don’t know how to can feel that it’s a huge barrier.

So it’s a real endorsement that they left so enthusiastic.

Hana:                        It really was.

When does your class begin?

Hana:                           Saturday, April 29th at 6PM.

How would you describe what they’ll learn?

Thomas:                         People come into Tango with various ideas – that can be wrong. Some people have seen a Broadway show and others have ideas about Tango based on what they’ve been exposed to.

There are different types: One is ballroom tango and another is Argentine tango. And so the first thing we do is explain the difference.

I didn’t realize that there was a difference between Argentine Tango and Ballroom Dancing.

Thomas:                        Many people don’t. If you grew up in America, you usually are exposed to Ballroom Tango, which is completely, completely different: That Valentino idea – and the rose in the mouth.

Whereas Argentine Tango is an over 150-year-old tradition, which came to be through immigrants coming into Argentina, many from Italy. They just started dancing in the streets, and the music and the dance came together interestingly with this instrument called a Bandoneón.

(Photo of Bandoneón – Photo credit: Nico Kaiser via VisualHunt / CC BY)

Hana:                          Also one is developed in the studios and under the spotlights, and the other one is in the streets and much more organically developed.

So they are very distinct.

Yes, and in ballroom tango they use what they call the frame, which is the way that the couple dances, and it’s much more stiff. And, generally speaking, the heads are turned away from each other. Whereas in Argentine tango, it’s not called a frame, it’s called an embrace.

And that tells you everything. It’s a much softer, very active way of relating between two people.

Waterside has residents from all over the world so we are happy to be offering something with an international flavor at the Club.

Hana:                          Yes. And not only Argentine people can dance Argentine Tango.

If you have a heart, you can dance it.

You see in the tango community in New York that there are people from everywhere.  It’s very eclectic. And not only from different ethnic backgrounds – but different age groups. It’s very inclusive of all age groups. Which is rare.

That is rare – very rare.

Is the class for beginners?

Thomas:                      Well, since most of the people will be beginners, it will probably briefly start that way and then develop through intermediate – which is where most people are even when they’re dancing for years.

We start every class with the basics. The basics are the essence of the whole dance. So you always start with the same exercises and move up from there.

Even when you master this dance, you learn the secret was always in the basics. Even the masters come back to the basics.

That makes sense: If you have a really solid base then you can expand upon the dance.

Hana:                          Exactly.  Because it then becomes your own. Rather than teaching people pre-made steps, you teach them the basics and then it becomes their own vocabulary that they can develop and use to express themselves. So that’s our philosophy.

It sounds like an actor learning their lines. Once they learn them, they can speak through them. It gives them a structure that allows them to provide an interpretation.

Hana:                          Right.

I am impressed that this dance is accessible to people of all ages.

It’s dance that you can dance as a young person, sure, but you can really continue dancing well into your eighties and even nineties.

We have somebody who is 98 years old that still goes out at least once a week, dresses up and goes to a social tango. And that keeps him going. And it’s amazing.

And it’s a form of staying in shape that’s gentle enough and you can take it to any level that you are comfortable with. And it actually improves with age. As opposed to say ballet after a certain age you kind of retire from it or other forms of dance, perhaps like salsa, that can be more strenuous. This, you can just keep doing.

Tango classes - Waterside Plaza

Part of your mission with Tango Forever is to improve aging peoples’ health and well-being through the dance of Argentine tango. Why is that important to you?

Hana:                          Yes, this is our organization where we go to senior centers in the various boroughs of the city and we teach them classes at no cost to them.

When I started in Tango, I just started noticing around me that there were so many people well into their eighties that were in such great shape and in good spirits. And I always compare it to people who I know in my own family of that age who were not doing as well.

There is a lot of research –  that correlate this form of movement to health and well-being because it is improv and you’re always in the moment. So this mind-body connection is always cemented and refreshed and it keeps all the nerves and the connections to the brain aligned as opposed to slow degeneration

Also with this dance you are in close contact with others, you feel good – and you are moving.

And so it’s no wonder people keep coming back to it and keep doing it. As opposed to going to the gym, sometimes you have to force yourself to do that.

Here, there is a social connection, there’s a bond, there’s an emotional connection.

You don’t often find all those components in an exercise class: Keep in shape –and have social connections.

Hana:                          Yes. And the music takes you on an incredible journey. The music alone is fantastic.

You mentioned it was like improv, that you have to be in the moment. Why is that essential?

Hana:                          The pace of our lives, especially in New York City, we’re on our phones or on the computer. When you go to Tango, no one is on their phone. It’s a phone-free, unplugged zone. And that is incredibly rare.

Now, you’re in the moment. You’re in the middle of a dance. You’re with somebody. And you change partners all the time, so each time you have to re-calibrate what the lead is asking for, how to follow it, how to respond to this.

It’s a back-and-forth: So you have to present. It’s like a game of chess that’s happening on the spot. You can’t be on the phone.

Is this class offered as a drop in class?

Hana:                          Yes – but we do suggest people come for at least an entire month so you can see a full session of 4 weeks and evaluate. Most people want to continue.

Do they need to wear anything specific?

Hana:                          We ask that women wear leather soled-shoes – doesn’t have to be heels – and men wear leather-soled shoes as well.

What would you say to people who feel trepidation about taking the case because they feel uncoordinated?

Thomas:                      I think when you feel uncoordinated, that feeling may be based on certain experiences you’ve have had.

But it doesn’t apply to everything. And it depends how you learn a thing. We can teach you how to coordinate – that’s what the whole dance is about; it’s about learning to coordinate. My whole philosophy has to do with taking the complex and making it simple.

So it’s not the end of the road if you feel that way. This dance is based on very simple ideas  – like walking. It’s an attitude, it’s an embrace. And it has a very simple base. So everybody can learn.

Tango classes - Tango Forever

Interview with Estelle at Bellevue South Nursery School: Part 1 – Creativity and Connection – at Waterside Plaza

Bellevue South Nursery School is located at 10 Waterside Plaza. It serves children ages 3-5.

The school year runs from Sept – June and they presently have a few openings available.

We spoke to Estelle Hofstetter, the school’s Co-Director (along with Caroline Mechanick) and Music Specialist.

Estelle has been at the school for 31 Years. She has an MS from Bank Street in Infant/Child Development and a BA from Queens College, Early Childhood Education

Can you tell us about your programs?

Right now we have two classes. We have the morning one, for 3-year-olds, from 8:45am to 11:45pm. And in the afternoon we have a Pre-K program from 12:45pm to 3:45pm.

Next year, we’ll offer the parents full days – it’s what a lot of people want. We’ll have mixed ages, three and fours, for the full day, next year.

That’s really helpful for a lot of parents, given their work schedules.

I hear you were just teaching music – can you tell me more about your music programs?

Our curriculum is very, very rich. And what makes it so special at Bellevue South is that we don’t have to import special teachers. My forte is music and I love playing the piano and singing with the children using instruments and movement. And the days I’m not here, another teacher also plays the piano and takes my lead on what things we’ve taught the children.

Singing with their spider hats on! - At Bellevue South Nursery School
Singing with their spider hats on! – At Bellevue South Nursery School

What kind of music do you play and sing with them?

There are hundreds. “If You’re Happy and You Know It” – that’s using motions and singing. We do a lot of Halloween songs, getting ready for the holiday, so we can perform for the parents. We do a lot of songs that have their names in it, so the three-year-olds can  get to know each other. You know, “Here We Are Together”, and they say their name. We do a lot of songs about animals, “Kookaburra”, “Joshie Otter”. We do songs relating to the time/season, like this month we have spider songs and pumpkin songs.

Most of the songs have motions, and that’s what keeps children interested, is when songs have motions, as well as words and melody.

Do you have mostly Waterside Plaza children?

Actually, we have the whole gambit. We go from 14th Street up to 40th Street. From 1st Avenue to Park Avenue. Of course we love our Waterside community. And we do prioritize them. It’s wonderful for the Waterside community to have a nursery school right here. The children feel so connected, especially since one of my teachers also lives at Waterside. So the kids get real a kick out of that. They think she sleeps in school.

That’s hilarious. She seems even more devoted that way.

Tell me more about your staff. From reading about them on the website, I get the impression that they’re an exceptional group.

All my staff is very local, which is very nice. And it is a very unique staff. They’ve been with me for many, many years.

It also sounds like they are all highly creative.

One of my staff, and not only is she trained in early childhood education, but she’s also an artist, so she brings that to the table. She’s incredible at getting the children engaged. We do a lot of author studies in the Pre-K, and artist studies, so she has them doing, for example, Leo Lionni or Eric Carle. So they do projects, a la Eric Carle or Leo Lionni! And we’ve done wonderful artist studies, so you’ll see something that looks like a Calder mobile. The kids really enjoy learning about the artist and then doing something very similar.

You must have a bunch of budding artists

We are a process-orientated school, meaning that we believe in the creativity and the process of a project, not so much the end result.

Apple Printing - at Bellevue South Nursery School
Apple Printing – at Bellevue South Nursery School

And so they look at the child as a whole and what they’re accomplishing when they are doing a project. Not so much if it came out exactly the way they wanted it. We do a lot of open-ended – finger painting, clay, printing – anything to do with paints. And nice messy stuff. And we tell the parents: “Let them do the messy stuff here. You don’t have to do it at home.”

String Painting - at Bellevue South Nursery School
String Painting – at Bellevue South Nursery School

That’s the way to do it!

Art is very important here. Our students get music, every day, as we discussed. And also movement – every single day.

Sounds ideal.

Physical exercise is one of our priorities. And one of my teachers, she has her Master’s in library science and early childhood, and she’s also a certified yoga instructor, so we have yoga twice a week for the three-year-olds and for the four-year-olds.

We have yoga mats here, so parents don’t have to worry about bringing that. Yoga is really wonderful for mindfulness and for flexibility. And especially when it’s really cold out, it’s really useful. They have their movement, they have their yoga, every single day.

This is unique.

There are a number of  things that make our school so unique – another one is that we have cooking every single week. We cook with the children. We make sure that kids really get involved, because it’s been studied that children who participate in the making of the food and the cooking will try more things.

And of course what we cook is always nutritious, we don’t have any sugary stuff. So everything is fun, delicious – and nutritious.

Can you give me any examples of dishes you cook?

Let’s see, this week they’re making hummus. They made applesauce last week. They read “The Three Bears” and so they made their own porridge. We have a juicer in school, so they tasted real apple juice. We’re going to be having at least one juice every month, a different juice, they’ll see how it’s made.

I didn’t know kids that young could do that! So, you’re talking about three to five year olds, that they’re able to cook?

Oh, absolutely. They love to mix, adding the flour They’ve made spaghetti with tomato sauce, they’ve cut the tomatoes. They’ve made quiche. Very healthy muffins, like carrot ones. They’ve done pita chips, where they cut the pita. They’ve made dips. It’s cooking every week, fun stuff.

Slicing Apples - at Bellevue South Nursery School
Slicing Apples – at Bellevue South Nursery School

Wow!

For Halloween, they do something really interesting! We use white bread and food coloring with milk. And they paint a face on the piece of bread. And when it’s toasted, the color comes out and it looks like a monster face.

Oh!

We call it “Monster Toast.” When you toast it, the Monster toast the colors come out, and then they eat it with a little butter on top, and they love it.

I love this.

It’s really fun, they love it too!

Can you send us a Monster Toast picture?

Sure.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview – where we learn more about the special attention Bellevue South gives to its students, its focus on environmental studies, and what happens at the Open House (November 8th, 4pm – 6pm)

To contact Bellevue South Nursery school email: bsns10@aol.com.

The kids with their spider hats on! - At Bellevue South Nursery School
The kids with their spider hats on! – At Bellevue South Nursery School

Summer Concert / Afro-Brazilian Party with Dendê & Band – July 27th – at Waterside Plaza

Part of Waterside Plaza‘s Summer Fun on the Plaza series!

Summer Concert and Afro-Brazilian Party
with
Dendê & Band

Date: Wednesday, July 27

(Rain Date: August 3th)

Time: 7PM to 9PM (With a Samba Dance Lesson at 7:45pm)

Admission: Free (No tickets needed – just show up 🙂 )

Location: Outside on the Plaza (Waterside Plaza. At 25 Waterside Plaza, NY, NY 10010.)
Need directions? Here you go: https://gowaterside.com/visit/ )

Dendê & Band seamlessly meld Afro-Brazilian traditions like samba de roda and candombe with world rhythms like rumba, afrobeat and mbalax. Their delicious mix of poly-rhythmic power and joyous melodies is an irresistible call to the dance floor.

Listen to this track! And just try not to start dancing!

 

 

 Dendê & Band
Dendê & Band – Photo by Grace G. Zinnel
 Dendê & Band
Dendê & Band – Photo by Grace G. Zinnel  Dendê & Band
 Dendê & Band
Dendê & Band – Photo by Grace G. Zinnel

We look forward to seeing you!

 

Summer Concert / Cuban Salsa Party – on July 13th – at Waterside Plaza

Part of Waterside Plaza‘s Summer Fun on the Plaza series!

Summer Concert / Cuban Salsa Party
with the Funky Guajiro

Date: Wednesday, July 13

(Rain Date: Cancelled if it rains)

Time: 7PM to 9PM

Salsa Dance Lesson: 6:30PM – 7PM

Admission: Free

Location: Outside on the Plaza (Waterside Plaza. At 25 Waterside Plaza, NY, NY 10010.)
Need directions? Here you go: https://gowaterside.com/visit/ )

Join the Funky Guajiro, New York’s most original Cuban style dance band, for the funkiest Salsa on the Planet! Their music is sweet and fierce and definitely not for sitting!

These musicians have shared the international stage with renowned bands such as Los Van Van, Buena Vista Social Club, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. They incorporate Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican vocal stylings, the Cuban Tres Guitar, Trombone, Trumpet and a modern-groove Latin rhythm section of New York’s finest to create an unmistakable and unique sound.

The band plays from 7-9PM, and there is a mini salsa dance lesson from 6:30-7pm.

We look forward to seeing you!

Funky Guajiro - Waterside Plaza - Salsa Party - July 13, 2016