NEW YORK – Dozens of foreigners came together to celebrate Ukrainian culture in a free continuous dance series titled “Barefoot in Downtown Brooklyn.”
The events were organized by Mickela Mallozzi, host of Bare Feet, a dance travel series, in conjunction with Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
“People may not understand what’s going on, but at least we want to show the beauty and the culture and the real people, and tangible things about Ukraine,” she says.
For two hours every Thursday in July, the square at 300 Ashland Place transforms into a cradle of culture. The last 3 weeks have seen dance from India, the Middle East and now Ukraine. This week will feature Afro-Cuban rhythms.
“It shows how music and art unite us and if we listen carefully, we’ll hear more similarities than differences,” says Julissa Vale, director of programming at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Those who came to the event, and even those who passed by, were invited onto the dance floor to learn some moves.
Linh Nguyễn, an immigrant from Vietnam who lives across the street, says, “It’s always nice to learn about new cultures, especially…this time Ukrainian culture, it means so much more.
On stage, performers dressed in elaborate costumes sang Ukrainian national songs and performed energetic dances. Ludmila Fesenko is a Honored Artist of Ukraine, trained opera singer and performer at the event.
“People here are very open, open with big, warm hearts,” she said of those who got up to dance with the performers.
Many attendees said enjoying Ukrainian culture was even more meaningful because of what the nation is going through right now.
“We prayed for Ukraine in our church,” said Judy Dye, who came from Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“I see them making new friends and feeling a little more connected to a culture that they might not have understood before,” Mallozzi said of the audience.
There’s one last dance left in the series on July 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at 300 Ashland Place.
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