My first two Celebrate Brooklyn! events of the season, and they could not have been more different. Thursday evening, I was exhausted from work and not up to crowds. I brought my dinner to Prospect Park and spent a peaceful evening on the grass under a tree listening first to the zany, rollicking, madcap musical romp that is Orkesta Mendoza. Lila Downs followed, and I immediately understood her renown as a master of Mexican folk music. She brought the house down with her incredibly rich vocals and song-writing in many indigenous Mexican languages. (Kudos to her excellent videographer as well. It was quite the show.)
The next evening, I was front and center for a fantastic and varied evening of dance by Garth Fagan Dance. They had been on my radar for some time, and I was delighted to finally catch a performance. I can see why the Joyce Theater refers to them as an audience favorite. Their dancers are fantastic athletes and masters of multiple dance forms. Their repertoire includes something for everyone — and if you are like me, you will love everything they present. This program was a treasure-trove of styles, from Afro-Caribbean influences, to modern dance, dance theater and ballet. A special treat was the chance to see fabulous performances by dancers well over 50: Norwood Pennewell, Steve Humphrey and Natalie Rogers made my heart full and inspired me with their real, soulful talent. It was the perfect start to a long holiday weekend.