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(Bronx, NY, March 22, 2012) Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education and Dancing in the Streets will launch The South Bronx Culture Trail (TRAIL) with There is No Place Like Casita: Alumni & Community Celebration on April 26th at 7:00 pm at Casita Maria, located at 928 Simpson Street in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. The South Bronx Culture Trail is a two-year initiative that engages artists, scholars, and community members in developing a physical and virtual trail connecting known and lesser-known sites that played a significant role in spawning the rich cultural history of the South Bronx.
There is No Place Like Casita: Alumni and Community Celebration is the event that officially launches The South Bronx Culture Trail. It will bring together community members, Casita alumni, or “Casita Kids,” and friends of Casita Maria, Dancing in the Streets, and members of the New York community for a dance party with great music from The South Bronx Culture Trail All Stars: Dave Valentin, Orlando Marin, Angel Rodriguez, Bobby Sanabria and Dr. Willie Rodriguez, and DJ GrandWizzard Theodore. The public will be invited to share their South Bronx story at the TRAIL’s interactive maps. This event is free for everyone and it is made possible thanks to the support of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Cultural Innovation Fund - which is the major supporter of the Trail - with additional support from Con Edison.
The Honorary Chairman of There is No Place Like Casita: Alumni and Community Celebration
is Marta Rivera, a former Casita Kid who was awarded a 2011 PASEsetter Award for her efforts as Program Director at Casita Maria for over 20 years. Through her work at Casita Maria and as a community leader, Marta Rivera has made a difference in the lives of thousands of children and youth in the South Bronx. “It is an honor to be the Chairman of There is No Place Like Casita, an event that will bring together the community through the arts and engage community members in developing The South Bronx Culture Trail”, explained Rivera.
Between April 26th and October 2013, Casita Maria and Dancing in the Streets will gather recommendations for culturally significant sites for the Culture Trail. In 2012 the first leg of the Culture Trail will concentrate on Hunts Point and Longwood between E. 152nd St. to the south, Southern Boulevard to the east, E. 167th St. to the north, and Prospect Avenue to the west. There will be a significant focus on Casita Maria’s legacy in the neighborhood, and specifically on Casita Kids’contributions to the cultural legacy of the South Bronx. The TRAIL includes the gathering, documentation, and dissemination of historical research and the oral histories of the South Bronx residents. Upon TRAIL’s completion in 2013, all video, audio, photographic, and written documentation of The South Bronx Culture Trail project will be donated to public institutions, such as City Lore, The Bronx Music Heritage Center, the Bronx Historical Society, and others.
In addition to There is No Place Like Casita: Alumni and Community Celebration, the TRAIL 2012 program will be comprised of the following free public events:
May 17 / MothSHOP Community Storytelling Workshop Event: Presentation of stories from an 8-week long workshop, starting March 22, 2012. The stories will highlight community members’ experiences and how growing up in Hunts Point helped shape their lives.
June 23 / Walking the Trail & Unveiling of Tats Cru Culture Trail Mural: On this day, community members can “walk the trail” that will be built from the stories and cultural history accumulated over the span of several months of research and interviews with community members. There will be guided tours led by members of the South Bronx Culture Trail’s Advisory Committee, and the day will start with the unveiling of a new mural celebrating the Culture Trail by the legendary Tats Cru – some members are counted as “Casita Kids” – on the front of The Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education.
October 6 / Unveiling of the First Leg of the Culture Trail: Community members and audiences from near and far will experience—and contribute to—the cultural richness and vitality of Hunts Point and Longwood through the following:
o Casita/HOME Photo Exhibit: The opening of a months-long initiative to gather photos from South Bronx community members, Casita alumni, and friends who attempt to answer the question “What does ‘home’ mean to you?”
o Walking Tours of the Culture Trail
o Site-Specific Music and Dance Performances: The vibrant street life of the South Bronx during the 1940s-1970s will come alive in a traveling site-specific work by choreographer Joanna Haigood and composer Bobby Sanabria that will turn Hunts Point’s and Longwood’s sidewalks, plazas, and empty lots into musical instruments “played” by prominent musicians and dancers who grew up in the neighborhood.
CASITA MARIA: Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education continues its 78-year legacy of serving youth of the South Bronx community and other New Yorkers at its new, state of the art facility with comprehensive kindergarten through college arts and education programs supported by a family center, a gallery and a theater to bolster learning. Casita offers safe, rigorous and creative programs both during the school day and during out-of-school time that help transform the lives of the youth we serve. Over the past three years we have seen the number of students we serve increase from 300 to almost 1,000. Our goal is to create programs that provide knowledge and resources to change how underserved youth see their potential and approach their future. In May 2011, Casita received The Norman Buchbinder Placemaking Award from Mayor Michael Bloomberg for its contribution to increasing the stature, identity and economic activity of the South Bronx. For more information, please visit www.casitamaria.org.