Beach Sessions Dance Series Returns to Rockaway Beach with AUNTS
There’s more to Rockaway this August than sand and sun!
On August 25 and 26, Beach Sessions returns to Rockaway beach, NY, for a fourth free and open-to-everyone season. The series, curated by producer and former Rockaway resident Sasha Okshteyn, aims to engage the Rockaway community as well as draw outsiders to the peninsula. Okshteyn, a New York City native, accustomed to the abundance of accessible cultural offerings in public spaces, asked, “Why shouldn’t free public art be available in Rockaway as well?” Over the years her Beach Sessions have showcased exquisite dance by the likes of Netta Yerushalmy, Loni Landon, Shannon Gillen and renowned street dance artist Reggie Gray, among others.
Initially, Beach Sessions was presented traditionally, atop of stage erected on the sand. In 2017, choreographer and artist Madeline Hollander challenged this format, having her dancers actively engage with their natural environment, by raking and carving intricate patterns in the sand. “Hollander’s piece changed everything,” says Okshteyn.
Beach Sessions 2018 is partnering with Laurie Berg and Lili Dirks-Goodman who head up AUNTS, the defiantly fun, refreshing pro-abundance in art, anti-consumerist dance group. Their mission and indeed the mission of this years’ series is, “to explore the full capabilities of the Rockaway peninsula, through art.” AUNTS and Okshteyn have created a performance that moves audience members across the peninsula, transforming three diverse locations: the beach, the boardwalk, and The Castle Rockaway, a magical 3-floor Tuscan Villa with an ornate interior embellished by stained glass and chandeliers.
The Series’ first evening on August 25th begins at the beach with Biba Bell’s Hustle on the sand, a dance featuring Detroit social dances that encourages audiences to shimmy and jitterbug along with the performers. Later, the AUNTS-led procession down the boardwalk directs audience members to The Castle by way of Beach 117th, where performances from 14 different artists offer audiences the opportunity to mold their own experience.
With more variety and audience engagement than ever to choose from, the two-day series promises a rewarding, fun, unexpected and thought-provoking weekend at the beach.