Voices in Focus: Family Brings Flamenco to the Bronx

Happy Labor Day weekend, readers. Among today’s stories from New York City’s ethnic and community press: flamenco dancing in the Bronx; the human cost of “stop and frisk”; Jewish teens practice philanthropy; an international orchestra offers free classical music; a warning of a return to McCarthyism; and profiles of Latino characters from New York neighborhoods.

Willa Bronce, principal dancer of Romera Flamenca, a flamenco group, performs at the Opening of Tin Marin on Riverdale Avenue on April 4. (Marisol Díaz via The Riverdale Press)

* Henry Gonzalez, the manager of Tin Marin, a Spanish tapas restaurant in the Bronx, said he became intrigued when he met a guy walking down the street with a guitar slung over his back. The Riverdale Press has the story of how Tin Marin booked its Wednesday night entertainment — a family of flamenco dancers.

Mr. Gonzalez saw Romería Flamenca perform in downtown Manhattan and was left convinced that “I had to have them” at the Spanish-inspired tapas eatery he was opening on Riverdale Avenue.

Ever since, Romería Flamenca has filled the restaurant with leaping guitar chords, low lamenting Spanish lyrics and nuanced rhythms beat out through series of toe taps, claps, and slaps on an empty wooden box — or cajón — each Wednesday.

* Sixteen budding teenage philanthropists participated in Passport NYC — a stay-away, summer internship camp — and awarded Battery Urban Farm a grant of $700, Jewish Week reported.

Passport NYC was one of 20 Jewish overnight camps piloting a teen philanthropy project this summer with the Jewish Teen Funders Network. Each camp got leadership training and $1,500, to be allocated by campers to a nonprofit of their choice. (Passport NYC also awarded $50 to Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank and allocated the remaining $750 in the second session to Housing Works, a program that assists the homeless.)

“Our program intends to simulate the foundation experience for teens,” said Naomi Skop Richter, program associate at JTFN. The point of the program: “Teen empowerment.”

* New York Classical Players have been holding free classical concerts for 3 yeas. Their goal is to offer beautiful music to many people, the Korea Daily reported. This year, NYCP plans to hold 12 concerts in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island and Northern New Jersey area. A translated excerpt follows:

The director of this orchestra is Dongmin Kim, a rising star among the Korean classical musicians.

Mr.Kim graduated from Indiana State University with a major in viola and conducting, and is the music director and conductor of NYCP. The motto of NYCP is “From rich to poor, everyone has a right to hear the best music.”

Since 2010, NYCP has performed almost 20 free concerts. Many professional musicians from Korea, the U.S, China and Europe are the members of the NYCP.

When he was a student in Indiana State University, Kim dreamed up the free performing orchestra. He saw a homeless elderly man came to a public library to hear classical music for three days in a row, and Kim decided that he wanted to present music to everyone, without discrimination. That was the first step toward NYCP.

* There has been a drop in the number of people detained under the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy, but that doesn’t make racial profiling any easier to swallow for the city’s blacks and Latinos, the Riverdale Press reports.

Edward Colon, 27, said he was last stopped about five months ago, at around 8 p.m. on Albany Crescent.

“They grabbed me at my neck and slammed me on the floor, and when I asked them why they had stopped me they just said it was because I looked crazy.”

He said that over eight months, he was stopped frequently and that young men are often stopped by officers in the area.

“I didn’t believe that this was really going on and then it happened to me. And it happens to a lot of people around here,” he said.

* In the wake of a campaign by Republican members of Congress, led by Michelle Bachman, to root out alleged Islamic fundamentalist influence in the U.S. government, Achal Mehra of Little India warns that we are witnessing echoes of McCarthyism.

All minorities and religious groups should be affronted and alarmed by these reckless and unfounded accusations against decent and honorable Americans who happen to be Muslims. They could as easily have been targeted against them.

* Every neighborhood has its own colorful characters, and El Diario La Prensa profiles a few of the city’s more memorable Latino figures, such as Don Luis “the rooster,” who rides through East Harlem streets on a tricycle decorated with rooster figurines.