The LES Citizens Parade is a celebration of the migration and settlement experiences of longtime residents of New York’s multilingual Lower East Side neighborhood. What’s unique about the hybrid piece, billed as both a procession and a dance party, is that the performers are all seniors — of Chinese, Hispanic, and Jewish descent — who frequent four senior centers in lower Manhattan (Henry Street Settlement’s Senior Center, LaGuardia Neighborhood Senior Center, Two Bridges Senior Housing, and the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living at the Manny Cantor Center). Nearly 50 participants in all, they range in age from 60 to 95 and all took part in movement workshops from January through May. The LES Citizens Parade, part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival program, is literally described as a “moving company” of older adults and guest artists.
The performance, taking place Thursday, June 22 and Sunday, June 24, will kick off with a procession as each participant/performer carries a box that symbolizes something special from their personal lives — the one thing they’d choose to take with them if they had to move. Cardboard moving boxes are emblazoned with labels such as “Shoes,” “Fruit,” and “Spices,” the latter representing the joy of making Chinese curried chicken, for instance. A box labeled “Clothes” points to the items of clothing that are important to hold onto.
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